« VorigeDoorgaan »
son, on the part of the managers of the Gaelic chapels in Ingram-Street, DukeStreet, and Gorbals of Glasgow, who opposed them.
Mr. Cockburn observed, that the petitioners last year made their application to this House; and they were now to judge from those facts whether it would be proper
for the last forty years from the Highlands and Isles is absolutely incredible. Thousands and tens of thousands, until within the last few years, were totally uneducated, and ninety out of one hundred were unable to read the scriptures. I have in my possession at this very moment a letter from the collector of customs in a small port in the west end of the Island of Mull, in which he tells me, that during the last three years 4288 have entered in that port alone, and emigrated to our colonies in North America; and he adds, that being from some other of the more remote islands, they were unable to read either English or Gaelic, and unacquainted, he believed, to a great extent, with the nature and design of the Christian religion. And this emigration proceeds from no temporary causes; it proceeds from peculiar circumstances connected with the country, for which no remedy can be applied. To what quarter of the world, then, I would ask, can the friends of foreign missions direct their attention with so certain a prospect of promoting that great cause which they are labouring to advance, as to the Highlands and Isles of Scotland? Will not a few hundred pounds per annum expended in teaching these people to read their bibles before they leave the country, and instructing them in the elementary principles of Christianity, effect greater good than thousands spent in sending missionaries after them when they are scattered through those endless forests, where they have not a bible, nor the capacity of reading it? it will prove to them a moral wilderness, where all the better traits of their natural character will soon and for ever be obliterated.
Sir, I appeal to every person who hears me, whether a few such families whom you have taught to read the bible, and sent out with them this valuable light to comfort and guide them, will not prove a more valuable acquisition to that country, and have a more civilising influence in the districts to which they go, by spreading around them a moral and christianizing influence, than by any one missionary, however respectable, who, at ten times the expense, you could send afterwards to teach them.
But I come to my last observation. The wants of the Highlanders cannot fail to excite your sympathy upon higher grounds than those I have stated, when you view them as your brethren-part of your own flock-committed to your own charge, and whom you are called upon to feed. Far am I, Sir, from undervaluing the objects of the other overtures submitted this day to this venerable house; far am I from undervaluing what has been done, and what is doing for the inhabitants of foreign lands. The glory of Great Britain is in nothing so conspicuous, in this our happy day, as in her efforts to enlighten the whole world by the bright beams of the gospel. But I maintain that it is our paramount and imperative duty, as ministers and elders of the established church of our land, to make every effort that is in our power for giving to our flocks at home the benefits of religious and moral instruction. While we act our part in the magnificent cause of making distant lands joyful with the glad tidings of salvation, let us not overlook our children at home, remembering that they are our own blood,
VOL. XXIII. NO. VII.
withdrawn from other churches or chapels. Mr. Cleland, by whom the statistics of Glasgow had been better illustrated than those of any other city, Mr. Dewar, and Mr. Freeling, had made calculations of the number of Highlanders in Glasgow; and, after making every possible deduction, it must be allowed that the number amounts to at least 30,000. For this large portion of a large population there were only three chapels. He need not say more in support of the petition, the real question being, are three chapels sufficient? But he would state that such was the exuberant faith reposed by the petitioners in the justice of this House, that they had actually built their church at an expense of £4000. If thirsting for secession, they had now an opportunity of quenching their thirst; they had an audience, and they had a chapel ; and it would be allowed that the secession was a well which all might freely draw from.
(A laugh.) But such was the attachment of the petitioners to their mother church, that in patience and submission, they had waited for the sanction of this House; letting out their funds, and keeping in ill-humour. It was singular that none of those
to sanction and legislate for the new Gaelic chapel. No question ever came before that Assembly which more impressed him with a sense of its importance than the present. When he considered it with reference to the necessity of providing the amplest church accommodation to the inhabitants of large towns, and to the fond hereditary attachment of the people of Scotland towards the national Church, it would be insulting to the House to suppose that there could exist any difference of opinion among them upon this subject. There might be a few small things, some odds and ends, connected with this petition, which some might cavil about; but the great leading features, or what he might call the bones of the case, must be admitted on all sides. The original number of signatures to the petition was 2200; and out of these, after the strictest scrutiny, only 30 had been struck off. All the petitioners were unconnected with any other chapel, and unaccommodated with seats. Whether they might have had accommodation was a question which he would afterwards speak to. But what he had stated was necessary to show, that the present demand of the petitioners did not arise out of their having capriciously who usually object on such occasions ap
members of the same national family, brethren living and dying at our doors.
