Abbildungen der Seite


over his slab, we would not have thought that “Mad Bell” was far wrong. His reading was varied as his researches, but all bore on two main points, literature and geology. He soon verified the saying of the quick-sighted sybil, and came out in the new character of author. His first production was a volume of poems, which did not extend his reputation far beyond his native town, Nor perhaps could he complain of the world's injustice. Though fond in early life of expressing, and in later life of repeating his thoughts in verse, he seems to have lacked, under the trammels of rhyme and line measurement, the inspiration of the true poetry that breathed throughout his prose. Well do we remember our first impressions on reading “Scenes and Legends in the North of Scotland, by Hugh Miller." The modest volume teemed with forms of life and beauty ; every leaflet glistened with the dew drops of fancy; the sentences fell on the ear like music, or gracefully tripped along to the tune of some ancient master in composition. There was a richness in the humour that reminded one of the best efforts of Goldsmith, and outshone the imitative graces of Geoffry Crayon. The myths of the semi-barbarous tribes that border on the Highlands, the wild stories of the sea-robber and his caves, or the comic distresses of the Cromarty weaver, who awoke to find his pawky neighbour encroaching on his kail-yard, were given in such graphic style, and accompanied by such potent writing, that involuntarily the question rose, Who can this Hugh Miller be? The question was never answered till, in the house of a well-known lay champion of the Free Church, we were introduced, in the person of the ci-devant stonemason, to the author of the Legends, the writer of the Letter to the Lord Chancellor, and the proposed Editor of the “ Witness.” His exterior was strikingly in accordance with his original calling; and having, as he says himself, “no great powers of face," he may have appeared somewhat “put out” before a company called for the special purpose of meeting the “ coming man.” But then as ever he maintained the native dignity of independence; and indeed, as we learn from one who was familiar with him before this time, in his native town, where he was regarded with pride and admiration for his genius, it was nothing uncommon for the “ungainly, dust-besprinkled mechanic" to strip himself of his working nabiliments, and, donning the attire of the gentleman, to sit down at the hospitable board with the most respectable natives of the place.

On his brilliant career as the Editor of the “ Witness," we need not enter; and his triumphs in the field of geology will form, of themselves, & chapter in the history of science. On the important services which, in the first department, he rendered to the cause of truth as upheld by the Free Church of Scotland, and in the other field, to the same cause in discovering the harmonies between science and revelation, we leave it to others to speak. And we hasten to conclude our hasty retrospect. Neither our space nor our time will admit of any elaborate estimate of the character of the departed. There are some points that stood out prominently enough. Among these few could avoid marking his profound reference for genius, and, above all, for genius sanctified by religion. A companion of his earlier days has informed us that on twitting him with being a hero-worshipper, Miller replied, “No man can be great who is not an admirer of greatness.” This admiration, generally, indeed, fixed itself on departed greatness. Not that he was insensible to contemporary worth; but having formed his ideas more on the models of the past than

by intercourse with the living, he revelled in the reproduction of their ... and with him the thoughts of the men were inseparably linked with the men themselves, who lived over again and walked as in life over the brilliantly lighted stage of his imagination, Truth demands the admission, that whatever was mean and unworthy, or bore in his eyes the aspect of meanness and unworthiness, came in for a proportionate share in his antipathies; and that these were sometimes cherished with a persistency, and betrayed with a severity, for which we can only find an excuse in the peculiar hardness of his mental fibre, which, though not soon yielding to provocation, when once penetrated, could not be easily “bound up nor mollified with ointment.” In his moral temperament, there was a tenderness and delicacy which, clinging to the objects of his affection with singular tenacity, could not easily recover itself when crushed by the hasty foot of unkindness or even inadvertence. None could be more friendly, nor more grateful for friendship. And the best testimony that can be borne him is, that those who knew him most intimately loved him most cordially, and now most deeply deplore him.


A LABoup of love is easily known. A man full of scholarship and professional enthusiasm is following up his favourite researches, when he stumbles on a quotation or reference which to ordinary readers would have no significance, but which to his alert and practised mind suggests a whole world of inquiry. It is a grain of gold dust in the stream, which at once sends the knowing digger up the ravine and far into the roots of the mountain; or rather, it is the torn letter or the empty carpet-bag, furnished with which, as with a divining-rod, the experienced detective hies from Euston Square to Liverpool, and thence by the first liner to New York, till in some log-hut of Alabama, or on a rolling prairie near Chicago, he earths his unfortunate victim.

