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the suspicions so unjustly entertained, and heal
the divisions so unwarranted in their origin, so
disastrous in their effects ! It may surely be ad-
mitted that in accordance with the 34th Article,
the Scottish Episcopal Church may retain a na-
tional formulary without thereby infringing on the
true, essential unity of doctrine, provided for by
the reception of the whole Book of Common Prayer :
and however strongly it may be desired by very
many, that this single object of suspicion might be
removed, and thus every pretence of difference,
every plea for separation taken away, yet unques-

' Skinner's Annals, Appendix i. and ii.

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tionably we are bound to accord our belief to
the honesty of its supporters, when they deliber-
ately affix also their roluntary and solemnly
attested signature of adherence to the English

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Attee his participation in this very important
convention, there appears no particular incident
in Mr. Low's life for some years. He was engaged
in the ordinary duties of his small pastorate, and
enjoying the hospitalities and courtesies of his
neighbours. But the manner in which he fulfilled
those duties, is illustrated by the results which
manifest themselves so early as 1805.

From a document dated in that year, so worn
and tattered by its diligent circulation, as to be
only partially decipherable, I infer that the princi-
pal congregation of the two to which he ministered,
was that at Crail. The paper states that 'Hhe
Scotch Episcopal Service in Crail having been long
held in an unsuitable house, and that house being
now too small to contain the congregation as-

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sembling, the persons subscribing agreed to con-
tribute towards the erection of a chapel at Crail,
or in the neighbourhood." Amongst the names,
that of the Earl of Kellie stands first, for iiftj
guineas; those of the other neighbouring pro-
prietors for sums which are most of them torn off
by subsequent accident; and several churchmen
from a distance, including the Bishop of Salisbury,
contribute to the design. A still longer list occu-
pies the reverse side, of those who promise to pay
their quota only on condition of the chapel being
built at Anstruther or Pittenweem. This arrange-
ment was acceded to by Lord Kellie, and the
gentry to the east ; and the erection of the present
chapel at Pittenweem was accordingly soon after
commenced. That this advance was due mainly
to the exertions of the pastor, is evident from
correspondence connected with the subject: part
of a letter from Lord KeUie, dated 23rd of Jime,
1805, I quote, regretting that a portion of it
has been destroyed. Lady Kellie was in London
sufFering from ill-health, when Mr. Low's letter,
detailing his wishes and prospects regarding a
chapel, reached her. The Earl writes : —

" My dear Sir,

" I have the pleasure to inform you, that I
have now better accounts of your friend Lady
Kellie. In one of her letters she writes : * Mr.
Low's letter has given me great pleasure, and were
I able to write I should tell him so myself. I have

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also many agreeable things to say to him from all
now around me, and which I know to be sincere.'
In another of the 17th, she says : * Dr. Pitcaim has
this moment left me. I wish you could have seen
the expression of his face while he was reading Mr.
Low's letter : I could hardly stand it. At meet-
ing I shall say more on this and many other sub-
jects »»»*** several sketches of plans, which
he took with him, promising to consider upon
them. When you come here you must ride into
St. Andrews, to converse with, and spur on, Mr.
Balfour. I am on all occasions, my dear Sir,
" Yours most cordially,

" Kellie."

The project succeeded ; and the only thing to be
regretted, is, that at a time when the Church was
emerging from her difficulties, and it was justly
considered to be a great point gained to succeed in
erecting a chapel at all, the idea of ecclesiastical
propriety and fitness was either altogether lost
sight of, or architectural taste must have been at
the lowest ebb, since the sum that was expended on
the building might have sufficed, under due manage-
ment, to procure an edifice far more correct in
style, and appropriate in arrangement: while the
existing chapel is lamentably deficient in all the
features that ought to characterize an ecclesiastical
structure *. One important advantage, indeed, was

' In these respects, doubtless, it only shared in the general
tendencies of that day ; and it is satisfactory to know that

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gained : a site was obtained within the precincts of
the ancient priory of Pittenweem ; and thus, with
peculiar fitness, the association was maintained of
the dedication of that ^ot to sacred purposes.
This association was strengthened, a few years
subsequently, by Mr. Low obtaining a lease of
a portion of the conventual buildings still stand-
ing; which, by some little expenditure, was re-
stored to a habitable condition, and taken pos-
session of as his residence, — a residence which he
never relinquished — but where, for nearly half a
century, he remained, delighting in the idea of
the abode of the former priors being restored to
something like its original intention ; and exhibit-
ing, perhaps, in his retired and abstemious habits,
his unostentatious, self-denying simplicity, far more
of the unworldly, eremitic life, than had been cul-
tivated! by his ante-reformation predecessors.

