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ally ; and let us bless the name and the labors and the
genius of Thomas Guthrie ! It is a sad thing to see the
toys of such little childr(!n as I can think of. What



CONCEENING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD. 265

curious things lliey are able to seek amusement in ! I
have known a brass button at the end of a string a much
prized possession. I have seen a grave little boy stand-
ing by a broken chair in a bare garret, solemnly arrang-
ing and rearranging two pins upon tlie broken chair. A
machine much employed by poor children in country-
places is a slate tied to a bit of string: this, being drawn
along the road, constitutes a cart; and you may find it
attended by the admiration of the entire young popu-
lation of three or four cottages standing in the moorland
miles from any neighbor.

You will not unfrequently find parents who, if they
cannot keep back their children fiom some little treat,
will try to infuse a sling into it, so as to prevent the chil-
dren from enjoying it. They will impress on their chil-
dren that ihey must be very wicked to care so much
about going out to some children's party ; or they will
insist that their children should return home at some pre^
posterously early hour, so as to lose the best part of the
fun, and so as to appear ridiculous in the eyes of their
young companions. You will find this amiable tendency
in people intrusted with the care of older children. I
have heard of a man wliose nepiiew lived with him, and
lived a very cheerless life. When the season came round
at which the lad hoped to be allowed to go and visit his
parents, he ventured, after much hesitation, to hint this
to his uncle. Of course the uncle felt that it was quite
right the lad should go, but he grirdged him the chance
of the little enjoyment, and the happy thought struck him
that he might let the lad go, and at ihe same time make
the poor fellow uncomfortable in going. Accordingly he
conveyed his permission to the lad to go by roaring out



266 CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD

in a savage manner, " Begone ! " This made the poor
lad feel as if it were his duty to stay, and as if it were
very wicked in him to wish to go ; and though he ulti-
mately went, he enjoyed his visit with only half a heart.
There are parents and guardians who take great paiiis
to make their children think themselves very bad, — • to
make the little things grow up in the endurance of the
pangs of a bad conscience. For conscience, in children,
is a quite artificial thing: you may dictate to it what it is
to say. And parents, often injudicious, sometimes malig-
nant, not seldom apply hard names to their children,
which sink down into the little heart and memory far
more deeply than they think. If a child cannot eat fat,
you may instil into him that it is because he is so wicked ;
and he will believe you for a while. A favorite weapon
in the hands of some parents, who have devoted them-
selves diligently to making their children miserable, is to
frequently predict to the children the remorse which they
(the children) will feel after they (the parents) are dead.
In such cases, it would be difficult to specify the precise
things which the children are to feel remorseful about.
It must just be, generally, because they were so wicked,
and because they did not sufficiently believe the infalli-
bility and impeccability of their ancestors. I am re-
minded of the woman mentioned by Sam Weller, whose
husband disappeared. The woman had been a fearful
termagant ; the husband, a very inoffensive man. After
his disappearance, the woman issued an advertisement,
assuring him, that, if he returned, he would be fully for-
given ; which, as Mr. AVeller justly remarked, was very
generous, seeing he had never done anything at all.

Yes, the conscience of children is an artificial and a
sensitive thing. The other day, a friend of mine, who is



CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD. 267

one of llie kindest of parents and the most amiable of
men, told me what happened in his house on a certain
Fast-day. A Scotch Fast-day, you may remember, is
the institution which so completely puzzled Mr. Buckle.
That historian fancied that to fast means in Scotland to
abstain from food. Had Mr. Buckle known anylhing
whatever about Scotland, he would have known that a
Scotch Fast-day means a week-day on which people go
to church, but on which (especially in the dwellings of
the clergy) there is a better dinner than usual. I never
knew man or woman in all my life who on a Fast-day
refrained from eating. And quite right, too. The growth
of common sense has gradually abolished literal fasting.
In a warm Oriental climate, abstinence from food may
give the mind the preeminence over the body, and so
leave the mind better titted for religious duties. In our
country, literal fasting would have just the contrary ef-
fect: it would give the body the mastery over the soul;
it would make a man so physically uncomfortable that he
could not attend with protit to his religious duties at all.
I am aware, Anglican reader, of the defects of my coun-
ti'ymen ; but commend me to the average Scotchman for
sound practical sense. But to return. These Fast-days
are by many people observed as rigorously as the Scotch
Sunday. On the forenoon of such a day, my friend's
little child, three years old, came to him in much distress.
She said, as one who had a fearful sin to confess, " I have
been playing with my toys this morning;" and then be-
gan to cry as if her little heart would break. I know
some stupid parents who would have strongly encour-
aged this needless sensitiveness ; and who would thus
have made their child unhappy at the time, and prepared
the way for an indignant bursting of these artiticial tram-