While you, therefore, Sir, go into the way of the Gentiles, and to the cities of the Samaritan, and in that work we say, God speed; and while to that work we will also give our support, we will still cry to you to look to the wandering sheep of your own Israel. Ever bearing in mind, that while Christianity has opened a wide field in which charity may range, there are in this field some peculiar spots in which we are commanded to take peculiar delight, and there are all such spots as I have been describing, such as are within the vale of your own church. The Highlanders have not yet refused your offer, and why turn to the by-paths? They have not spitefully treated your servants. Would, Sir, that you only knew the intensity of mind with which many of these poor people apply themselves to the reading of the word of life; would that you only heard how their gratitude has been kindled at times into praise; would, Sir, that I could only place before you the hoary Highlander standing in the same class with his almost infant grandchild; the pensioned veteran stemming, as I most solemnly declare to you I have seen him do, the mountain torrent, and with the only arm left in his country's cause, holding up the book of God, with which he was proceeding to school in all the docility of a child, and all the anxiety of a man who looked to his soul; and then sure am I neither your hand nor heart could be proof against its influence.
Sir, I make no motion. I leave my cause in the hands of the venerable assemby, with full confidence that they will do what is most befiting for alleviating those evils which we have now stated to them; and, in doing which, I fear that I have trespassed, in an unpardonable degree, on your indulgence, and on the patience of the house, for which I have only to crave your kind forgiveness.
peared to object in this instance. It was a fact, that the very clergyman of the parish was a most strenuous advocate for the measure; and many who last year had discountenanced it, had since given it their approbation. The parish contains 50,000 souls; it has only one parish church, and four chapels; the Presbytery, and all who had really an interest in the matter, had testified their sense of the expediency and necessity of an addition being made to that number;-and who were those who have appeared to oppose it? Two or three, or four leading members of other chapels out of the parish. What they said, or meant to say, was, "our seats will not let so well after another chapel has been erected; our stipends must of necessity fall off, and, in short, we want a monopoly of Gaelic preaching in the city of Glasgow." What they had always laboured to impress upon the minds of the petitioners was this, "our churches are empty, and since we and the other original proprietors attend so very ill ourselves, cannot you walk in and occupy our places ?" Was ever there heard so monstrous and unreasonable a proposition? There must be some reason for the empty condition of those churches, and a very good reason might be assigned. But supposing the petitioners were agreed to supply the lack of zeal in the present congregations of those chapels, still 1345 of their number (a good congregation of itself) would remain unprovided for. There was this other circumstance, that the northern Gaelic was used in those chapels, while the petitioners were conversant only with the western Gaelic. It might be said that it would be a very absurd thing to provide separate churches for all the dialects spoken in Scotland; and that it would be unreasonable to prefer the broad Scotch of Edinburgh to the more classical dialect of Glasgow.-(A laugh.) But sometimes a difference of dialect amounted to a difference of tongue; as, for example, the Yorkshire and Somersetshire differ so widely, that a native of the one county could not make use of, or even understand the language spoken in the other. And the fact was, that it was found extremely difficult to teach a west Highlander in northern Gaelic. He was aware there were many sensible men (he always excepted the present company) who had the misfortune to preach to empty benches.-(Great laughter.) There were many respectable clergymen who found themselves deserted by their people, while other churches were crowded; and who might keep open the door from one year to another before another hive would swarm into it. There was no preventing of this-people would form their own opinions of ministers, and
some men would rather abstain from public worship entirely than contaminate themselves by entering the church of a minister whom they disliked.-This was very capricious perhaps; but how absurd was the remedy here recommended! No more churches were to be built, because there were some which people do not choose to enter. He professed that he did not like this treating Christian men like cattle -this driving them into shambles, merely because they are empty. (Hear, hear.)— He would rather take advantage of the follies of men-to attach them to the Church, than by unreasonably crossing them, drive them into secession. He had often been surprised at the policy pursued by this House in applications of this nature. It was the policy of all associations, moral, political, or religious, of all wise men, in short, to gain as many converts to their cause as possible. But here, when a body apply to be connected with the Church by the most durable ties, praying for leave to be subjected to its autho rity and discipline, they are treated with a harshness of tone and supercilious disdain as if they were suing the generosity of the House for some mighty and unreasonable favour. He had even heard it said within these walls, that the people applying for leave to erect a Chapel of Ease were half dissenters in their hearts, than which there could not be a more cruel insult upon the people of Scotland, whose attachment to their national Church was passionate and prevalent. He concluded by most elo, quently calling upon the House to comply with the prayer of these poor people, his clients, who, from a devotion to the interests of the Church, had built a chapel out of their slender means, in the hope of no other earthly reward than the approbation of the Assembly; who had undergone all the fatiguing preparatives to obtaining that approbation, and who kept their zeal for the establishment alive in the midst of all sorts of difficulties and discouragements.
