Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

I am so beloved in the island, that I have all my peats brought home carriage free.”

This is my story,—now to the prayer of my petition. I never before envied you the possession of the Orkneys, which I now do, only to provide for this eloquent, innocent apostle. The sun has refused your barren isles his kindly influence; do not de prive them of so pleasant a preacher :-let not so great à treasure be for ever lost to that damned inhospitable country; for I assure you, were the archbishop of Canterbury to hear him, or hear of him, he would not do less than make him an archdeacon.

The man has but one weakness, that of preferring the Orkneys to all the earth.

This way, and no other, you have a chance for salvation.--Do this man good, and he will pray for you. This will be a better purchase than your Irish estate, or the Orkneys. I think it will help me forward too, since I am the man who told you of the man so worthy and deserving; so pious, so eloquent, and whose prayers may do so much good. Till I hear from you on this head, yours in all meekness, love, and benevolence,

H. D. P.s. Think what an unspeakable pleasure it will be to look down from heaven, and see Rigby, Masterton, all the Campbells and Nabobs, swimming in fire and brimstone, while you are sitting with Whitefield and his old women, looking beautiful, frisking, and singing; all which you may have by settling this man after the death of the present incumbent.

[The following is inserted merely to show what effect the singular letter

. of Sir Hew Dalrymple produced.]

LETTER FROM MR. DISHINGTON TO SIR JOHN

SINCLAIR.

Edinburgh, August 2d, 1791. SIR,_Though it may seem ridiculous for one to talk ef his own private concerns, I hope I may, without incurring the censure of egotism or vanity, be allowed to lay before you the following narrative, which may.serve as an explanation of Sir Hew Dal, rymple's letter. In the year 1776, being an assistant to a minister in the Orkneys, who was then in a very ill state of health, Lowent to Edinburgh, to try, if possible, to secure the survivancy, and to be appointed his successor. In this attempt being disappointed, I went to pay a visit to Mr. Thomas Hepburn, minister at Athelstaneford, with whom I had contracted an intimacy in my early years, and from whom I had often experienced every mark of the most sincere friendship. Indeed, it is but justice to his memory to observe, that he was the friend and patron of young men who had none to recommend them, or to introduce them into the world. One Saturday evening, when I happened to be with him at Athelstaneford, he received a letter from one of his brethren, informing him, that being on his way to pay Mr. Hepburn, a visit, and preach for him next day, he had unfortunately fallen

from his horse, and received a slight hurt in his shoulder. At the same time he desired him, if any preachers were in the neighbourhood, to send one to officiate for him; upon which I was despatched away on Sunday morning, and had the good fortune to be taken notice of by my worthy and honourable friend Sir Hew Dalrymple, whose letter to Sir Laurence Dundas procured me my present living. · Before my presentation came to hand, I received a letter from Mr. Hepburn, dated October 8th, 1776; a paragraph or two of which, as far as it respects the present subject, I here send you. “ Dear Andrew, the last time I saw Sir Hew, he told me he had spoke to Sir Laurence Dundas, who told him, “ Sir Hew, your man shall get the first vacancy; and to shew you that I am fixed in this matter, I will tell you that the Princess Amelia desired the favour of me to give my first kirk to'a young man of her recommendation; I told her I was sorry I was pre-engaged. She asked to whom? when I replied to you, and she said it was well, for that it was for your man she was applying." This in the days of the renowned Don Quixote, or even in those of modern chivalry, might pass for enchantment; and I tell it you, that your soul may rest at ease. Meanwhile I charge you and Messrs Lindsay and Laing, instantly to notify the first vacancy to me, that I may inform Sir Hew Dalrymple, who is going to winter at London. Whether I write you frequently or not, you may

believe that no man has your happiness more at heart, &c.”

After the presentation came to hand, I was in danger of losing all, by the jure devoluto : the six months since the decease of my predecessor being near elapsed, at the end of which, the right of presentation would have gone from the patron to the presbytery. It was now the depth of winter, and, at that season of the year, there is usually no communication between Orkney and Shetland ; when I had therefore given up all for lost, a vessel came into Papa Sound, in Orkney, very near the manse where I resided; and on making inquiry, I was told it was the packet from Leith on her way for Shetland. There again was another surprising and uncommon circumstance, for, it is very remarkable, that this same packet was never known to put into the Orkneys, either before or since that period. Not to trouble you any longer with a detail of uninteresting circumstances, I hasten to conclude with one general remark. Such a combination of fortuitous incidents, or what you please to call them, served to impress on my mind the truth of Cicero's observations more forcibly, and with a more powerful effect, than a whole body of divinity, or 50,000 sermons, preached by the most celebrated doctors of the church. “ Nec vero universo generi humano solum, sed etiam SINGULis, Deus consuli et provideri solet."* I am, &c. A. D.

the Providence seems to watch over the happiness, not only of the human race in general, but even of individuals.

· THE ATHEISTICAL CLUB.

This unbelieving society of irreligious profligates met for several years at an eminent tavern in Westminster, where, over the bottle, they used to assert the devil's cause against the priest's prerogative ; and argue the wide world into so precarious a state, as if the whole frame of nature was but one cake of atoms, moulded by mere accident into the form it bears, afterwards hard baked in the spacious oven of immensity ; and that the heavens were no more than the upper crust, and hell the bottom of the loaf. Such sort of ridiculous as well as impious systems they used frequently to advance out of their heathenish maggots; and rather than give credit to Moses's book of Genesis, they would fancy that the first race of mankind grew upon trees like Solon geese, or started up like mushrooms, thoughtless and forlorn; till by length of time they were improved from Tom Thumbs into men of stature, and so from ignorant pigmies became rational creatures.

The audacious members of this unchristian society were chiefly whimsical physicians, half-learned gentlemen, crack-brained philosophers, and conceited libertines, who having overcharged their brains by reading ill authors with more than their judgments were able to digest, unhappily retained the most pernicious part, which they carefully improved to render themselves singular by their heterodox

« AnteriorContinuar »