268 CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD.

mels when the child had grown up to maturity. But my
friend was not of that stamp. He comforted the little
thing, and told her, that, though it might be as well not
to [ilay with her toys on a Fast-day, what she had done
was nothing to cry about. I think, my reader, that, even
if you were a Scotch minister, you would appear with
considerable confidence before your Judge, if you had
never done worse than failed to observe a Scotch Fast-
day with the Covenanting austerity.

But when one looks back and looks round and tries to
reckon up the sorrows of childhood arising from parental
folly, one feels that the task is endless. There are parents
who will not suffer their children to go to the little feasts
which children occasionally have, either on that wicked
principle that all enjoyment is sinful, or because the chil-
dren have recently committed some small offence, which is
to be thus punished. There are parents who take pleas-
ure in informing strangers, in their children's presence,
about their children's faults, to the extreme bitterness of
the children's hearts. There are parents who will not
allow their children to be taught dancing, regarding danc-
ing as sinful. The result is, that the children are awkward
and unlike other children ; and when they are suft'ered to
gpend an evening among a number of companions who
have all learned dancing, they suffer a keen mortification
which older people ought to be able to understand. Then
you will find parents, possessing ample means, who will
not dress their children like others, but send them out iu
very shabby garments. Few things cause a more painful
sense of humiliation to a child. It is a sad sight to see a
little fellow hiding round the corner when some one passes
who is likely to recognize him, afraid to go through the



CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD. 269

decent streets, and creeping out of sight by back-ways.
We have all seen that. AVe have all sympathized heartily
with the reduced widow who has it not in her power to
dress her boy better ; and we have all felt lively indigna-
tion at the parents who had the power to attire their chil-
dren becomingly, but whose heartless parsimony made the
little things go about under a constant sense of painful
degradation.

An extremely wicked way of punishing children is by
shutting them up in a dark place. Dai'kness is naturally
fearful to human beings, and the stupid ghost-stories of
many nurses make it especially fearful to a child. It is
a stupid and wicked thing to send a child on an errand in
a dark night. I do not remember passing through a
gi'eater trial in my youth than once walking three miles
alone (it was not going on an errand) in the dark, along
a road thickly shaded with trees. I was a little fellow ;
but I got over the distance in half an hour. Part of the
way was along the wall of a church-yard, one of those
ghastly, weedy, neglected, accursed-looking spots where
stupidity has done what it can to add circumstances of
disgust and horror to the Christian's long sleep. Nobody
ever supposed that this walk was a trial to a boy of twelve
years old : so little are the thoughts of children under-
stood. And children are reticent : I am telling now about
that dismal walk for the very first time. And in the ill-
nesses of childhood, children sometimes get very close
and real views of death. I remember, when I was nine
years old, how every evening, when I lay down to sleep,
1 used for about a year to picture myself lying dead, till
I felt as though the coffin were closing round me. I used
ft) read at that period, with a curious feeling of fascina-
ivm, Blair's poem, "The Grave." But I never dreamed



270 CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD.

of tolling anybody about these thoughts. I believe that
thoughtful children keep most of their thoughts to them-
selves, and in respect of the things of which they think
most are as profoundly alone as the Ancient Mariner in
the Pacific. I have heard of a parent, an important mem-
ber of a very strait sect of the Pharisees, whose child,
when dying, begged to be buried not in a certain foul old
hideous church-yard, but in a certain cheerful cemetery.
This request the poor little creature made with all the
energy of terror and despair. But the strait Pharisee
refused the dying request, and pointed out, with polemi-
cal bitterness, to the child, that he must be very wncked
indeed to care at such a time where he was to be buried,
or what might be done with his body after death. How
I should enjoy the spectacle of that unnatural, heartless,
stupid wretch tarred and feathered ! The dying child
was caring for a thing about which Shakespeare cared ;
and it was not in mere human weakness, but " by faith,"
that " Joseph, when he was a-dying, gave commandment
concerning his bones."

