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A Romance of Lake Wakatipu

Chapter IX

page 33

Chapter IX.

The Free Kirk of Scotland Settlement—Dunedin in a Transition State—Extension of the City—Glasgow Arms Inn—The First Church—The Rev. Dr. Burns—Intestate Estate worth a Million and a half Sterling.

Dunedin* was first permanently peopled by the sons of Scotland. It was a Free Kirk of Scotland settlement, and its early days were intimately associated with that body. It had its fasts and sacramental Sabbaths. Its religious tenets were not alone a thing of territorial extent; they were also a thing of days and moments. Punctually at 12 o'clock of a Saturday night all secular employment was suspended, and no work resumed until the corresponding hour of 12 the following evening, unless, indeed, it could be construed as a work of necessity or mercy. The day was devoted to personal adornment, sermons on Bell Hill or in the Valley, a little study of Calvin, and a cold dinner.

In public estimation, sessions and synods were of greater importance than Town Boards and Provincial Councils, and church-fellowship was a privilege more highly prized than the rights of citizenship and the exercise of the franchise.

To some extent at least local legislation submitted itself deferentially to ecclesiastical authority. Umbrage was taken by the latter to dray-traffic on Sundays inside the town, and immediately an edict was passed prohibiting such desecration.

At the time of which we write Dunedin was in a transition state. The goldfields discoveries, and the arrival of a number of Victorian merchants, who opened branch-establishments in the place, wakened up the Old Identity to a sense of the future

* See Appendix, Note 18.

See Appendix, Note 19.

page 34before them. Mud houses and wattle-and-dab shanties began to give place to buildings more in accordance with the prospects.

Hemmed in by hills, the infant city had already crossed one of these barriers, and was extending itself rapidly down the valley on the other side. In that state, one portion of the town was partially cut off from the other. The Old Identity determined that their town should not be divided in that way, and the Cutting through the Bell Hill joined the city again. The earth from this cutting reclaimed a considerable area of land from the flat shore of the harbour.

Enterprise of equal magnitude was directed towards the hills forming the background. Gullies penetrating these ranges were formed into streets, with underground channels for draining off the water, for conveyance of which Nature had originally designed the gullies. Side-roads, with zigzag paths, were made leading up to building-sites cut out of the hills at considerable heights.

Such was Dunedin, at the Rattray Street corner of which the Arrowtown lawyer alighted from the coach.

Strolling leisurely along Princes Street, valise in hand, he selected a modest-looking hostelry in the Cutting, over the doorway of which a hanging signboard announced the "Glasgow Arms Inn. John Crawford, licensee."

Proceeding inside, he was met by the landlord, who extended a hearty welcome.

"Come ye'r wa'as ben the hoose," said he; "I'm blythe tae see ye. Man, Duncan Campbell, ye're getting grey, like mysel'. Hoo hae ye been getting alang sin' I last saw ye? Ye'11 be nane the war o' a dram of guid whiskey till they get a snack o' something for ye to eat."

The lawyer soon found himself comfortably settled in his new quarters, while his friend the landlord attended to business.

At last the hostelry was closed, and the landlord joined his guest in a bowl of toddy. The mutchkin stoup in which the liquor was decanted was several times replenished, and still the landlord and his guest had not discussed all they had to say about their native city of Glasgow.

These quiet revels were disturbed by a knock on the outside door.

"Ye needna rap there," cried the landlord. "Ye ken well page 35eneuch it's noo the Sabbath morning, and, if ye want whiskey on the Sabbath, gang to the back door fur't."

Returning to his guest, the landlord remarked apologetically, "We're getting an unco' lot o' folks about us. They ha'e na mair regard for the Sabbath than for ilka day. For mysel', I aye like tae observe the Lord's day, and I mak' it a rule never to sell a drap drink unless it be at the back door."

There was a seriousness about the remark which showed that in this outward observance the landlord felt quite convinced he was honouring both the law and the testimony.

Next day was Sunday, a day of special note in the weekly calendar of the Old Identity.

Outside the Glasgow Arms the air was redolent of the day. The streets were thronged with church-goers, the largest proportion wending its way to the Presbyterian place of worship.*

Campbell readily distinguished his co-religionists, and, on emerging into the street, joined their ranks. Following their lead, Campbell soon found himself inside the First Church, engaged in the devotional exercises of the Presbyterian faith.

The officiating clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Burns, was a man in all respects well fitted to be a leader of the early Church of Otago. Many of his hearers accompanied him from the Mother-country—cast in their lot with him; and he had been one with them in all their struggles to make for themselves a home. In the strictest sense of the word he had been their counsellor, their guide, and their friend. Rejoicing with them in their joy, he had also mingled tears with them in their sorrows. In that way he had endeared himself by all the sacred ties of the faithful pastor and the attached people. He was now old, well stricken in years; but, still, his ministrations were earnest and vigorous, and so it may be said they continued to the latest hours of his honoured life.

The next day—Monday—Lawyer Campbell set about the work he had in hand, and, after diligent search into trade directories and newspaper-files, gleaned the information that Josiah Begg, of San Francisco, had died, leaving what was deemed an intestate estate, valued at one and a half millions sterling, and that the succession thereto was at present under litigation.

* See Appendix Note 20.

See Appendix, Note 21.