Like such gift. or detective, a church historian is pursuing some path of inquiry, when he finds that his author was acquainted with a reformer or martyr, regarding whom our information has been hitherto scanty. But even his author is himself a great rarity. It is a question if some of his publications have not utterly perished from the earth, and in order to find his epistles or manuscript remains, it is needful to ascertain his haunts and habits whilst yet in the body. But where there is the true instinct of investigation, all this will gradually clear up to the persevering antiquary; and, if you can only give him time, betwixt the musty archives in the State Paper Office, and the contents of oaken cupboards in old German libraries; betwixt the matriculation rolls of the Sorbonne, and records of decayed Scotch burghs, nibbled by the mice of Queen Mary, and blurred with the beer and buttermilk of her sapient son; he will collect the materials of a most original and interesting monograph.

The result of Professor Lorimer's researches pursued from Oxford to Wolfenbüttel, from Wolfenbüttel to Paris, from Paris to Wittemberg, and from Wittemberg to Linlithgow, is, that the history of the Scottish protomartyr

[merged small][ocr errors]

is better known to ourselves than it probably was even to his affectionate disciple, Alexander Alesius himself. His probable birth-place, the colleges where he studied, the progress of his opinions, his marriage, many particulars of his closing days, and the influence which he exerted on his contemporaries, have been rescued from obscurity or oblivion. Nor is the work before us a mere monument of the author's industry and acuteness. By the judicious use of his materials,-throwing into notes and the appendix the heavier documents ;- by the skilful introduction of subsidiary incidents and personages, and by the affectionate sympathy and ardour with which the progress of events is developed, the biographer has produced a remarkably interesting memoir, as well as an invaluable addition to the history of the Church of Scotland. The entire book is an eminently successful achievement, reflecting honour not only on the accomplished author, but on the church and college which claim him for their own.

Having given our readers a prelibation of the book in our former number, we must now restrict ourselves to one or two extracts.

The following passage brings Hamilton from Wittemberg home to Scotland :

"On his arrival from Germany, Patrick Hamilton repaired to the family mansion at Kincarel, and it was there that he found his first congregation. His elder brother, Sir James, was now in possession of the family estates and honours ; he was married to Isobel Senpill, a daughter no doubt of the noble house of that ancient name, and had a young family rising around him. His mother still survived, as we learn from an affectionate allusion which he made to her a few months later; and he had a sister named Katherine, a lady of spirit and talent. These near relatives and the servants of the family made up the preacher's first audience; and he did not expound to them in vain the Gospel which he loved, His labours among his relations were blessed with signal success. Both his brother and sister welcomed the truth, and were honoured several years later to suffer much for its sake.

" But he did not confine himself to the circle at Kincavel. He began to preach the long-lost Gospel in all the country round. The bright beams of the true light,' says Knox, 'which, by God's grace, was planted in his heart, began most abundantly to burst forth as well in public as in secret. "Wheresoever he came,' says Spottiswood," he spared not to lay open the corruptions of the Roman Church, and to show the errors crept into the Christian religion; whereunto many gave ear, and a great following he had both for his learning and courteous behaviour to all sorts of people.'

"It is exceedingly probable that the ancient parish church of Binny was the first church in Scotland in which the Reformer lifted up his voice. The parish of Binny was not then united as now to the adjoining parish of Linlithgow; and the Baron of Kincavel was one of its principal proprietors. The beautiful • Craig,' which so finely diversifies the surface of the parish, would seem to have been a part of the Kincavel estate ; and its lofty cliff and bosky slopes-a monument of nature's own rearing-probably mark the spot where Patrick Hamilton commenced his evangelic mission.