In the summer of 1805 he made his first tour in
the Highlands, in company with his early friend Mr.
"Walker; and again in 1810 he accompanied the
Earl of Hardwicke on an extended tour through
those districts : in both which journeys he dili-
gently employed his observant faculties, not merely
making himself acquainted with the condition and
requirements of the Church in the west and north,

Scotland has so thoroughly partaken of the improved ecclesias-
tical taste of more recent times, that the episcopal churches
raised within these last ten years, if less elaborate in detail, are
generally as thoroughly correct and tasteful in design, as those
of the more wealthy Establishment in the south.

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but, as he himself states, taking every opportunity
of attaining knowledge of the manners, habits, and
character of the inhabitants of those interesting
districts : — ^an acquaintance which no doubt led to
his subsequent more intimate connexion with
them, and did much to fit him for the discharge of
his duties amongst them. The tour with Lord
Hardwicke especially, was one of great interest
and gratification ; and even to the last, the bishop
was fond of narrating the little adventures, the
noticeable and amusing points of that journey, with
a graphic humour, and a keen relish, which made
the reminiscence as agreeable to the listener as it
evidently was to himself.

The reputation of Mr. Low, as an able and re-
spected presbyter, was now extending itself through-
out the Church, and paving the way to his ele-
vation to the highest order of its ministry. In the
year 1816, when a vacancy occurred by the death
of Bp. Skinner, a proposal was made for the ad-
vancement of Mr. Low to the episcopal college, by
the translation of one of the existing bishops to
Aberdeen, and his consecration to the vacated dio-
cese. Circumstances, however, which it is not now
necessary to detail, prevented the accomplishment
of this purpose; although only a comparatively
short period elapsed before another proposal of this
kind was made, which was declined by himself.
He had been employed, in such offices aa a pres-
byter could perform, as commissary for Bp. Sand-
ford, whose declining health rendered him unequal

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to the entire duties of his widely-extended diocese.
In 1819 the bishop proposed to resign the district
of Pife, which was then combined with those of
Glasgow and Edinburgh, and expressed his hope
and expectation, that in such a case, the choice of
the presbyters of that district would fall on Mr.
Low ; although, with conscientious adherence to
rule, he expressed his purpose of avoiding anj
communication with the clergy, lest it should be
supposed he endeavoured to influence their de-
cision. The letter of Bp. Sandford to Mr. Low
on this subject is so honourable to both, that I
think it right to transcribe its principal passages.

" Fulham >, Aug. 20, 1819.
" My very dear Sir,

" * * * I have expressed to the Primus my
wish to resign the diocese of Fife into the hands of
the college, that it may be disposed of to hands
fitter for it than mine. I confess that I have little
hope that you should be prevailed upon to accept
the office of a bishop ; and my brethren, the clergy
of Fife, may be assured that I resign the charge
only because, if I do not get rid of the troublesome
complaint which has so long oppressed me, I shall
be unable to perform the duties of it. Although I
am well convinced that your acceptance of the
episcopate would be of essential service to our poor
Church, I do not presume to press it on you ; nor
indeed have I any privilege to do more than assure

1 Bp. Sandford was then visiting the Bishop of London.


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you, that, in my opinion, you are the only person
in whom all wishes will meet. Tou are the best
judge of the conduct which you will think it fitting
to pursue ; and whatever you decide to do, I shall
never entertain for you any other than those senti-
ments of regard and esteem which I have long felt

towards you I trust you will not be

offended at the wishes which I have expressed con-
cerning yourself, and that you will believe me, most

"My very dear Sir,
" Your feithful servant, and affectionate brother,

'' Rev. David Low, Pittenweem."