Mr. P. Robertson, for the Managers of the other Gaelic Chapels, denied the accuracy of the statements which had been made with regard to the Highland population of Glasgow. There was no evidence of the number of that population before the Assembly. In regard to the enquiry of the Presbytery of Glasgow into the genuineness of the signatures to the petition, he contended that they had been very easily satisfied on this point. There were already three Gaelic Chapels of Ease in Glasgow, and there existed no necessity for a fourth. These chapels could accommodate 3413 persons. Last year there were 963 seats unoccupied; and this year there
were 1381 seats unlet. So that within 700 of the whole number of the petitioners could be accommodated in the chapels already erected; and if they deducted from the gross number 752 servant girls, who might sit in other churches with their masters, they would find that there was no want of church accommodation for the Highland population of Glasgow. There were debts on these chapels amounting to 1.2000; and the managers were bound besides to pay salaries to their ministers. Their only means of doing so was from the revenue arising from the letting of the seats. The Assembly were bound to protect them in the constitution which they had granted. The consequence of their sanctioning the erection of another chapel would be the ruin of some of those already in existence. There were, he contended, not too few, but too many Gaelic chapels in Glasgow; and the plain fact was, if they established another solely to gratify the petitioners, the result would be the ruin of his clients. The necessity of erecting this chapel had been urged on account of the differences of dialect which existed among the Highlanders. This appeared to him to be a most extraordinary reason. The Assembly would not surely grant the erection of this chapel for the simple reason of gratifying the petitioners with the soft tones of the west, in place of the more rugged tones of the north. It was a fact of general notoriety, that many of the parishes in the west Highlands were supplied by ministers from the north. There were also many Gaelic ministers who had acquired the language from study; and although they had their dialects neither from the north nor the west, were yet emphatic preachers. He insisted that there was not a Highland population in Glasgow sufficient to fill another Gaelic chapel; and if the Assembly agreed to the erection of a new one, it must issue either in its fall, or on the ruin of one or other of those already established. It would be far better for the petitioners to prevent the erection of this chapel; since, in the course of time, some less popular preacher than the one they had now in view might reduce them to the same circumstances in which his clients were now placed. They were urged to this measure from the fear of the petitioners going over to the Seccssion; but they were bound to protect his clients in the constitution which they had given them, and the more particularly, as the number of seats unlet had increased from 963 to 1381. Were they to erect this new chapel, it was possible that in time some of the others might have a pastor with no flock; and the individuals who
had become bound for their stipend would have it to pay out of their own pocketsas, he was informed, had in one instance already been the case, where, but for the generosity of one individual, the pastor would have been without a stipend. He concluded by stating his conviction that the erection of this chapel would be the virtual suppression of one or other of those already
Mr. Cockburn, in reply, said it had been admitted on the other side, that the sittings in the Gaelic chapels were only sufficient for about 3000 people; and no man acquainted with Glasgow would say that that was accommodation for one-half of the Gaelic population of that city. He begged the Assembly to observe, that the petition before them was a new one with new signatures; and after these had been scrutinized by the Presbytery, only thirty had been found objectionable. The debt on the Duke Street chapel seemed the sole ground of objection to his clients' petition. That debt amounted to L.850, and a happy chapel it was that it had no more. The interest upon this debt corresponded to L.34 annually. Few concerns of the kind had so small a debt. The Gorbals chapel had withdrawn their opposition. The Ingram Street chapel had only eighty-four vacant sittings, and no debt whatever. The only debt, then, was that of Duke Street, which amounted to only L.34 of interest. If the Assembly wished to see this debt paid off, let them erect the new chapel. All the others were now dosing under the security of the old monopolists. Only let this one be erected, and if it did not infuse a new soul into the others he should be much surprised.
Dr. Gibb of Glasgow stated, that the Presbytery had recommended the erection of this new chapel, because it was their conviction that another place of worship was necessary. He defended the scrutiny made by the Presbytery into the signatures of the petitioners; it had been conducted with the greatest pains and anxiety, and had been only found inaccurate in a very few instances. He was himself at the time convinced that another chapel would be useful, and was still under the same conviction.