“Among other places in the neighbourhood of Kincavel, it may be very safely inferred from the statements of Knox and Spottiswood, that Hamilton preached in the adjoining burgh of Linlithgow. The town was less than two miles from his home, and it had claims upon him of peculiar interest. It had possibly been the place of his own early education, it was the seat of the hereditary jurisdiction of his fainily, and its burghers were kindly affectioned to his house. Its population was the largest and most influential to which he could have access, as a preacher, in that part of the kingdom ; it numbered among its occasional residents the members of the royal family, and many of the highest nobility of the realm ; the inmates of the palace were worshippers in the parish church of St. Michael; and all ranks of the community, from the highest to the lowest, stood urgently in need of a purer dispensation of religious truth. Indeed, Linlithgow would appear to have been addicted with a more than ordinary degree of zeal to the superstitious worship of the Church of Rome. The beautiful church of St. Michael, though of no great gize, had as many as sixteen altars erected in its aisles and side chapels ; and to these the burghers came, not only with their rosaries and prayers, but with the subsantial oblations of numerous annual rents. These altars were endowed with no fewer than 228 such rents, all chargeable upon tenements of the town, except a few which were derived from houses in Edinburgh. All the houses of the burgh could not have much, if at all, exceeded that number of rent-charges. Two of the altars were dedicated to the Virgin, and received between them as many as fifty-nine of these endowments. The altars of St. John the Baptist and St. Ninian had each twenty. St. Andrew, St. Katherine, the Virgin, St. Bridget, and St. Anne, were also regarded with considerable favour ; and St. Peter, St. Elisius, and St. Michael were not forgotten. One altar was styled the altar of Corpus Christi-another was the altar of the Lamp and Light of the Sacrament-another was styled of the Holy Cross—and a fourth was the altar of All Saints. This large number of foundations was no doubt owing to two causes. Linlithgow was a favourite royal residence, and as such was the frequent resort of the nobility and prelates ; and a large portion of the property of the burgh and county was in the hands of churchmen.

" It appears from authentic records still extant that the burghers of Linlithgow had not only to sustain the numerous priests who ministered at these superstitious altars, but were obliged also to bind them down, by solemn instruments and by many sureties, to observe the plainest rules of honesty and decorum. A curious document of this kind has been preserved in the charter chest of Linlithgow, and is now for the first time brought forward as a witness to the melancholy corruption of the Scottish Church. It is a deed of obligation of the year 1455, on the part of Patrick Brone, or Brown, chaplain of the altar of Corpus Christi in the cliurch of St. Michael, and bears the seals of six

borrowis' or sureties, his relatives and friends. In this deed Brown binds and obliges himself to the bailies and community of Linlithgow, not merely to do divine service at the altar of Corpus Christi, and in the choir of the church, and to learn diligently to read and sing in augmentation of God's service, and for pleasance of the said bailies and community ;' but also not to sell, wadset (pledge), nor analie (alienate) any part of the graith' (furniture) of the said altar, such as books, chalice, chasuble, albs, towels, &c., 'for no pinch or necessity that may happen at any time to arise ;' and also 'to govern his person in honesty, and to be of honest conversation in meat and drink, lying and rising, and to use no unreasonable excess,' and to have no continual concubine.' And 'gif he should happen to do the contrair he shall, at the ordinance of the said bailies and community, desist and amend under pain of deprivation.'

"Such was the very moderate amount of virtue expected or required from the altarchaplains of Linlithgow; and such was the singular method adopted by its honest burgesses to enforce it. In the absence of all efficient ecclesiastical discipline, the only way they could think of to secure the decency of their priests was to take half a dozen sureties for the good behaviour of each of them, and to bind them by a legal instrument to submit, in case of transgression, to the deprivation of their offerings and rents.”

The following account of Hamilton's martyrdom contains a considerable number of affecting particulars which are new to this Martyrology, and which the author has derived from the long-neglected writings of Alexander Alane, or Alesius.

“It was appointed that the execution of the sentence should take place that very day. The archbishop had made sure that the warrant of the secular power would not be withheld. It was immediately obtained ; but from what minister of the law is not known. The usual formalities of degradation from the orders of the priesthood were dispensed with; and in a few hours after Hamilton had heard his doom in the cathedral, executioners were preparing the stake at which he was to die, in front of the gates of St. Salvator's College.

“To account for this cruel and indecent haste, it has been surmised by our historians that the clergy were apprehensive of the execution being stayed by the interposition of the king. But the king, at that moment, was at the shrine of St. Duthac. And Angus, his prime minister, was not the man to employ his power to his own disadvantage. If he had all the strength be had none of the feelings or natural affections of a king. It is more probable that the bishops were in dread of Sir James Hamilton's attempt to effect à rescue. Alane informs us that the guard which conducted the Reformer between the cathedral and castle was several thousand strong. Such an imposing display of force could only be owing to an apprehension of attack; and the same apprehension is sufficient to account for the hastening of the execution.

