From the Lakes of Killarney to the Golden Horn
SCOTLAND AND THE SCOTCH
Edinburgh, June 3d.
In making the tour of Great Britain, there is an advantage in taking Ireland first, Scotland next, and England last, – since in this way one is always going from the less to the more interesting. To the young American traveller "fresh and green," with enthusiasm unexpended, it seems on landing in Ireland as if there never was such a bit of green earth, and indeed it is a very interesting country. But many as are its attractions, Scotland has far more, in that it is the home of a much greater people, and is invested with far richer historical and poetical associations; it has been the scene of great historical events; it is the land of Wallace and Bruce, of Reformers and Martyrs, of John Knox and the Covenanters, and of great preachers down to the days of Chalmers and Guthrie; and it has been immortalized by the genius of poets and novelists, who have given a fresh interest to the simple manners of the people, as well as to their lakes and mountains.
And after all, it is this human interest which is the great interest of any country – not its hills and valleys, its lakes and rivers alone, but these features of natural beauty and sublimity, illumined and glorified by the presence of man, by the record of what he has suffered and what he has achieved, of his love and courage, his daring and devotion; and nowhere are these more identified with the country itself than here, nowhere do they more speak from the very rocks and hills and glens.
Scotland, though a great country, is not a very large one, and such are now the facilities of travel that one can go very quickly to almost any point. A few hours will take you into the heart of the Highlands. We made in one day the excursion to Stirling, and to Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine, and felt at every step how much the beauties of nature are heightened by associations with romance or history. From Stirling Castle one looks down upon a dozen battle-fields. He is in sight of Bannockburn, where Bruce drove back the English invader, and of other fields associated with Wallace, the hero of Scotland, as William Tell is of Switzerland. Once among the lakes he surrenders himself to his imagination, excited by romance. The poetry of Scott gives to the wild glens and moors a greater charm than the bloom of the heather. The lovely lake catches, more beautiful than the rays of sunset,
"A light that never was on sea or shore,
The inspiration and the poet's dream."
Loch Katrine is a very pretty sheet of water, lying as it does at the foot of rugged mountains, yet it is not more beautiful than hundreds of small lakes among our Northern hills, but it derives a poetic charm from being the scene of "The Lady of the Lake." A little rocky islet is pointed out as Ellen's Isle. An open field by the roadside, which would attract no attention, immediately becomes an object of romantic interest when the coachman tells us it was the scene of the combat between Fitz James and Roderick Dhu. The rough country over which we are riding just now is no wilder than many of the roads among the White Mountains – but it is the country of Rob Roy! I have climbed through many a rocky mountain gorge as wild as the Trossachs, but they had not Walter Scott to people them with his marvellous creations.
A student of the religious part of Scottish history will find another interest here, as he remembers how, in the days of persecution, the old Covenanters sought refuge in these glens, and here found shelter from those pursuing rough-riders, Claverhouse's dragoons. Thus it is the history of Scotland, and the genius of her writers, that give such interest to her country and her people; and as I stood at the grave of John Wilson (Christopher North), I blessed the hand that had depicted so tenderly the "Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life," presenting such varied scenes in the cottage and the manse, in the glen and on the moor, but everywhere illustrating the patient trust and courage of this wonderful people. It is a fit winding-up to the tour of Scotland, that commonly the traveller's last visit, as he comes down to England, is to Abbotsford, the home of Walter Scott; to Melrose Abbey, which a few lines of his poetry have invested with an interest greater than that of other similar ruins; and to Dryburgh Abbey, where he sleeps.
Edinburgh is the most picturesque city in Europe, as it is cleft in twain by a deep gorge or ravine, on either side of which the two divisions of the city, the Old Town and the New Town, stand facing each other. From the Royal Hotel, where we are, in Princes Street, just opposite the beautiful monument to Walter Scott, we look across this gorge to long ranges of buildings in the Old Town, some of which are ten stories high; and to the Castle, lifted in air four hundred feet by a cliff that rears its rocky front from the valley below, its top girt round with walls, and frowning with batteries. What associations cluster about those heights! For hundreds of years, even before the date of authentic history, that has been a military stronghold. It has been besieged again and again. Cromwell tried to take it, but its battlements of rock proved inaccessible even to his Ironsides. There, in a little room hardly bigger than a closet, Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to a prince, who when but eight days old was let down in a basket from the cliff, that the life so precious to two kingdoms as that of the sovereign in whom Scotland and England were to be united, might not perish by murderous hands. And there is St. Giles' Cathedral, where John Knox thundered, and where James VI. (the infant that was born in the castle) when chosen to be James I. of England, took leave of his Scottish subjects.
