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Life and Times of D. M. Stuart, D.D.

Chapter XXVI. — Deputies from Scotland

page 185

Chapter XXVI.
Deputies from Scotland.

The Doctor wrote to us under date 29th June, 1889: "MacGregor, of St. Cuthbert's, arrived in New Zealand a fortnight ago. We expect him in Dunedin. I did my best to induce him to preach twice to-morrow, but he declines, pleading his state of health. He preaches once, and gives a lecture on Wednesday in Knox Church. He is full of life, a Perthshire man with Celtic blood. Much is expected of him, and I am sure the people will not be disappointed. Blair writes that he puts no side on—a circumstance that will help to open Colonial hearts to him…. I have taken ten minutes out of the afternoon, but now I must stop, for I have to make a few calls, and, in the evening, to swell the welcome to Dr MacGregor."

Four days later he wrote: "Dr MacGregor arrived in Dunedin on Saturday evening. He preached in First Church on Sabbath evening to a large crowd. He lectures in Knox Church to-night, and leaves for Invercargill on Saturday. He is impulsive, imaginative, with strong individuality. He makes himself very agreeable. I gave him a copy of your 'History.' He told me that Professor Mitchell had lent him his copy—the very one I presented to him in St. Andrews page 186last July, He is very droll, very social, and very loving."

"I am sorry," he wrote later on, "you had not the chance of meeting the deputies. Both made themselves very agreeable. But, in fact, they could scarcely do otherwise, as everybody went about to do them service and honour. Our Colonists are unwearied in showing kindness to big men. I liked them both. Rainy is a self-possessed and modest man. He knows himself and can take life quietly. MacGregor is exceedingly impulsive, but a most pleasant man."

"In no place," Dr Rainy wrote, on his return to Scotland, "did my wife and I find our visit more enjoyable than at Dunedin. Here we have the finest weather, lovely scenery, a beautiful house to live in, and, as usual, every description of kindly hospitality. It was a great part of our pleasure here to make the acquaintance of Dr Stuart, whom I missed seeing last year, when he revisited Scotland. It is not easy to say how much the good cause in Otago owes to the presence and leadership of a man to whom the whole community looks up with love and pride; who is regarded as one of its most sagacious and public-spirited, as well as its largest hearted and most sympathetic men. Long may he live and occupy with undiminished vigour the place he fills so well. Not too soon steps are being taken to secure a colleague to share the work of the congregation, and so to prolong, by God's blessing, Dr Stuart's public usefulness. For any man who is capable of appreciating the position and public work of Dr page 187Stuart, and will come to labour with him as a son in the Gospel, this will be a noble position; and if he brings adequate gifts to the service, he need not doubt that he will be heartily seconded and supported."

An incident significant of the kindly relations which Dr Stuart maintained with other sections of the Church, happened in March, 1889, when the Bishop of Melanesia, with the full concurrence of the New Zealand Anglican Episcopate, was present in Knox Church on the occasion of the ordination of Mr Smaill as a missionary to the New Hebrides.

The early colonisation of Otago was a subject that always awakened the Doctor's keenest interest, and on every available opportunity he spoke with profound admiration of the fathers of the Provincial Colony. Of Captain Cargill, he spoke as the Moses of the settlement, of Dr Burns, as the Aaron, Mr Macandrew, he regarded as the greatest stateman that Otago had produced, and Mr John McGlashan, as facile princeps, the educationist of the Province.

"I received last week," he wrote, under date 31st July, 1889, "from Home a copy of the speech old Dr Norman McLeod (father of the more celebrated but not abler man) delivered in 1839, when the ship sailed for Wellington, taking there the first contingent of the Scotch colony with Mr MacFarlane for minister. I hope to obtain the speech which the historian, Sir Archibald Alison, delivered in London in connection with the movement. The discussions which resulted in the Disruption diverted the attention of the Church from the 'Scotch Colony,' and the ship had no successor for the North Island. The New Zealand page 188Company addressed itself, as you know, to the Free Church in 1845—as the section of the Presbyterian Church which had overflowing life—with the result of the Otago Colony."

The Doctor was put on the Executive Committee appointed by the Synod to bring out prominently at the Exhibition held in Dunedin, the part which the Presbyterian Church had played in the foundation of Otago. "It held in its hands," he used to say, "the seeds of primary, secondary, and higher education, and so of religion." The Exhibition had a good start. "We have a Presbyterian bay, but it is not very creditable to us. The pictures of Macandrew, Cargill, Dr Burns, McGlashan, Dr Hislop, and of myself are exhibited in a bay too narrow for such large pictures. We have also enlarged photographs of the late Mr Gillies, of Mr Will, and many more, with photographs of churches and manses. I got the enlarged photo, of Dr Menzies. It is a capital likeness of a man who was both wise and good."

Again he began to feel the pressure of unceasing labour. "It is our Communion week," he wrote, 12th September, 1889. "I am kept very busy; so much so, that I am not able to sleep. I hied me to bed at 10 p.m., thinking, as I was tired and drowsy, I was sure to rest. But after two hours' tossing, I lighted my candle, read the minutes of the New, Hebrides Mission Synod in MS., and then finding myself as far from the Land of Nod as ever, I began this letter to you…. I am busy with meetings, marriages, and funerals, two Church meetings, and calls with page 189'certificates and for certificates. Let me not complain while I have a measure of health.

"I got the Jubilee volume. It is well written, and tells its tale with more liveliness than marks Dr Hamilton's book."

Never resisting appeals for help on the plea that his hands were sufficiently full of work, we find him at Gore, preaching anniversary sermons, on 6th October; opening a bazaar at Mosgiel, on the 11th; and a handsome new church at Milton, two days later. "I am kept at the wheel," he wrote, "but I am glad and grateful to say that I keep wonderfully strong. Last Sabbath, I had the Bible Class in the morning, and two heavy services to very full congregations in the Church—swelled by a large number of strangers. I had an afternoon service in Leith Valley, which I enjoyed better than either the forenoon or evening services. I always liked to have from 60 to 100 men, women, and children, eagerly listening to such Divine truths as I was able to set forth."

"I am kept very busy," he wrote to Mrs Ferguson. I am tormented with applications for my impressions of the Old Country. The congregations think I have abundance of leisure, and can absent myself from my field of labour any time I like, when the fact is that I am little better than a gin-horse, tied to my beat. I am not complaining; for the felt possession of health is a joy for ever. The Church work goes on as usual. Some come and some go, but the people are always there to bless and praise the Lord."