McClure's Magazine, April , pp. Afterwards, and Other Stories Ian Maclaren.
The Outlook, March 27, , pp. The Outlook, May 8, , pp. The Outlook, June 26, , pp. Benny and the Tar-Baby John Watson. The Harpers Monthly, December , pp. Books and Bookmen Ian Maclaren. Caesar Needed a Gun John Watson. Collier's Weekly, December 10, , pp. Children of the Resurrection Ian Maclaren. Christianity and Idealism John Watson. Church Folks Ian Maclaren. The Clerical Life John Watson. Companions of the Sorrowful Way Ian Maclaren. The Confessions of a Poacher John Watson. The Cure of Souls Ian Maclaren.
The Curse of Humor Ian Maclaren. The Outlook, July 4, , p. Deathstalker Film John Watson. McClure's Magazine, February , pp. The Doctrines of Grace John Watson. Drumsheugh's Love Story Ian Maclaren. The Bookman, August , pp. Drumsheugh's Reward Ian Maclaren.
The Bookman, October , pp. The Four-fold Christ The Rev. John Watson, D. McClure's Magazine, December , pp. A Government Official Ian Maclaren. Graham of Claverhouse Ian Maclaren. The Guidance of the Inner Light Rev. John Watson. The Outlook, January 4, , p. The Gun on the Table John Watson. The Harpers Monthly, July , pp. Henry Drummond Ian Maclaren. The North American Review, May , pp. The Homely Virtues Ian Maclaren. How Dr. Ideals of Strength John Watson.
In Memoriam: R. Ian Maclaren. Jamie Ian Maclaren. The Harpers Monthly, September , pp. The Century Magazine, May , pp. Kate Carnegie Ian Maclaren. The Bookman, April , pp. The Bookman, December , pp. Do not let any word of mine stand be- tween you and your prayers to the Mother of our Lord. Catholic mysticism always possessed for him a great and holding charm. Never was a man more susceptible to the atmosphere around him. He simply could not live in a hostile air. He could be overborne by views of religion which in fact were not really his.
Though he had plenty of courage, and could stand by a losing cause, his thoughts did not flourish in inhospitable soils or chilling winds. For his work he needed the warm and sunny consciousness of sympathy. He could face contradiction and opposition, but not the steady environment of antagonism. It fol- lowed that when he was played upon by crossing influences his real power was to a considerable extent paralysed.
Though John Watson prided himself on his Scottish ancestry, it was his fortune to be born at Manningtree, a little old-world village in Essex, on November 3rd, In this he was the victim of circumstances. Manningtree has a population of only a few hundreds, a large per- centage of whom derive their livelihood from sea- faring occupations. But the child remained only a very short time in the place, and was never influenced by it.
The preacher whom he most ad- mired, Robertson of Brighton, had as father and mother Scots of very old family, but Robertson was mainly affected by his English environment. Watson, on the other hand, though his great work was done in England, considered himself a Scot of the Scots. My father was born at Braemar, and Gaelic was the language of my paternal grandfather. His father, so far as is remembered, was a somewhat stern, methodi- cal Scotsman, a devout Free Kirk elder, not without some sense of humour, but of too grave and business- like a nature to be attracted very greatly by the ludi- crous.
A servant of the Government, he was most par- ticular that no word disparaging either to his Queen or employers should be permitted in his presence, and every Sunday the toast " The Queen " was drunk with much grave loyalty. Watson's mother possessed an extraordinary gift of mimicry, and a keen sense of humour. It was from her that he inherited his power of story-telling and repartee. Many a time his father endeavoured to check apprecia- tion at the successful mimicking of some pompous per- sonage whose peculiarities and mannerisms had formed the subject of her sport immediately after his departure.