At the other end of Edinburgh is Holyrood Castle, whose chief interest is from its association with the mother of James, the beautiful but ill-fated Mary. How all that history, stranger and sadder than any romance, comes back again, as we stand on the very spot where she stood when she was married; and pass through the rooms in which she lived, and see the very bed on which she slept, unconscious of the doom that was before her, and trace all the surroundings of her most romantic and yet most tragic history. Such are some of the associations which gather around Edinburgh!
I find here my friend Mr. William Nelson (of the famous publishing house of Nelson and Sons), whose hospitality I enjoyed for a week in the summer of 1867; and he, with his usual courtesy, gave up a whole day to show us Edinburgh, taking us to all the beautiful points of view and places of historical interest – to the Castle and Holyrood, and the Queen's Drive, around Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags. Mr. Nelson's house is a little out of the city, under the shadow of Arthur's Seat, near a modest manse, which has been visited by hundreds of American ministers, as it was the home of the late Dr. Guthrie. His brother, Mr. Thomas Nelson, has lately erected one of the most beautiful private houses I have seen in Scotland, or anywhere else. I doubt if there is a finer one in Edinburgh; and what gives it a special interest to an American, is that it was built wholly out of the rise of American securities. During our civil war, when most people in England thought the Great Republic was gone, he had faith, and invested thousands of pounds in our government bonds, the rise in which has paid entirely for this quite baronial mansion, so that he has some reason to call it his American house. So many in Great Britain have lost by American securities, that it was pleasant to know of one who had reaped the reward of his faith in the strength of our government and the integrity of our people.
When we reached Edinburgh both General Assemblies were just closing their annual meetings. I had met in Glasgow, on Sunday, at the Barony church (where he is successor to Dr. Norman Macleod), John Marshall Lang, D.D., who visited America as a delegate to our General Assembly, and left a most favorable impression in our country; who told me that their Assembly – that of the National Church – would close the next day, and advised me to hasten to Edinburgh before its separation. So we came on with him on Monday, and looked in twice at the proceedings, but had not courage to stay to witness the end, which was not reached till four o'clock the next morning! But by the courtesy of Dr. Lang, I received an invitation from the excellent moderator, Dr. Sellars, (who had been in America, and had the most friendly feeling for our countrymen,) to a kind of state dinner, which it is an honored custom of this old Church to give at the close of the Assembly. The moderator is allowed two hundred pounds to entertain. He gives a public breakfast every morning during the session, and winds up with this grand feast. If the morning repasts were on such a generous scale as that which we saw, the £200 could go but a little way. There were about eighty guests, including the most eminent of the clergy, principals and professors of colleges, dignitaries of the city of Edinburgh, judges and law officers of the crown, etc. I sat next to Dr. Lang, who pointed out to me the more notable guests, and gave me much information between the courses; and Dr. Schaff sat next to Professor Milligan. As became an Established Church, there were toasts to the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and her Majesty's Ministers. Altogether it was a very distinguished gathering, which I greatly enjoyed. I am glad that we in America are beginning to cultivate relations with the National Church of Scotland. As to the question of Church and State, of course our sympathies are more with the Free Church, but that should not prevent a friendly intercourse with so large a body, to which we are drawn by the ties of a common faith and order. Delegates from the National Church of Scotland will always be welcome in our Assemblies, especially when they are such men as Dr. Lang and Professor Milligan; and our representatives are sure of a hearty reception here. Dr. Adams and Dr. Shaw, two or three years since, electrified their Assembly, and they do not cease to speak of it. Certainly we cannot but be greatly benefited by cultivating the most cordial relations with a body which contains so large an array of men distinguished for learning, eloquence, and piety.