Mr. Thomson of Dundee said the Assembly ought to dismiss every allegation which was not substantiated by the papers on its table. The Presbytery of Glasgow had been unanimous in recommending the erection of another Chapel of Ease there, and he had never seen a case more completely investigated. He moved that they should grant the prayer of the petition, and
remit it to a committee to draw up regulations for the government of the chapel, according to the rules of the Church.
Dr. Inglis observed, that the general principle by which the Assembly was guid. ed in such cases as the present, was to grant the erection of chapels of ease whenever the necessity for them was fully made out, and to refuse them where this necessity was not shown; but they would not agree to such a measure to gratify the caprice of individuals, and denied that the necessity was made out in this case. He felt it necessary to move that the prayer of the petition be refused; at same time, if it should be made to appear that a chapel of an ordinary kind was wanted, he would cordially agree to its erection.
Mr. McLeod was also of opinion that a case was not made out for the petitioners.
Mr. Macfarlane of Polmont observed, that if there was no disposition to refuse chapels where necessary, he thought there never was a case more clearly made out than the present, and the Assembly would not certainly refuse it. He cordially seconded the motion of Mr. Thomson.
Dr. Nicol said, no other circumstances but necessity could justify these anomalous establishments; and, in the present case, he did not think that necessity appeared.
Mr. R. Thomson, advocate, spoke at considerable length in favour of the peti
Mr. Eisdale of Perth said, the Assembly must be aware that the chapel in Melville Street was already built; and if they refused to sanction it, the petitioners must either sell it to the dissenters, or become dissenters themselves.
Dr. Chalmers said, he would not enter into many of the fine and finical distinctions he had heard urged on this subject. What had been held in military, held also in intellectual tactics. It was bad policy to extend the line of defence too far. By so doing they only weakened it, and added to its vulnerable points. He was for the friends of the chapel keeping within their impregnable fortress, and not trusting to the trifling defence of outposts. He offered to give up every argument but one, which was the true basis of their plea, that if they erected the new chapel to-morrow, there would still be a great overplus of Highland population unprovided for. He was not furnished with any positive enumeration, but he could affirm, that within the limits of Glasgow there were numbers of Highland families who had no place of sitting in either church or chapel. There was, therefore, no want of material for crowding this and all the other chapels of Glasgow. Of these 2000 petitioners they
had found accommodation, in the other chapels, for 1300, and were disputing how the fractional difference could be disposed of. It was seldom they would witness so good a forthcoming population; and should they refuse to gratify them, they could anticipate nothing but their loss to the establishment; and what was more melancholy still, a great body, who might be kept together by their common attachment, were in danger of falling away from Sabbath observances altogether.
Dr. Mearns spoke against the petition. He would refuse it on the ground that there was sufficient accommodation for the petitioners in the other churches. If an application had been made for an additional English chapel, he would agree to it.
Dr. Cook was also for refusing the petition, because the necessity was not proved.
Mr. Moncreiff, advocate, defended, at some length, and with singular ability, the claims of the petitioners. He thought a case of imperious necessity was made out, and they should not hesitate one instant in granting the prayer of the petition.
Mr. M'Neil, advocate, was of the same opinion.
Dr. Gibb begged to remind the Assembly that this petition was laid before them last year; they had remitted it to the Presbytery to make certain inquiries, with the understanding that, if they gave a favourable report, the prayer would be granted. He therefore considered the Assembly pledged on this subject.
Dr. Nicol denied that any pledge was implied in the proceedings of last year.
Mr. Wigham supported the petition. The question was then put to the vote Grant or Refuse-when there appeared for Grant 99 Refuse 71
Majority -28 The Assembly then proceeded to the consideration of the petition and appeal of the Hon. Mrs. Hamilton of Bargany, and her presentee, against the sentence of the Presbytery of Stranraer, sustaining a presentation by Sir H. Dalrymple, in favour of Mr. Thomas Hill, to the church and parish of Ballantrae.
Mr. Robertson appeared for Mrs. Hamilton, and shortly contended, that, as the question of civil right between that lady and Sir H. H. Dalrymple was at present before the House of Lords, the Assembly ought to delay proceedings till it was settled.
Mr. Tawse, for Mrs. Hamilton's presentce, simply stated, that the rights of his client were bound up in those of the patron who gave the presentation, and must stand or fall by them.