I believe that real depression of spirits, usually the sad
heritage of after-years, is often felt in very early youth.
It sometimes comes of the child's belief that he must be
very bad, because he is so frequently told that he is so.
It sometimes comes of the child's fears, early felt, as to
what is to become of him. His parents, possibly, with
the good sense and kind feeling which distinguish various
parents, have taken pains to drive it into the child, that,
if his father should die, he will certainly starve, and may
very probably have to become a wandering beggar. And
these sayings have sunk deep into the little heart. I re-
member how a friend told me that his constant wonder,
when he was twelve or thirteen years old, was this : If



CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD. 271

life was such a burden already, and so miserable to look
back upon, how could he ever bear it when he had grown
older ?

But now, my reader, I am going to stop. I have a
great deal more marked down to say, but the subject is
growing so thoroughly distressing to me, as I go on, that
I shall go on no farther. It would make me sour and
wretched for the next week, if I were to state and illus-
trate the varied sorrows of childhood of which I intended
yet to speak : and if I were to talk out my heart to you
about the people who cause these, I fear my character for
good-nature would be gone wdtli you for ever. " This
genial writer," as the newspapers call me, would show but
little geniality : I am aware, indeed, that I have already
been writing in a style which, to say the least, is snap-
pish. So I shall say nothing of the first death that comes
in the family in our childish days, — its hurry, its confu-
sion, its awe-struck mystery, its wonderfully vivid recall-
ing of the words and looks of the dead ; nor of the terri-
ble trial to a little child of being sent away from home to
school, — the heart-sickness and the weary counting of
the weeks and days before the time of returning home
again. But let me say to every reader who has it in his
power directly or indirectly to do so, Oh, do what you can
to make children happy ! oh, seek to give that great en-
during blessing of a happy youth ! Whatever after-life
may prove, let there be something bright to look back
upon in the horizon of their early time ! You may sour
the human spirit forever, by cruelty and injustice in youth.
There is a past suffering which exalts and purifies ; but
this leaves only an evil result : it darkens all the world,
and all our views of it. Let us try to make every little



272 CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD.

child happy. The most selfish parent might fry to please
a little child, if it were only to see the fresh expression
of unblunted feeling, and a Hveliness of pleasurable emo-
tion which in after-years we shall never know. I do not
believe a great English barrister is so happy when he has
the Great Seal committed to him as two little and rather
ragged urchins whom I saw this very afternoon. I was
walking along a country-road, and overtook them. They
were about five years old. I walked slowei*, and talked
to them for a few minutes, and found that they were good
boys, and went to school every day. Then I produced
two coins of the copper coinage of Britain : one a large
penny of ancient days, another a small penny of the pres-
ent age. " There is a penny for each of you," I said,
with some solemnity : '' one is large, you see, and the
other small ; but they are each worth exactly the same.
Go and get something good." I wisli you had seen them
gooff! It is a cheap and easy thing to make a little
heart happy. May this hand never write another essay
if it ever wilfully miss the chance of doing so ! It is all
quite right in after-years to be careworn and sad. We
understand these matters ourselves. Let others bear the
burden which we ourselves bear, and which is doubtless
good for us. But the poor little things ! I can enter in-
to the feeling of a kind-hearted man who told me that
he never could look at a number of little children but the
tears came into his eyes. How much these young crea-
tures have to bear yet ! I think you can, as you look at
them, in some degree understand and sympathize with
the Redeemer, who, when he " saw a great multitude,
was moved with compassion toward them ! " Ah, you
smooth little face, (you may think,) I know what
years will make of you, if they find you in this world !



CONCERNING THE SORROWS OF CHILDHOOD. 273

And you, light little heart, will know your weight of
care !