In the Free Church things are done with less of form and state than in the National Church, but there is intense life and rigor. I looked in upon their Assembly, but found it occupied, like the other, chiefly with those routine matters which are hastened through at the close of a session. But I heard from members that the year has been one of great prosperity. The labors of the American revivalists, Moody and Sankey, have been well received, and the impression of all with whom I conversed was that they had done great good. In financial matters I was told that there had been such an outpouring of liberality as had never been known in Scotland before. The success of the Sustentation Fund is something marvellous, and must delight the heart of that noble son of Scotland, Dr. McCosh.
I am disappointed to find that the cause of Union has not made more progress. There is indeed a prospect of the "Reformed" Church being absorbed into the Free Church, thus putting an end to an old secession. But it is a small body of only some eighty churches, while the negotiations with the far larger body of United Presbyterians, after being carried on for many years, are finally suspended, and may not be resumed. As to the National Church, it clings to its connection with the State as fondly as ever, and the Free Church, having grown strong without its aid, now disdains its alliance. On both sides the attitude is one of respectful but pretty decided aversion. So far from drawing nearer to each other, they appear to recede farther apart. It was thought that some advance had been made on the part of the Old Kirk, in the act of Parliament abolishing patronage, but the Free Church seemed to regard this as a temptation of the adversary to allure them from the stand which they had taken more than thirty years ago, and which they had maintained in a long and severe, but glorious, struggle. They will not listen to the voice of the charmer, no, not for an hour.
This attitude of the Free Church toward the National Church, coupled with the fact that its negotiations with the United Presbyterians have fallen through, does not give us much hope of a general union among the Presbyterians of Scotland, at least in our day. In fact there is something in the Scotch nature which seems to forbid such coalescence. It does not fuse well. It is too hard and "gritty" to melt in every crucible. For this reason they cannot well unite with any body. Their very nature is centrifugal rather than centripetal. They love to argue, and the more they argue the more positive they become. The conviction that they are right, is absolute on both sides. Whatever other Christian grace they lack, they have at least attained to a full assurance of faith. No one can help admiring their rugged honesty and their strong convictions, upheld with unflinching courage. They become heroes in the day of battle, and martyrs in the day of persecution; but as for mutual concession, and mutual forgiveness, that, I fear, is not in them.
It is painful to see this alienation between two bodies, for both of which we cannot but feel the greatest respect. It does not become us Americans to offer any counsel to those who are older and wiser than we; yet if we might send a single message across the sea, it should be to say that we have learned by all our conflicts and struggles to cherish two things – which are our watchwords in Church and State —liberty and union. We prize our liberty. With a great price we have obtained this freedom, and no man shall take it from us. But yet we have also learned how precious a thing is brotherly love and concord. Sweet is the communion of saints. This is the last blessing which we desire for Scotland, that has so many virtues that we cannot but wish that she might abound in this grace also. Even with this imperfection, we love her country and her people. Whoever has had access to Scottish homes, must have been struck with their beautiful domestic character, with the attachment in families, with the tenderness of parents, and the affectionate obedience of children. A country in which the scenes of "The Cotter's Saturday Night" are repeated in thousands of homes, we cannot help loving as well as admiring. Wherefore do I say from my heart, A thousand blessings on dear old Scotland! Peace be within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces!
MOODY AND SANKEY IN LONDON
London, June 10th.
To an American, visiting London just now, the object of most interest is the meetings of his countrymen, Moody and Sankey. He has heard so much of them, that he is curious to see with his own eyes just what they are. One thing is undeniable – that they have created a prodigious sensation. London is a very big place to make a stir in. A pebble makes a ripple in a placid lake, while a rock falling from the side of a mountain disappears in an instant in the ocean. London is an ocean. Yet here these meetings have been thronged as much as in other cities of Great Britain, and that not by the common people alone (although they have heard gladly), but by representatives of all classes. For several weeks they were held in the Haymarket Theatre, right in the centre of fashionable London, and in the very place devoted to its amusements; yet it was crowded to suffocation, and not only by Dissenters, but by members of the Established Church, among whom were such men as Dean Stanley, and Mr. Gladstone, and Lord-Chancellor Cairns. The Duchess of Sutherland was a frequent attendant. All this indicates, if only a sensation, at least a sensation of quite extraordinary character. No doubt the multitude was drawn together in part by curiosity. The novelty was an attraction; and, like the old Athenians, they ran together into the market-place to hear some new thing. This alone would have drawn them once or twice, but the excitement did not subside. If some fell off, others rushed in, so that the place was crowded to the last. Those meetings closed just before we reached London, to be opened in another quarter of the great city.