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A splendid and fearless horsewoman, she accustomed her son to ride from infancy, and in spite of the expostula- tions of her husband, and sometimes, though more tim- idly, of her child, she mounted him on the wildest of farm colts. Of Watson's boyhood in Perth, Mr. Mackenzie, his schoolfellow and oldest friend, has most kindly writ- ten to Mr. Frederick Watson: I fancy we got to know one another from the fact of our families being near neighbours and of his father and mine being fellow office-bearers in St.
Leonard's Free Church. We lived then in No. Watson first at No. I find that Mr. Watson was ordained a Deacon in St. Leonard's in , so that your father and I must have known one another from the time we were about five years old at least. I was about six months his senior. We were together when we were very small at a Ladies' Board- ing School where young gentlemen of tender years received the elements of education.
The good ladies some of whom still survive have been lifelong friends. Whenever your father visited Perth, he made a point of calling at the old School, and I know he was warmly welcomed and pointed to as an example of all the virtues. From the Misses M 's establishment, we passed to Perth Acad- emy, and he has chronicled our experiences there in Young Barbarians.
We usually spent our Saturdays together, and I was always particularly keen to make out that it was my turn to come to his house. I suppose this is the way of children, but I think it also indicates that Mr. Watson were very kind to young folks. Of course, we played all sorts of children's games together, and I remember especially the attraction of some splendid " bricks " wooden blocks for building houses, and all sorts of wonderful erections. The special charm was to build a castle which, if our architec- ture was successful, was topped by a pinnacle carrying a red silk flag.
There was also a magic lantern which was exhibited on very special occasions, and I think John was usually the exhibitor, assisted by his father.
Ian MacLaren the Life of the Rev. John Watson by W Robertson Nicoll
It was the first magic lantern I had seen and left a very vivid im- pression, although I think now, with all the modern im- provements, it would be considered a very poor affair. John had a canary which was kept in a brass cage, and sometimes as a great treat we were allowed to see the canary having a bath. We moved in to No. Sometimes we had evening parties at one another's house, and there is a tradition in our family that John, who was rather a delicate child, used to be carried along by his nurse rolled up in a warm plaid.
On arrival he was deposited in the hall, and carefully unwound. I have been trying to remember what our story books were, but I can recollect nothing except The Swiss Family Robinson, Peter Parley, and Men that have risen. The Swiss Family must have made a deep impression, because I remember among our favourite haunts a place at the top of the South Inch which we dubbed " Falcon's Nest," where we attempted to reproduce the most vivid incidents from that story.
I can point out the place to this day. When the weather was good, we used to have frequent excursions to " Cragie Knowes " and the " Woody Island. I should like to say here, however, that in that book, as in all his tales, it is impossible to identify real characters. He had too much good feeling to paint actual portraits, although those fa- miliar with the scenes in which he moved, and the people he met, knew that his characters were drawn from life. For instance, Dr. Davidson, the minister of Drumtochty, is in no sense the portrait of the parish minister whom he knew at Logiealmond, or of any parish minister who was ever there, although he told me he had in view a par- ish minister whom he met in his boyhood and for whom he had a great esteem.
In the same way, while the scene of Young Barbarians is laid at Perth Academy, many of the characters, both masters and boys, are, I fancy, taken from his life at Stirling. Your grand- father, as you know, held the post of Collector of Customs at Perth, and in the discharge of his duties had to pay a yearly or half-yearly visit to Kinross.
On the occasion referred to, John and I were to accompany him. I re- member well the excitement of my having to go the night before from Athole Place to Marshall Place to sleep, in order to be ready for an early start in the morning. The " Col- lector " held his collection in the Inn on the main street in the town. We boys supposed we were very helpful in counting the cash paid by the various small merchants and old wives who took out licenses to deal in tea and tobacco, and after the business of the day was over and the books closed, we all sallied forth to the shore of Loch Leven, where we spent the afternoon.