"At noon Patrick Hamilton was seated at table in an apartment of the castle, awaiting calmly the signal for setting out to the closing scene. The martyr was ready for the stake, as well as the stake for the martyr. The spirit of power and of love had fallen

[merged small][ocr errors]

abundantly upon him, and the most perfect composure, resolution, and self-devotion filled his soul. When the hour of noon struck he sent for the captain and inquired whether all was ready, The captain, more humane than his masters, was unable to tell him plainly the fatal truth; he could only hint that the last hour had even come. Hamilton immediately rose from his seat, and, putting his hand into the captain's, valked forth with a quick step towards the place of execution. He carried in his right hand a copy of the evangelists, and was accompanied by his servant and a few intimate friends. When he came in sight of the spot, he uncovered his head, and, lifting up his eyes to heaven, addressed himself in silent prayer to Him who alone could give him a martyr's strength and victory. On reaching the stake, he handed to one of his friends the precious volume which had long been his companion and the rod of his strength; and taking off his cap and gown and other upper garments, he gave them to his attendant, with the words, These will not profit in the fire; they will profit thee. After this, of me thou canst receive no commodity, except the example of my death, which I pray thee bear in mind. For albeit it be bitter to the flesh, and fearful before man, yet is it the entrance to eternal life, which pone shall possess that denies Christ Jesus before this wicked generation.'

* The officials of the archbishop had stationed themselves near the stake, and made a last attempt to overcome his constancy. They offered him his life if he would recant the confession which he had made in the cathedral. “As to my confession,' he replied, 'I will not deny it for the awe of your fire, for my confession and belief is in Christ Jesus. Therefore I will not deny it; and I will rather be content that my body burn in this fire for confession of my faith in Christ, than my soul should burn in the fire of hell for denying the same. But as to the sentence prononnced against me this day by the bishops and doctors, I here, in presence of you all, appeal contrary the said sentence and judgment given against me, and take me to the mercy of God.'

"The executioners then stepped forward to do their office. They bound the martyr to the stake by an iron chain, which was passed round his middle, and they prepared to set fire to the pile of wood and coals. The servant of God,' says Pitscottie, entered in contemplation and prayer to Almighty God to be merciful to the people who persecuted him, for there were many of them blinded in ignorance, that they knew not what they did. He also besought Christ Jesus to be Mediator for him to the Father, and that he would strengthen him with his holy Spirit, that he might steadfastly abide the cruel pains and flames of fire prepared for him by that cruel people. Addressing himself likewise to the Father, he prayed that the pains of that torment might not be the occasion to make him swerve from any point of his faith in Christ Jesus, but to strengthen and augment him in his spirit and knowledge of the promise of God, and to receive his soul in his hands for Christ Jesus' sake, In whose name I make this oblation and offering-that is to say, my body in the fire, and my soul in the hands of Almighty God.'

* Fire was now laid to the pile, and exploded some powder which was placed among the faggots. The martyr's left hand and left cheek were scorched by the explosion ; but though thrice kindled the flames took no steady hold of the pile. Have you no dry wood?' demanded the sufferer. 'Have you no more gunpowder?' It was some time before fresh billets and powder could be brought from the castle, and his sufferings during the interval were extremely acute. Notwithstanding, 'he uttered divers comfortable speeches to the bystanders,' and addressed himself calmly to more than one of the friars, who molested him with their cries, bidding him convert, pray to our Lady, and say, 'Salve Regina. To one of them he said with a smile, 'You are late with your advice, when you see me on the point of being consumed in the flames. If I had chosen to recant I need not have been here. But I pray you come forward and testify the truth of your religion by putting your little finger into this fire, in which I am burning with my whole body.' To another of the friars he was constrained to speak in a severer and more indignant tone. It was Friar Campbell, his betrayer and accuser. That bad man was foremost among the tormentors of his last moments. Once and again the sufferer besought him to depart and no more to trouble him, but in vain. At last he struck upon his conscience with these words of righteous severity: 'Wicked man! thou knowest it is the truth of God for which I now suffer. So much thou didst confess unto me in private, and thereupon I appeal thee to answer before the judgment-seat of Christ.'

"Patrick Hamilton bore in many points a resemblance to the beloved disciple John. But John was a son of thunder as well as the apostle of love. Sometimes, when truth required it, the words which fell from him were liker bolts from the clouds than honey from the comb. The Reformer had much of his spirit of love,' but he had much also of his 'spirit of power.'

« ZurückWeiter »