Last Sunday we went to hear Mr. Spurgeon, and he announced that on Thursday (to-day) Messrs. Moody and Sankey would commence a new series of meetings for the especial benefit of the South of London. A large structure had been erected for the purpose. He warmly endorsed the movement, and spoke in high praise of the men, especially for the modesty and tact and the practical judgment they showed along with their zeal; and urged all, instead of standing aloof and criticizing, to join heartily in the effort which he believed would result in great good. In a conversation afterward in his study, Mr. Spurgeon said to me that Moody was the most simple-minded of men; that he told him on coming here, "I am the most over-estimated and over-praised man in the world." This low esteem of himself, and readiness to take any place, so that he may do his Master's work, ought to disarm the disposition to judge him according to the rules of rigid literary, or rhetorical, or even theological, criticism.
This new tabernacle which has been built for Mr. Moody is set up at Camberwell Green, on the south side of the Thames, not very far from Mr. Spurgeon's church. It is a huge structure, standing in a large enclosure, which is entered by gates. The service was to begin at three o'clock. It was necessary to have tickets for admission, which I obtained from the Hon. Arthur Kinnaird, a Member of Parliament, who is about as well known in London as Lord Shaftesbury for his activity in all good works. He advised me to go early to anticipate the crowd. We started from Piccadilly at half-past one, and drove quietly over Westminster Bridge, thinking we should be in ample time. But as we approached Camberwell Green it was evident that there was a tide setting toward the place of meeting, which swelled till the crowd became a rush. There were half a dozen entrances. We asked for the one to the platform, and were directed some distance around. Arrived at the gates we found them shut and barred, and guarded by policemen, who said they had received orders to admit no more, as the place was already more than full, although the pressure outside was increasing every instant. We might have been turned back from the very doors of the sanctuary, if Mr. Kinnaird had not given me, besides the tickets, a letter to Mr. Hodder, who was the chief man in charge, directing him to take us in and give us seats on the platform. This I passed through the gates to the policeman, who sent it on to some of the managers within, and word came back that the bearers of the letter should be admitted. But this was easier said than done. How to admit us two without admitting others was a difficult matter; indeed, it was an impossibility. The policemen tried to open the gates a little way, so as to permit us to pass in; but as soon as the gates were ajar, the guardians themselves were swept away. In vain they tried to stem the torrent. The crowd rushed past them, (and would have rushed over them, if they had stood in the way,) and surged up to the building. Here again the crush was terrific. Had we foreseen it, we should not have attempted the passage; but once in the stream, it was easier to go forward than to go back. There was no help for it but to wait till the tide floated us in; and so, after some minutes we were landed at last in one of the galleries, from which we could take in a view of the scene.
It was indeed a wonderful spectacle. The building is somewhat like Barnum's Hippodrome, though not so large, and of better shape for speaking and hearing, being not so oblong, but more square, with deep galleries, and will hold, I should say, at a rough estimate, six or eight thousand people. The front of the galleries was covered with texts in large letters, such as "God is Love"; "Jesus only"; "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith"; "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." At each corner was a room marked "For inquirers."
As we had entered by mistake the wrong door, instead of finding ourselves on the platform beside Mr. Moody, we had been borne by the crowd to the gallery at the other end of the building; but this had one advantage, that of enabling us to test the power of the voices of the speakers to reach such large audiences. While the immense assemblage were getting settled in their places, several hymns were sung, which quietly and gently prepared them for the services that were to follow.
At length Mr. Moody appeared. The moment he rose, there was a movement of applause, which he instantly checked with a wave of his hand, and at once proceeded to business, turning the minds of the audience to something besides himself, by asking them to rise and sing the stirring hymn,
"Ring the bells of heaven! there is joy to-day!"
The whole assembly rose, and caught up the words with such energy that the rafters rang with the mighty volume of sound. A venerable minister, with white locks, then rose, and clinging to the railing for support, and raising his voice, offered a brief but fervent prayer.