That was my first visit to that historic scene and made a very deep impression on my mind. Watson, who had a humorous way of depreciating himself, used to describe himself as averse from study, retiring, and slow-witted in his childhood. His father once threw a book at his head, and remarked with much frankness that " of all the stupid blockheads he stood alone. In fact till the end of his col- lege days he was accustomed to return during holidays and vacations to the farms, and in this manner acquired not only a knowledge of the country, but a great love for farming, and a desire to follow that profession.
Ross of Glasgow, writes : In the summer of , it was my good fortune to have many a talk with Watson. My father was a near neighbour of his uncles Archibald and William, who were successively tenants of the farm of Grange of Aberbothrick. There was a good deal of coming and going between the two farms, especially when the two students were at home for the summer holidays. Watson had by this time " discovered " Dr. Barty, the parish minister of Bendochy, who supplied him with many a touch in his subsequent portraits of the Scottish parish minister. He had also " discovered " Dr.
Baxter of Blairgowrie, whose evangelical earnestness struck deeper chords in his nature; what with his characterisation of the sayings and idiosyncrasies of ministers in the neigh- bourhood, of farmers at market or at roups, and of plough- men in the fields or in the bothies, and with his never-end- ing sallies, he made the tea-table at Grange or Leitfie a lively centre of wit and merriment. Now and again, his father, courtliest of men, would intervene with an " O John!
For example, within a short distance of the Grange is, or rather was, for a bridge has now been built, the Bar- mondy ford in the river Isla. In my boyhood, a horse and cart with the driver were swept into the deep water below it and were lost. Watson told me in later years that this incident had coloured his description of the crossing of the Drumtochty ford.
It was on the large farms of Strathmore he got his insight into the seamy side of the life of farm-servants and the extra hands employed in harvest time, and in potato lifting I believe that he several times acted as paymaster for the casual labourers on behalf of his uncles, and was thus brought into close contact with them. His experience of their moral laxity was, I believe, exceptional. With ref- erence to this experience, he said to me in later years, that if he were to depict some phases of rural life, as he had known it, The House with the Green Shutters would have been considered, in comparison, a flattering portrait.
The occasions for the abuses he deplored were absent on the smaller farms in the Logiealmond district. But if in his literary sketches he idealised life on a Scottish farm, this was due not to ignorance of the grim realities but to his high conception of the moral functions of literature. My mother and he were greatly drawn to each other. In later years when he had become famous, he never missed a chance of calling upon her, and it was a joy to him to get a clap on the shoulder from one who had known and liked him as a young lad. With that tender thoughtfulness which was characteristic of him, he sent her a beautiful little letter of congratulation on her 87th birthday.
It happened occasionally that he and I rode together or drove about the country in a gig. One drive I recall. He was at the time under call to St. Matthew's, Glasgow. We started from my home to drive to Glenisla and climb Mount Blair a distance of fifteen miles. We had to put up our horse at the farm of Abrick on the lower slope of the Mount , owned and tenanted by a well-known godly man, Mr. John Mackenzie, an esteemed friend of Dr. Alexander Whyte. Before the good man would have any- thing to do with us, he put two searching questions : "Had ye ony whisky at the inn as ye came by?
But when I let it out that my friend was under call to be colleague to Dr. Samuel Miller, frigidity gave way to effusiveness. Straightway, Watson was deep in talk upon theological problems with the good man, and so prolonged was their talk that I feared we should never see the top of the hill. We did the ascent, and on our return to Abrick there was a bountiful " spread " for Dr. Miller's future colleague. One letter only survives from his earliest years, and I quote it: Drumlochy, May 3rd, The first time that we went we took the lamp with us and it arrived quite safe: The second time the gingerbread cake, and we got some very fine sweet butter home with us, as aunt has none.
