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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

The Rev. Donald Macnaughton Stuart

The Rev. Donald Macnaughton Stuart , D.D., sometime Minister of Knox Church, Dunedin, was born in the year 1820, in a hamlet near the confluence of the river Lyon with the river Tay, in Perthshire, Scotland. He attended the parish school at Kenmore, and the master, a college-bred man, instructed him in Gaelic, English, Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. While he was yet a mere lad, young Stuart himself took to page 177
Photographed by A. J. Barth, Organist.Interior of Knox Church, Dunedin.

Photographed by A. J. Barth, Organist.
Interior of Knox Church, Dunedin.

school-teaching as a means of enablingmg him to attend the university, and a noteworthy episode in this part of his life was that for six weeks, at Leven, in Fifeshire, he had only one pupil, who paid him a fee of threepence a week. This very fact, however, afterwards led to an attendance which enabled him to study at St. Andrew's University, where he obtained a bursary. Later on he entered the New College, Edinburgh, and there studied under the celebrated Dr. Chalmers. When he was only twenty-four years of age he was appointed classical master at a good schoo near Windsor, in England, and soon became principal of the institution. Meanwhile he carried on his studies for the ministry; and after being licensed to preach by the Free Presbytery of Kelso, he was called to the Presbyterian church of Falstone, on the English Border. There he did excellent work for ten years, till 1859, when he was selected to procced to Dunedin, New Zealand, to form and minister to a second congregation, to relieve that of the Rev. Dr. Burns, the pioneer minister of the settlement. From the time of his arrival, early in 1860, to the date of his death on Saturday, the 12th of May, 1894, Dr. Stuart was a man of mark in New Zealand. His University conferred the degree of Doctor in Divinity on him in 1872. Besides his purely pastoral work, which was farreaching and unflagging, Dr. Stuart did much for his own community and the colony as an educationist. He was chairman of the Otago Boys' and Girls' High Schools, successively Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor of the University of Otago; and was also a Fellow of the University of New Zealand in the senatorial government of which he took an active part. In writing of him two days after his death,
The late Rev. D. M. Stuart.

The late Rev. D. M. Stuart.

a Wellington newspaper thus described his life and character: “A book-loving boy; a struggling young teacher; a University student, who gets into trouble through the liberality of his sentiments; an energetic clergyman, first in the Old Country, then in New Zealand, a sincere and enlightened co-worker with those who founded primary and secondary schools and universities; a private and public friend to every movement favourable to the elevation and advancement of the commonweal—all such things indicate what a man is and testify to his practical usefulness, and Dr. Stuart was a man of much note in connection with all of them. Still, worthy as his works were, the man himself was greater than his achievements. No truer product or exponent of Christianity ever preathed or worked in these southern lands. His character was altogether noble. With a native bias to the gracious and the good, Christian principle in his heart and mind was as seed in a rich and congenial soil. The result was a living man—wholesome, large-hearted, and free from petty and demeaning characteristics. The contemptible egoism whose possessor is to himself the alpha and omega of the world had no place in Dr. Stuart's nature. His page 178 whole character was a protest against conceit and deceit in every form. With the aid of Christian principle consolidate and build up what is good and true in human character, and eliminate what is vain and vicious, for it is only in this way that men can become their better selves; and, having thus become themselves, let them, with God's help, remain so, and avoid self-righteousness by ceaselessly cultivating, in thought and deed, the great virtues of compassion and considerateness: that was the gospel as practised and preached by Dr. Stuart. In speech and action his whole personal and ministerial life was a large and living commentary on the great texts: ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul’—his better, his vital self—and ‘Love ye one another.’ Expressed in practice the result of this gospel is a harmonious union of the true Individualist and the true Socialist. Dr. Stuart was such a man, and Chaucer's lines might, indeed, be his epitaph—‘The lore of Christ and His Apostles twelve He taught; but first, he followed it himselve.’