Mr. Moody's part in this opening service, it had been announced beforehand, would be merely to preside, while others spoke; and he did little more than to introduce them. He read, however, a few verses from the parable of the talents, and urged on every one the duty to use whatever gift he had, be it great or small, and not bury his talent in a napkin. His voice was clear and strong, and where I sat I heard distinctly. What he said was good, though in no wise remarkable. Mr. Sankey touched us much more as he followed with an appropriate hymn:
"Nothing but leaves!"
As soon as I caught his first notes, I felt that there was one cause of the success of these meetings. His voice is very powerful, and every word was given with such distinctness that it reached every ear in the building. All listened with breathless interest as he sang:
"Nothing but leaves! the Spirit grieves
Over a wasted life;
O'er sins indulged while conscience slept,
O'er vows and promises unkept,
And reaps from years of strife —
Nothing but leaves! nothing but leaves!"
Rev. Mr. Aitken, of Liverpool, then made an address of perhaps half an hour, following up the thought of Mr. Moody on the duty of all to join in the effort they were about to undertake. His address, without being eloquent, was earnest and practical, to which Mr. Sankey gave a thrilling application in another of his hymns, in which the closing line of every verse was,
"Here am I; send me, send me!"
Mr. Spurgeon was reserved for the closing address, and spoke, as he always does, very forcibly. I noticed, as I had before, one great element of his power, viz., his illustrations, which are most apt. For example, he was urging ministers and Christians of all denominations to join in this movement, and wished to show the folly of a contentious spirit among them. To expose its absurdity, he said:
"A few years ago I was in Rome, and there I saw in the Vatican a statue of two wrestlers, in the attitude of men trying to throw each other. I went back two years after, and they were in the same struggle, and I suppose are at it still!" Everybody saw the application. Such a constrained posture might do in a marble statue, but could anything be more ridiculous than for living men thus to stand always facing each other in an attitude of hostility and defiance? "And there too," he proceeded, "was another statue of a boy pulling a thorn out of his foot. I went to Rome again, and there he was still, with the same bended form, and the same look of pain, struggling to be free. I suppose he is there still, and will be to all eternity!" What an apt image of the self-inflicted torture of some who, writhing under real or imagined injury, hug their grievance and their pain, instead of at once tearing it away, and standing erect as men in the full liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free.
Again, he was illustrating the folly of some ministers in giving so much time and thought to refuting infidel objections, by which they often made their people's minds familiar with what they would never have heard of, and filled them with doubt and perplexity. He said the process reminded him of what was done at a grotto near Naples, which is filled with carbonic acid gas so strong that life cannot exist in it, to illustrate which the vile people of the cave seize a wretched dog, and throw him in, and in a few minutes the poor animal is nearly dead. Then they deluge him with cold water to bring him round. Just about as wise are those ministers who, having to preach the Gospel of Christ, think they must first drop their hearers into a pit filled with the asphyxiating gas of a false philosophy, to show how they can apply their hydropathy in recovering them afterwards. Better let them keep above ground, and breathe all the time the pure, blessed air of heaven.
Illustrations like these told upon the audience, because they were so apt, and so informed with common sense. Mr. Spurgeon has an utter contempt for scientific charlatans and literary dilettanti, and all that class of men who have no higher business in life than to carp and criticise. He would judge everything by its practical results. If sneering infidels ask, What good religion does? he points to those it has saved, to the men it has reformed, whom it has lifted up from degradation and death; and exclaims with his tremendous voice, "There they are! standing on the shore, saved from shipwreck and ruin!" That result is the sufficient answer to all cavil and objection.
"And now," continued Mr. Spurgeon, applying what he had said, "here are these two brethren who have come to us from over the sea, whom God has blessed wherever they have labored in Scotland, in Ireland, and in England. It may be said they are no wiser or better than our own preachers or laymen. Perhaps not. But somehow, whether by some novelty of method, or some special tact, they have caught the popular ear, and that of itself is a great point gained – they have got a hold on the public mind." Again he resorted to illustration to make his point.