I was down at Church last Thursday, being Aunt's fast day. We had the Revd. Crichton of Ar- broath in the afternoon, and from both we heard very good sermons. Uncle William has had a very bad cold and cough, but it's getting better. I have nothing but por- ridge and milk for breakfast, and I like them very much. Aunt and Uncle say that I am improving every day. You need not alarm yourself about Uncle, as he is almost well. It will be observed that Watson was brought up under the ministry of the Rev. John Milne, of St. Leonard's, Perth. Milne belonged to what was known in Scot- land as the M'Cheyne school.
This was made up of men who were noted for their sanctity and their evangelistic zeal. Milne left his ministry in Perth to become a mis- sionary in Calcutta, and after an interval returned to his old church. His life was written by Dr. Horatius Bonar, and he has been most felicitously described by the Rev. John Hunt, Vicar of Otford, Kent, and author of many important books on the history of theol- ogy.
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Hunt, who in his early years attended Mr. Milne's church, says : We have said that Mr. Milne's ministry was successful. He had no great gifts of intellect; he had no eloquence; his learning was not extensive; in fact, his reading seems to have been unusually limited. What, then, was the secret of his power? We might say at once it was that he preached religion rather than theology; and he lived what he preached.
If he did not know the difficulties that beset men who think, he yet knew the wants of men in general. He knew the power of sympathy, and he knew that the story of the life and the death of Jesus will reach men's hearts to the end of time. And then he had mastered the evil that was in himself. No one ever knew him to be angry. He could bear opposition; he could suffer to see himself despised or thrust aside if any good came of it.
He used to buy things at a shop in Perth where the shopkeeper was not civil to him. He was asked why he continued to go where his custom was not wanted; and he answered that he was trying to soften that man by kindness.
Rev. John Watson (Ian Maclaren). November 3, 1850-May 6, 1907.
He could not enter into the thoughts of men who are perplexed with the ways of Prov- idence, or have doubts about revelation, or who do not un- derstand revelation in the same way as he understood it; but he did not rail against them as atheists, infidels, neolo- gians, or sceptics. He knew that men were not to be won by hard names. Nor did he speak evil of Christians who did not belong to his own party. Writing to a servant in England who had been a member of his congregation, he said, " You must not despise the Church of England.
If I know the Lord at all, it was in her that He was first re- vealed to me. His religion was not made up of certain opinions; it was a life. It appears that in his youth Mr. Milne had a fall which affected his head. How far this served as a thorn in the flesh to crucify him to the world we do not know: his zeal often seemed to surpass the bounds of reason. He refused to go into society where he could not make religion the sole subject of conversation. He was out of sympathy with what is secular or " worldly.
Milne said it was only true of King Jesus, to whom also all the Jacobite songs were ap- plicable. He lived in daily expectation of the second advent. Milne was one of those happy souls over whose head heaven is still open, and the angels of God ascending and descending. The Bible was to him a book of which every letter is divine, and all its figures realities.
His faith was that of a child as simple, as sincere, as living, as earnest. One of Watson's chief recollections of early church- going was of the ordination of a minister. It seemed to the child as if the proceedings would never come to an end, and as one minister after another mounted the pulpit and each began a new sermon, despair seized his heart.
His mother, ever weaker than his father, con- ducted him to the door of the church and set him in the direction of home. The father contented himself next morning with expressing his assurance that, whatever John might be fit for in after life, he had no hope what- ever that he would become a minister of the Church. A more pleasing memory was that of the solemn ad- ministration of the Lord's Supper. In the procession of the elders the child was specially interested in an old man with very white hair and a meek, reverent face.
Some time after he was walking on the road and passed a man breaking stones. The white hair caught his attention, and he looked back and recognised the elder who had carried the cup. Full of curiosity and wonder, he told his father the strange tale.
It was at one of the Blairgowrie farms that Watson made acquaintance with Spurgeon's sermons, as he has related in one of his happiest sketches. He tells how the farmer was instructed by his good wife to bring home from the market town the tea and sugar, the paraffin oil, and other necessities of life. As the provident woman had written every requirement except the oil, which was obtained at the ironmonger's, and the Spur- geon, which was sold at the draper's on a sheet of paper, and pinned it on the topmost cabbage leaf which covered the butter, the risk was not great; but that week the discriminating prophecy of the good man's capabilities seemed to be justified, for the oil was there, but Spurgeon could not be found.