And I remember, as I write these concluding lines,
who they were that the Best and Kindest this world ever
saw liked to have near Him ; and what the reason was
He gave why He felt most in His element when they
were by His side. He wished to have little children
round Him, and w^ould not have them chidden away ;
and this because there was something about them that
reminded Him of the Place from which He came. He
liked the little faces and the little voices, — He to whom
the wisest are in understanding as children. And often-
times, I believe, these little ones still do His work.
Oftentimes, I believe, when the worn man is led to Him
in childlike confidence, it is by the hand of a little child.



18



CHAPTER X.



THE ORGAN QUESTION IN SCOTLAND.i




gEPUBLTCANS are born, not made," says
2;^^ the lively author of Kaloolah ; and so, we
have long held, are true-blue Presbyte-
J^^S^c<3) rians. A certain preponderance of the
sterner elements, a certain lack of capacity of emotion,
• and disregard of the influence of associations, — in brief,
a certain hardness of character to be found only in
Scotland, is needed to make your out-and-out follower
of John Knox. The great mass of the educated mem-
bers of the Church of Scotland have no pretension to
the name of true-blue Presbyterians : Balfour of Bur-
ley would have scouted them ; under the insidious in-
fluence of greater enlightenment and more rapid com-
munication, they have in many respects approximated
sadly to " black prelacy." Dr. Candlish's book reminds
us that out-and-out Presbyterians are still to be found
in the northern part of this island. In arguing with
such, we feel a peculiar difficulty. We have no ground
in common. Things which appear to us as self-evi-
dent axioms, they flatly deny. For instance, it appears



1 The Organ Question: Statements hi/ Dr. Ritchie and Dr. Porteom
for ami against the use of the Organ in Public Worship, in the Proceed-
ings of the Presbytery of Glasgow, 1807-8. With an introductory No-
tice, by Robert S. Candlish, D.D. Edinburgh. 185G.



THE ORGAN QUESTION IN SCOTLAND. 275

to us just as plain as that two and two make four, that a
church should be something essentially different in ap-
pearance from an ordinary dwelling ; that there is a pecu-
liar sanctity about the house of God ; that if it be fit to
pay some respect to the birthday of the Queen, it cannot
be wrong to pay a greater to the birthday of the Re-
deemer ; that the worship of God should be made as
solemn in itself as possible, and as likely as possible to
impress the hearts of the worshippers ; that if music is
employed in the worship of God, it should be the best
music to be had ; and that if there be a noble instrument
especially adapted to the performance of sacred music,
with something in its very tones that awes the heart and
wakens devotional feeling, that is beyond all question
the instrument to have in our churches. Now all this the
true-blue Presbyterian at once denies. He holds that all
that is required of a church is protection from the weather,
with seat-room, and, perhaps, ventilation ; he denies that
any solemnized feeling is produced by noble architecture,
or that the Gothic vault is fitter for a church than for a
factory ; he walks into church with his hat on to show he
does not care for bricks and mortar ; he taboos Christ-
mas-day, with all its gentle and gracious remembrances ;
be maintains that the barest of all worship is likeliest to
be true spiritual service ; he holds that there is some-
thing essentially evil and sinful in the use of an organ in
church ; that the organ is " a portion of the trumpery which
ignorance and superstition had foisted into the house of
God ; " that to introduce one is to " convert a church into
a concert-room," and " to return back to Judaism ; " and
that " the use of instrumental music in the worship of
God is neither lawful, nor expedient, nor edifying." ^
1 The Organ Question, pp. 108, 125, 128, &c.



276 THE ORGAN QUESTION IN SCOTLAND.

We confess that we do not know how to argue with
men who honestly hold these views. The things which
they deny appear to us so perfectly plain already, that no
argument can make them plainer. If any man say to us,
"I don't feel in the least solemnized by the noble cathe-
dral and the pealing anthem," all we can reply is simply,
" Then you are different from human beings in general ;"
but it is useless to argue with him. If you argue a thesis
at all, you can argue it only from things less liable to dis-
pute than itself; and in the case of all these matters
attached to Presbytcrj^ though not forming part of its
essence, this is impossible. Whenever we have had an
argument with an old impracticable Presbyterian, we
have left off with the feeling that some people are bom
Presbyterians ; and if so, there is no use in talking to
them.