"Some years ago," he said, "I was crossing the Maritime Alps. We were going up a pretty heavy grade, and the engine, though a powerful one, labored hard to drag us up the steep ascent, till at length it came to a dead stop. I got out to see what was the matter, for I didn't like the look of things, and there we were stuck fast in a snow-drift! The engine was working as hard as ever, and the wheels continued to revolve; but the rails were icy, and the wheels could not take hold – they could not get any grip– and so the train was unable to move. So it is with some men, and some ministers. They are splendid engines, and they have steam enough. The wheels revolve all right, only they don't get any grip on the rails, and so the train doesn't move. Now our American friends have somehow got this grip on the public mind; when they speak or sing, the people hear. Without debating why this is, or how it is, let us thank God for it, and try to help them in the use of the power which God has given them."
After this stirring address of Mr. Spurgeon, Mr. Moody announced the arrangements for the meetings, which would be continued in that place for thirty days; and with another rousing hymn the meeting closed. This, it is given out, is to be the last month of Moody and Sankey in England, and of course they hope it will be the crown of all their labors.
After the service was ended, and the audience had partly dispersed, we made our way around to the other end of the building, and had a good shake of the hand with Mr. Moody, with whom I had spent several days at Mr. Henry Bewley's, in Dublin, in 1867, and then travelled with him to London, little dreaming that he would ever excite such a commotion in this great Babylon, or have such a thronging multitude to hear him as I have seen to-day.
And now, what of it all? It would be presumption to give an opinion on a single service, and that where the principal actor in these scenes was almost silent. Certainly there are some drawbacks. For my part, I had rather worship in less of a crowd. If there is anything which I shrink from, it is getting into a crush from which there is no escape, and being obliged to struggle for life. Sometimes, indeed, it may be a duty, but it is not an agreeable one. Paul fought with beasts at Ephesus, but I don't think he liked it; and it seems to me a pretty near approach to being thrown to the lions, to be caught in a rushing, roaring London crowd.
And still I must not do it injustice. It was not a mob, but only a very eager and excited concourse of people; who, when once settled in the building, were attentive and devout. Perhaps the assembly to-day was more so than usual, as the invitation for this opening service had been "to Christians," and probably the bulk of those present were members of neighboring churches. They were, for the most part, very plain people, but none the worse for that, and they joined in the service with evident interest, singing heartily the hymns, and turning over their Bibles to follow the references to passages of Scripture. Their simple sincerity and earnestness were very touching.
As to Mr. Moody, in the few remarks he made I saw no sign of eloquence, not a single brilliant flash, such as would have lighted up a five minutes' talk of our friend Talmage; but there was the impressiveness of a man who was too much in earnest to care for flowers of rhetoric; whose heart was in his work, and who, intent on that alone, spoke with the utmost simplicity and plainness. I hear it frequently said that his power is not in any extraordinary gift of speech, but in organizing Christian work. One would suppose that this long-continued labor would break him down, but on the contrary, he seems to thrive upon it, and has grown stout and burly as any Englishman, and seems ready for many more campaigns.
As to the result of his labors, instead of volunteering an opinion on such slight observation, it is much more to the purpose to give the judgment of others who have had full opportunity to see his methods, and to observe the fruits. I have conversed with men of standing and influence in Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, and Edinburgh – men not at all likely to be carried away by any sudden fanaticism. All speak well of him, and believe that he has done good in their respective cities. This certainly is very high testimony, and for the present is the best we can have. They say that he shows great tact in keeping clear of difficulties, not allying himself with sects or parties, and awakening no prejudices, so that Baptists, like Mr. Spurgeon, and Methodists and Independents and Presbyterians, all work together. In Scotland, men of the Free Church and of the National Church joined in the meetings, and one cannot but hope that the tendency of this general religious movement will be to incline the hearts of those noble, but now divided brethren, more and more towards each other.
What will be the effect in London, it is too soon to say. It seems almost impossible to make any impression on a city which is a world in itself. London has nearly four millions of inhabitants – more than the six States of New England put together! It is the monstrous growth of our modern civilization. With its enormous size, it contains more wealth than any city in the world, and more poverty– more luxury on the one hand, and more misery on the other. To those who have explored the low life of London, the revelations are terrific. The wretchedness, the filth, the squalor, the physical pollution and moral degradation in which vast numbers live, is absolutely appalling.