It was not in the bot- tom of the dogcart, nor below the cushion, nor attached to a piece of saddlery, nor even in the good man's trou- ser pocket all familiar resting-places and when it was at last extricated from the inner pocket of his topcoat EARLY DAYS 21 a garment with which he had no intimate acquaint- ance he received no credit, for it was pointed out with force that to have purchased the sermon and then to have mislaid it, was worse than forgetting it altogether. When Sabbath came the lads from the bothie were brought into the kitchen and entertained to tea.
Then afterwards the master of the house read a sermon by Spurgeon. On that particu- lar evening the little gathering was held in the loft be- cause it was harvest time, and extra men were working. It was laid on the boy as an honour to read Manasseh.
"Ian Maclaren" Life of the Rev. John Watson
Whether the sermon is called by this name I do not know, and whether it be one of the greatest of Mr. Spur- geon's I do not know, nor have I a copy of it; but it was mighty unto salvation in that loft, and I make no doubt that good grain was garnered unto eternity. There is a passage in it when, after the mercy of God has rested on this chief sinner, an angel flies through the length and breadth of Heaven crying " Manasseh is saved, Manasseh is saved.
You know, because you have been told, how insensible and careless is a schoolboy, how destitute of all sentiment and emotion. You know how dull and stupid is a plough- man, because you have been told. It will be seen that Watson was brought up under powerful evangelical influences, and there can be no doubt that they touched him to the core of his heart. But it is right to say that his mother was of a broader school. He wrote himself in : " My mother, I be- lieve, would have gladly seen me a minister of the Es- tablished Church.
She was a Moderate in theology, and had a rooted dislike to amateur preachers and all their ways, believing that if you employed a qualified physi- cian rather than a quack for your body, you had better have a qualified clergyman rather than a layman for your soul. From her I received the main principles of my religious thinking. She taught me that all doctrine must be tried by human experience, and that if it was not proved by our reason and conscience, it was not true ; and especially I learned from her to believe in the Fa- therhood of God, and to argue from the human home to the divine family.
She always insisted that as we were all the children of one Father, He would make the best of us, both in this world and that T vhich is to come. This, however, was the theology of the Moderate school, and not of the Free Church. While I greatly honoured the leading Free Church minister of my country days, both as a religious man and a friend of the family, I felt much more at home with the parish minister, who in his courtesy of man- ner, his practical interest in the parish, his reasonable preaching, and avoidance of all extravagance, seemed to me the ideal representative of the Galilean faith.
Be- sides, I believed in an Established Church, and even then, although I had not given my mind much to such ques- tions, was convinced that the alliance of the Church with the State was not only a good thing for the State, but also a good thing for the Church, saving her from sec- tarianism and bigotry. I used to resent the denuncia- tion from Free Church pulpits of sport, walking on Sundays, amusements, and the reading of fiction, and I remember being very disgusted with an evangelist who was much petted, and who asked impertinent questions, and who suddenly disappeared.
One of his early heroes was a " Moderate " minister, the Rev. Barty, of Bendochy, who was Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Barty was the original of Watson's favourite character, Dr. Barty of Bendochy. He was the father of the parish. His very appearance carried author- ity and kindliness with it. He saw him standing in the pul- pit on the Sacrament day, moving about the parish speak- ing with the farmers, and wherever he went always a Chris- tian gentleman, bringing to bear the principles of our reli- gion on daily life in a kindly and wise fashion. Long might Scotland have ministers in their parishes like Dr.