While, however, this proposal was under con-
sideration, another overture was made to Mr. Low,
requesting him to allow himself to be nominated
as successor to the venerable Bishop Macfarlane,
of Boss and Argyle, who died at Inverness, at a
very advanced age, in the same year. Amongst
other communications, the following extracts from
a letter addressed to him by a highly influential
and zealous layman, seem worthy of preservation.

«Edm.,25ih Sept, 1819.
" Eev. and dear Sir,

" I am persuaded I shall stand in no need
of apology for addressing myself to you on a sub-
ject so interesting to our Church, as the present
vacancy in the episcopal college: I assure you I

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look forward to the hope of your being chosen to
M that vacancy, with the conviction that that
event will be highly auspicious to our Church. I
own myself personally much attached to that part
of the kingdom, and interested in its welfSsu^e, both
temporal and spiritual ; and believing, as I do, that
there is a rich harvest, while the labourers are yet
few, and in want of such aid, comfort, and instruc-
tion, as a good bishop would impart to them, I
have my own anxieties abo on the subject: and
my personal and earnest wish would be that you
should accept the care of that bishopric. I am
not unaware of the many considerations which
would naturally render it more conducive to your
comfort, and obviously so to your ease, to be
Bishop of Fife : but if the good of the Church is
to be promoted by your foregoing that natural pre-
ference, I am confident you would not hesitate in

your determination. It would make me truly

happy to be permitted to say to my friends in that
district, what I think and feel with regard to you.
I beg your excuse for this somewhat hurried letter.
I hope you will not think my zeal has urged me
too fu*. Pardon me if you do, and believe me,
with sincere respect,

" Yours faithfully,

" Colin Mackenzie."

Such representations were not without effect:
and Mr. Low decided on permitting himself to be
nominated for the northern diocese, in preference
E 2

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to that of Pife. The result was his unanimous
election by the Presbyters of the united dioceses of
Eoss, Argyle, and the Isles; and the choice was
confirmed by the episcopal college. From numer-
ous letters addressed to him on this occasion, I
cannot withhold extracts from two or three which
seem most deserving of notice. The first is from
the same excellent layman whose previous letter
has just been quoted : a tried and faithful friend to
the Church throughout a long and useful life.

'' Edin., 24th Oct., 1819.
" Eight Eev. and dear Sir,

" I cannot refrain from expressing to you at
the moment of receiving the intelligence, the grati-
fication with which I have learnt by a letter from
Mr. Paterson, one of your presbyters, that you are
Bishop-elect of Ross and Argyle. I assure you I
congratulate myself as a Highlander, and I congra-
tulate that diocese, on an event which I am per-
suaded, under Divine providence, will be produc-
tive to it of the greatest benefits : and I cordially
rejoice in the thought that in a similar proportion
the interests of our Church, and the wider exten-
sion of its principles, will be promoted by the choice
which has been made by the northern clergy. I beg
to assure you of my sincere respect, <fcc. &c.,

" CoLiK Mackenzie."

From his early attached friend Mr. "Walker, a
long and gratifying letter contained this passage : —

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'< Edin., 2501 Oct., 1819.
" Tou will of course have heard, before this cao
reach you, the result of the election, and I can
give you no particulars, because I have heard none:
but I cannot resist, even in this hasty manner, the
hope of being the first to congratulate you on being
Bishop-elect of Boss and Argyle. You wiU take
this as a hasty volunteer of congratulation^ and
believe me ever, dear bishop-elect,

" Tour most devoted,

" James Walkeb."