But all these notions to which allusion has been made,
are attached to Presbytery by vulgar prejudice ; they
form no part of its essence, and enlightened Presbyte-
rians now-a-days are perfectly aware of the fact. There
is no earthly connection in the nature of things between
Presbyterian Church-government and flat-roofed meeting-
houses, the abolition of the seasons of the Christian year,
a bare and bald ritual, a vile " precentor" howling out of
all tune, and a congregation joining as musically as the
frogs in Aristophanes. The educated classes in Scotland
have for the most part come to see this, and in Edinburgh
and Glasgow, even among the Dissenters, we find church-
like places of worship, decent singing, and the entire ser-
vice conducted with propriety. And one of the marked
signs of vanishing prejudice is, that a general wish is
springing up for the introduction of that noble instru-
ment, so adapted to church-music, the organ. Things



THE ORGAN QUESTION IN SCOTLAND. 277

have even gone so far that the }3rincipal ecclesiastical
court of a considerable Scotch dissenting denomination,
has left it to be decided by each congregation for itself,
whether it will have an organ or not. And several dis-
senting ministers of respectable standing and undoubted
,Presbyterianism, are pushing the matter strongly.
"j We should have fancied that men of sense in North
'Britain would have been pleased to find that there is a
prospect of the organ being generally introduced : and
:this upon the broad ground that church-music would thus
be made more solemn, more worthy of God's worship,
more likely to awaken devotional feeling. We should
have fancied that there was no need for special pleading
on the part of the advocates of the organ, and assuredly
no room for lengthened argument on the part of its oppo-
nents. The entire argument, we think, may be summed
up thus : Whatever makes church-music more solemn
and solemnizing is good ; the organ does this : therefore,
let us have the organ. If a man denies our first proposi-
tion, he is a person who cannot be reasoned with. If he
denies the second, he has no musical taste. If he admits
both, yet denies the conclusion, then he is either preju-
diced or yielding to prejudice. And so the discussion
ends. And though we do not by any means hold that the
majority is necessarily right, still in this world we have,
after all, no further appeal than to the mass of educated
men, and they have decided " the organ question." We
believe that the Scotch Church and its offshoots are the
only Christian sects that taboo the organ.
L^ We should not have been surprised to find opposition
;lo the organ on the part of the unreasoning crowd, who
regard it as a rag of Popery, and whose hatred of every-
thing prelatical is quite wonderful. But it startles us to



278 THE ORGAN QUESTION IN SCOTLAND.

find reasonable and educated Scotchmen maintaining that
an organ is an idol, and that its use is not only inexpe-
dient, but absolutely sinful and forbidden. We have read
with considerable interest, and with great surprise, Dr.
Candlish's publication on The Organ Question, elicited,
by " the alarm he feels at certain recent movements on
behalf of instrumental music in Presbyterian worship."
(p. 5.) His part in it is confined to an introductory essays
reflecting little credit upon either his logic or his taste :
and instead of arguing the matter for himself, he prefers
to reproduce what he regards as a complete discussion of
the subject, in two documents, written nearly half a cen-
tury since. The circumstances under which these were
written are as follows : —

In the centre of a considerable square, opening out of
the Salt Market of Glasgow ( indissolubly associated with
the memory of Bailie Nicol Jarvie and Rob Roy), there
stands the elegant church of St. Andrew. It is &, facsim-
ile, on a much reduced scale, of St. Martin's-in-the-fields,
at Charing Cross. Fifty years since, Dr. Ritchie, the in-
cumbent of that church, in accordance with the wish of
his entire congregation, one of the most intelligent in
Scotland, introduced an organ. On Sunday, the 23d of
August, 1807, the sole organ which has been used since
the Reformation in any Scotch church in Scotland,^ was
used for the first and last time. Extreme horror was
excited among the ultra-Presbyterians. Dr. Ritchie was
forthwith pulled up by the Presbytery of Glasgow, and

1 Organs are not unfrequently found in Scotch churches out of Scot-
land. The Scotch churches maintained by the East India Company at



Online LibraryAndrew Kennedy Hutchison] [BoydLeisure hours in town → online text (page 20 of 33)