Barty, and long might the country districts rear men such as Strathmore had reared! I attribute the comparative lateness with which he attained his full intellectual stature to the fact that his mind was disquieted in his youth. All this may be premature, but I do not think it is. When Watson was twelve his father was promoted to Stirling, and his association with the town is of peculiar interest. No influence in his life was stronger. Watson was one of the warmest of friends, but he was discriminating, and he very rarely spoke of any one with extravagant praise, though of all with kindness.
But he would admit no flaw in Henry Drummond. After Drummond's death he wrote his memory of their first meeting: The sun was going down behind Ben Lomond, in the happy summer time, touching with gold the gray old castle, deepening the green upon the belt of trees which fringed the eastern side of the park, and filling the park itself with EARLY DAYS 25 soft, mellow light.
A cricket match between two schools had been going on all day, and was coming to an end, and I had gone out to see the result being a new arrival in Stirling, and full of curiosity. The two lads at the wickets were in striking contrast one heavy, stockish, and deter- mined, who slogged powerfully and had scored well for his side; the other nimble, alert, graceful, who had a pretty but uncertain play. The slogger was forcing the running in order to make up a heavy leeway, and compelled his partner to run once too often. Against that group of clumsy, unformed, awkward Scots lads, this bright, straight, living figure stood in relief, and as he moved about the field my eyes followed him, and in my boyish and dull mind I had a sense that he was a type by himself, a visitor of finer breed than those among whom he moved.
By and by he mounted a friend's pony and galloped along the racecourse in the park till one only saw a speck of white in the sunlight, and still I watched in wonder and fascination only a boy of thirteen or so, and dull till he came back, in time to cheer the slogger who had pulled off the match with three runs to spare and carried his bat.
It was the lad's distinction, an inherent quality of appearance and manner of character and soul which marked him and made him solitary. What happened with one strange lad that evening befell all kinds of people who met Drummond in later years. They were at once arrested, interested, fascinated by the very sight of the man, and could not take their eyes off him.
Like a picture of the first order among ordinary portraits, he unconsciously put his neighbours at a disadvantage. One did not realise how commonplace and colourless other men were till they stood side by side with Drummond. Upon a platform of evangelists, or sitting among divinity stu- dents in a dingy classroom, or cabined in the wooden re- spectability of an ecclesiastical court, or standing in a crowd of passengers at a railway station, he suggested golden embroidery upon hodden gray.
It was as if the prince of one's imagination had dropped in among common folk. He reduced us all to peasantry. Watson in later life used to say that Drummond was the most vital man he had ever known ; that his eyes had a power and hold which were little less than irresistible, and almost supernatural; that when he preached, his words fell one by one with an indescribable awe and so- lemnity, in the style of the Gospels, and reached the se- cret place of the soul.
He acknowledged that, in spite of Drummond' s sense of humour and sweetness of nature, there was about him a curious aloofness and separate- ness from human life. He seemed to be master of him- self and passionless. Though he would help any one in trouble to his last resource, he neither asked nor wished for aid from others.
He belonged by nature to the pre-theological age. Christ was his unseen Friend with Whom he walked in life, by Whose fellowship he was changed, to Whom he prayed. The man was greater than all his books, and while competent in science was a master in religion. One takes for granted that each man has his besetting sin, and we could name that of our friends, but Drummond was an exception to this rule. After a lifetime's intimacy I do not remember my friend's failing. Without pride, without envy, without selfishness, without vanity, moved only by goodwill and spiritual ambitions, responsive ever to the touch of God and every noble impulse, faithful, fearless, magnani- mous, Henry Drummond was the most perfect Christian I have ever known or expect to see this side the grave.
Even from Central Africa a letter arrived one day after months of travel by negro couriers and with many adventures. Watson said: One recollection of that school has been to me a great inspiration, and I refer to the life and character and work of my distinguished schoolfellow, William Durham. George MacNaughton, of whom I have heard to-night, and myself fought hard for the second place, none of us had the impudence to try to have the first place. That belonged absolutely, with a wide gulf between, to William Durham, and we were willing to give him the place, not only on account of his conspicuous ability, but also on account of his excellent disposition.