On the 29th October, Bishop Sandford wrote
thus: —

" My very dear Sir,

" A course of occupation more pressing than
usual, on account of the temporary absence of my
assistant, has prevented me from writing sooner
to request you to be assured of the great satisfac-
tion with which I heard of the result of the election
for a Bishop of Boss and Argyle. I have ah*eady
with great pleasure communicated to the Primus
my official approbation of the choice of the presby-
ters of the vacant diocese : but I cannot wait for
your formal acceptance of the charge proposed to
you, to congratulate myself on the addition to the
college which your promotion will make — an addi-
tion, my very excellent friend, of the utmost con-
sequence to me. I know that you and I think
alike on all the matters of our Church, and I have

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very great comfort in the reflection. I have but
one subject of regret ; and that is caused by my
state of health, which absolutely precludes me from
assisting at your consecration. It would have been
very gratifying to me to perform the duty which
on that occasion would have fallen to me, in Bp.
Jolly's absence, of presenting you to be consecrated.
But although absent in person, you know me too
well not to be assured that in spirit I shall be with
you : and that my sincerest prayers will be offered
for the Divine blessing on you in the discharge of
the serious duties which you undertake. I am
confident of the spirit in which you undertake
them : and hope that it will please God to give you
health to perform them to the advantage of our
humble Church, and to your own comfort. I beg
you to believe me, my dear Sir,

" Your faithful and affectionate brother,

" Daniel Saitdfobb.

" The Rt. RcT. David Low, Bp. Elect of Ross and Argyle."

A characteristic letter from the excellent and
venerable Bp. Jolly follows : —

<* Fraserburgh, Oct. 30, 1819.

"My right dear (and in paulo-jpost-futuro Eight
Eev.) Brother,

"Accept my best thanks for your most
obliging confidential favour, and receive my most
cordial congratulations upon your election to be of

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coksbcejltion at stibliko. 65

our humble number. The seutiment which you
most properly express, becomes the faithful ser-
vant of our Divine Master, who is our strength
as well as our Bedeemer.

" Although the Primus, in consideration of my
distance and state of health, had dispensed with
my attendance, yet, hearing with deep concern of
dear, good Bishop Sandford's state, I have resolved
to go, that my hand, as well as my heart, may be
in the blessed work. It shall prove, I doubt not,
the commencement of sweet harmony and concord,
advancing the honour and glory of our G-reat Lord.
The twenty-third Sunday after Trinity is now fixed
for the office, and I will cheerfully repair to Stirling
for it. The Primus pleads his utter inability to
go from home, sadly pained with a disease which
claims our sympathetic pity. My good, worthy
neighbour, Bp. Torry, intends to set out on Mon-
day. Do you then, my good Sir, say nothing now
of place or person. All shall be weU, by Gted's
blessing. My poor prayers attend you. Let me
have yours in return ; and be assured of the faith-
ftd friendship, with the cordial regard and good
will of,

" My very dear Eeverend Sir,

" Your most affectionate brother, and respectful
humble servant,

" Albxakdbb Jolly."

The consecration took place at Stirling, on the
14th Nov. 1819, the officiating prelates being,

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Bishops Gleig, the Primus, Jolly of Moray, and
Tony of Dunkeld. The deed of collation was also
signed by Bishop Sandford, of Edinburgh, although
unable to attend the solemnity. The consecration
sermon was preached, at Bp. Low's desire, by his
most intimate and dear friend, Mr. "Walker, and
was afterwards published.

The sphere of labour to which Mr. Low was thus
appointed, was one of peculiar interest and im-
portance, not so much from the number or extent
of its then existing congregations — for these indeed
were very few, and widely distant — but from its
ancient associations, as once the cradle of British
Christianity, comprising within its bounds the
venerated island of lona ; and from its more recent
history, as containing a scattered population, a
large proportion of whom, notwithstanding all the
effects of the Eevolution, the removal of their
ministers, and the utter absence of their religious
ordinances, continued sincerely attached to episco-
pacy as a principle, and only awaited the oppor-
tunity of testifying their adherence to it, by
supporting any endeavour to collect again these
sheep without shepherds into their recognized
folds. The new bishop appears to have been ftiUy
aware of the necessities of the district, and sincerely
desirous of supplying them as far as lay in his
power. He entered upon his duties with diligence ;
employing a portion of the ensuing summer in a
first visitation, during which, in company with his
friend Mr, "Walker, as his chaplain, he traversed