He was an honour to the High School then, and an honour to the school afterwards in Edinburgh; and more than that he was a sanctifying and Christian influence upon all who knew him. He was taken away at the age of twenty-one, and was buried in the cemetery at St. There is a monument raised to him, but his memory remains with all the pupils as one standing out from our schooldays, one of the noblest and most impressive figures, and I do not deny, but am rather anxious to confess, that he inspired the character of George Howe in The Bonnie Brier Bush. He went on to speak of the beautiful churchyard in Stirling, " which is one of the most beautiful things in this place, and surely nowhere is there a' ' God's acre ' which stands higher, nearer the sky, and nowhere one on which the sun shines more constantly.
There lies the mortal dust of one of my dearest friends, and one of the brightest intellects given to the Church in our time, and one of the holiest lives given to the generation. If I would venture to give any advice to the young men in this excellent institution it would be to keep be- fore them such lives as those of my schoolfellow, William Durham, known to some who are present here not per- haps quite young any more than myself ; and the life of Henry Drummond, known to all of you, a brave soldier EARLY DAYS 29 of the Cross, a good knight of God, and a pure and saintly man from his first days to the end.
Drummond, Profes- sor Drummond's brother: My recollection of John Watson as a schoolboy is that of one of rather slender build, with pale, refined features. In manner he was more sedate than most boys; but he had a hearty laugh, and was always delightful company. Even then he had a keen sense of humour; and sometimes it was difficult to know whether he was talking seriously or in jest.
In his case the boy was more the father of the man than in that of most people. To the last he retained an interest in his old schoolfellows; and always inquired for them when opportunity permitted. In his time the organ- ised games connected with the High School of Stirling were limited to cricket, for which two elevens were with diffi- culty forthcoming; and I do not remember that he often joined in them. He occasionally played golf with his father or another of the half dozen men who were then the only votaries of the game in the King's Park of Stirling.
He was frequently to be seen walking with his father and mother, the former a dignified gentleman with a face which to a boy seemed somewhat sad, but with great kindliness of manner; the latter the essence of good nature; and both closely attached to their only child. I often used to hear my aunt speak of John when he was a little fellow ; she was very fond of him, and as a child he was not at all strong, and often lived with her for months at a time at Drumlochy, as the doctors wished John to be in the country as much as possible.
He was rather a precocious child, and one story I re- member aunt used to laugh at, and told how she and his mother were crossing a field one day where there were some cattle. Aunt had remarked somewhat strongly to her sister regarding them, and John hearing this ran up to his mother and said: " Isn't Aunt Jane a naughty girl to use words like that? When I remember him first he was tall and thin, in fact very thin and pale, and not at all strong-looking.
At that time and from then onwards Professor Henry Drummond and he were great friends, and the latter used to come to John's house a great deal. John was always full of humour and tricks. He got me into disgrace with his mother when I was a small child, for asking me to open my mouth and shut my eyes, when he popped an almond sweet into my mouth, which had been previously broken, the interior taken out, the almond filled with mustard, and all put neatly together again.
My screams alarmed the house, and there was considerable trouble for John. My uncle had an estate called the Grange, where John and I often spent our holidays together. He used to ride a beautiful cream pony given to him by his father, and uncle used to keep it all winter for him. John was a great favourite always wherever he went. When in the country with his uncle he used to go and chat with the ploughmen, enjoy their talk, and seemed to study all their ways. Uncle had an old grieve who had been with him for years, and sometimes took a " drappy " too much.
Peter was his name, and John said a chat with Peter after one of those outbreaks was very amusing. He used to come in and relate the story to aunt while he was doubled up with laughter. I feel sure he gathered a great lot of his matter for The Bonnie Brier Bush from those people, although I am sure at that time he never dreamt of writing. In Stirling the Watsons attended the ministry of the Rev. Alexander Beith, a pre-Disruption minister of vigorous intellect and character, who in later life strongly defended the orthodoxy of Robertson Smith. Watson said: I shall always remember here is the church where I wor- shipped with my people, and the figure of Dr.