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the extensive tract of country comprised in his
charge; and endeavoured to make himself acquainted,
not only with the condition of existing congre-
gations, but with the wants and the prospects of
the wide range still unoccupied. That his exertions
were not without success, will appear as we

In the early part of 1820, a degree of LL.D. was
conferred upon the bishop by his Alma Mater, the
Marischal College at Aberdeen; accompanied by
the following note from Dr. Brown, the Principal :

** Aberdeen, April 28, 1820.
" Very Eev. Sir,

"I have the pleasure to transmit to you,
along with this note, a Diploma of LL.D. I am
joined by my academical colleagues in wishing you
long life and health to enjoy your newly-acquired
honours. My letter to Lord Kellie has informed
you of our sentiments on this subject.

" I have the honour to be. Very Eev. Sir,
" Tour obedient, humble servant,
"W. L. Bbown."

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Or the close and affectionate friendship existing
between Bp. Low and Mr. Walker, afterwards Bishop
of Edinburgh, notice has already been taken, — a
friendship which is most pleasingly illustrated by a
confidential correspondence between them, the
portions of which in my possession extend from the
year 1818 to nearly the death of Bp. Walker in
1841. Many of these letters are of a nature only
interesting to those who knew the respective
parties; others refer to details of ecclesiastical
business, important at the time, but now of com-
paratively little moment. One of the earliest of
these letters, however, appears to me worthy of
extract, not only from its general character, but
from the facts related in connexion with what I
believe was the introduction of the Anglican worship
in the city of Eome. It is generally supposed that
the establishment of our service there was due to a
respected English clergyman, several years after

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Mr. Walker had actually institnted it ; and although
not in itself a question of great moment, it is not
uninteresting to discover such proofs that a pres-
byter of the Scottish Church had so long before
accomplished that introduction. An allusion is
also observable to the state of health of Bp. Low,
who had previously suffered seriously from a com-
plaint, which necessitated a painful operation, from
which, however, he entirely recovered *. It appeared
that both parties little imagined that nearly forty
years of active life still remained for one who then
thought himself in a declining condition. An
extract from a letter to Mr. Walker, in 1823,
feelingly alludes to these mutual sympathies. " In
consequence of that (says the bishop, referring to
a remark of his friend), and a nervous habit, I have
suffered pretty severely myself; but in me these
ailments partake so much of a disposition to
solitude, that I cannot suffer them so much as to be
taken notice of by others, or to see the face of man
or woman when under their influence. Part of
your constitution, which I have with you in common,
is an anxious disposition — a disposition which is
highly increased by weakness of body ; and what
you want now is a retreat for some time from the
sight and the hearing of every thing that much
interests or agitates you. On this subject I am

^ The bishop observed, that it was a curious fact that he was
the third bishop of Ross who had undergone the same operation
for the same disease ; but the other two died in consequence.

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aware that I have given more advice already than
perhaps even friendship authorizes ; but that also
is attributable to the temper of mind referred to."
These secret and concealed ailments probably will
account for that occasional irritability of tem-
perament which was observable in the bishop's
conduct, and which those who did not know his
truly benevolent and warm-hearted disposition,
sometimes appear to have mistaken for his ordinary

The kindness and consideration of the principal
members of his congregation were remarkably
evidenced in this case ; he was taken to Edinburgh
for the best advice and treatment, received by one
of them * as a guest during his illness, and tended
with all the care and solicitude which could have
been displayed towards the nearest relative. He
delighted to tell, in his last years, of these traits of
affectionate regard ; and thus to recall, in tender
recollection, dear friends long since passed to their

Mr. "Walker's letter, alluded to, was written
from Eome, during a lengthened tour on the Con-
tinent; although the whole is interesting, parts
only are extracted.

*< Rome, March 5, 1818.

" I have ample jottings in the way of journal,
which I hope will furnish matter of frequent future
conversation, if it please God so to spare, and so

3 John Anstrather Thomson, Esq., of Charleton*

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DB. WiXEEB, 61

to bless us. One recollection, which is yet forcible,

Online LibraryWilliam BlatchA memoir of the Right Rev. David Low, D.D., Ll.D.: formerly Bishop of the ... → online text (page 4 of 24)