Beith, mov- ing through this town with a certain dignity which I think we of the younger generation of clergy have not been able always to sustain, and preaching in the pulpit with a note of authority which the pulpit now very seldom has, always fills up a page in my memory. He was a type of the cler- gyman of the past in all his ways, and left a deep im- pression on the generation following. His father, who had been pro- moted to the highest place in his profession, had re- moved to Edinburgh, and lived in the Grange.
He at- tached himself to the Grange Free Church, and became an elder there under the ministry of Dr. Horatius Bonar. Bonar, who is best known as a hymn-writer, had been an intimate friend of M'Cheyne, and was ulti- mately the biographer of Milne of Perth, the minister of Watson's boyhood. Thus the evangelistic influences of which I have spoken continued to play upon him. But he had very little to say in after life about Dr. Bonar, save that there was a strong element of mysti- cism in his teaching. Few famous men have owed so little to the University as John Watson.
He flowered late, and it is my belief that his force and passion were partly checked by the silent conflict in his heart. For an account of his career in Edinburgh University I am largely indebted to Dr. Ross, who was perhaps his most intimate friend during the four years of the curriculum. The lectures were exceedingly helpful to students. They were permeated with a fund of homely common sense. There was only one moment in the whole course when the placid waters were even temporarily ruffled. The English and Scotch clergy smoke much more than do the American clergy, especially the New England clergy.
It is a very common experience to meet clergymen in England with pipes in their mouths. Watson was probably not aware of the prejudice which exists in New England against a minister smoking. So, very innocently, in the course of one of his lectures, when he was talking about the minister getting close to men, he happened to say something to the effect that often peculiarly intimate closeness came when the minister and some man of his congregation were smoking their pipes together, and that a good pipe was not a bad thing in establishing confidences.
It brought down a storm upon his head. The lectures are on the whole among the most valuable ever delivered at Yale, and they are worthy the careful study of every clergyman. The lectures were strewn with parenthetical remarks. On the whole, it may also be better for the average man, for the sake of his people, not to go to the Holy Land, unless he has great self-control. His personal experiences will make even the Mount of Olives a terror, and his interpolated explanation, from. Some congregations who in the kindness of their hearts sent their ministers to the Holy Land would now cheerfully pay twice the cost to obliterate the journey from the memory of the good man, and to rescue, say the fifteenth of St.
Luke, from illustrative anecdotes. One wants his drinking-water taken through a filter-bed, but greatly objects to gravel in his glass. Invalid ministers have a certain use and do gather sympathetic congregations—becoming a kind of infirmary chaplains. But their ecclesiastical and theological views must be taken with great caution. He was very effective in these talks to young men. There were three or four homes in New Haven that seemed peculiarly attractive to him and he would often drop in for an evening, and was frequently the guest at dinners there.
To sit before an open fire with him was a rare experience. In these homes to which I refer, there would often be a group of three or four men whose names were known among educated people in all Europe and America. The conversation was such as one would expect. Often Dr. Watson would sit silent for fifteen or twenty minutes listening to these men.
Then, by some sudden turn, he would take up the talk and for several minutes we would hear some of the raciest comments on life. But when the story-telling was at its height then he shone above all others. Some one would ask him a question about Scottish country life and off he would go. No one could surpass him as a storyteller and I have seen staid, aged scholars laugh until tears rolled down their cheeks. I was assistant to Dr. Munger at the time of Dr. I doubt if I shall ever hear such story-telling again. But once or twice I saw him in very melancholy mood.
These moods came over him and nothing could move him out of them except solitude or preaching. He had much of the Celtic temperament, as is very apparent to those who know his writings.