Letters From Hugh Young from 1847 - 1858
Transcribed and contributed by Bruce P. Shields email@example.com
H. Young to Alexander Shields; dated Laurieston, March 17th, 1847
I am glad in the prospect (at last) of getting the small parcel I intended forewarded to you. I have talked so much about it that I fear I have raised your expectations too high, and that you will of course meet with a disappointment. I think I hear some one of you saying when its contents are turned out, "And is that all?" It is a question in Philosophy, "Which is greater, the pleasure of hope or the pleasure of enjoyment." Now if the pleasure of enjoyment is very small, you must remember how great has been the pleasure of hope for these two or three years past, and make the best of it by adding the one to the other.
In this family we are nearly in the same circumstances as when I wrote last. Christina was very unwell for two or three weeks, and her Mother was laid up with fatigue and a bad cold for a few days, otherwise we have all enjoyed a measure of health through the winter. Margaret continues in her situation. She likes it well, and finds herself very comfortable. Alexander, I am sorry to say, has not been so well for some time. He is subject to cold, and has had frequently a bad cough, and pain in his breast. He has had too much to do this winter. Besides three classes in College, he has had four or five hours of private teaching in families. As the boys he teaches are at public classes through the day, he requires to be much exposed at night, which is very much against him. As the Session of College will soon ;be over and the weather will become milder, we have hope that his health may improve. How many young men set out with a view to the Christian Ministry, and never reach the object of their desire and how many more enter upon it with shattered constitutions from which they never fully recover.
Immediately on receiving your letter, I wrote to Leelone, with a view to collect as much information regarding our relations in that quarter as possible, both for my own satisfaction, and also that I might have something new to transmit to you, and I am happy to say that I had a letter yesterday from Francis's Widow. I shall not give you any extract from it, but rather send it entire as an opportunity can be obtained. There are some things in it in which you will feel an interest. Relations and acquaintances are dropping away, and our appointed time will soon arrive. How important to have our Loins girded and our lamps burning, to be in the discharge of present duty, "Looking and waiting for the coming of the Savior"---
You have certainly great cause of thankfulness to the Bountiful giver of all good, that you and the many inhabitants of your adopted country are favoured with an abundance of the necessaries of life. In many parts of Great Britain and Ireland it is far otherwise. The nearly total loss of the Potatoe crop, and the great deficiency of several of the other crops, have brought us into an alarming state. A very severe winter too has also tended to increase the Calamity. Already, Famine and Pestilence (its usual attendant) prevail extensively in Ireland, and it is supposed that upwards of Eight Millions Stirling of the public money will be required for the Support of that unhappy country till September. Already upwards of a Hundred Thousand in the Highlands of Scotland are supported by Charity. And it is supposed that before harvest the number will be encreased by upwards of fourfold. All kinds of provisions are very high. The barrel of American flour is at present about Two Guineas. "He turneth a fruitful land into barreness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." [Psalm 107:34] Owing to the formation of Railways, Labour is plenty and wages are high, so that labourers here are not suffering so much, but Trades people, and such as we are who have a limited income, and no way of improving it are feeling the pressure of the times very much. We have still the necessaries of life, but I fear if the times do not improve we shall not be able to go on with the Education of the younger girls.
I think, upon the whole, our church in Scotland is fully keeping her ground, though we cannot boast of great prosperity. A
Mr. McMeikan[?] has been ordained to a new congregation at Lesmahagow; a
Mr. Harkness is about to be ordained at Colmonel, and a
Mr. Morrison brought up in this Congregation, has accepted a call to Eskdalemuir and
Ettrick. We have lately ordained two missionaries, a Mr.
John McLachlan who has gone to Canada to succeed the Late
Mr. McReady, and a Mr. Cunningham who has gone to labour among the Jews in
Mr. Cunningham is the Author of the volume on Covenanting which you will find in the parcel; he is a man of great talent and Learning throughout, a very popular preacher. From a Report sent you will learn something of the difficulty he has to encounter from the obstinacy and unbelief of the posterity of Abraham. We are at present supporting five Missionaries in all: two in
Canada, two in
New Zealand, and one in
We have at present an excellent seed time. Beans and oats are nearly all sown, and the Farmers in the Kerse are busy preparing their barly ground. There will be very few potatoes planted this season; any seed that can be got sells at a most extravagant price. Three shillings is a present the price of our small peck, which would amount to somewhere about Four pounds Stirling for the Old Airshire boll.
Last Sabbath was the anniversary of my ordination and concluded a quarter of a Century of my Ministry. Of about ninety who then stood on the communion roll, only Eleven are now on it, and five of them are so infirm with age, that they are not likely ever again to meet with us in the house of God here below. Of the ninety who then formed the Congregation, only Nineteen, so far as I know, are now alive. With a view to bring some of these things before the Congregation I preached from Heb.xiii:14 "Here we have no continuing City, but we seek one to come." We have at present nearly the same number of Communicants as when I came here; our number at present is Ninety three and there was bout the same number of aged and infirm then as now. It is so far good that we have kept our ground. The Principles of the Reformation were never popular in this district. This quarter has ever been the stronghold of the Secession and Voluntaryism is now the order of the day. Besides, since the commencement of what is called the Church Extension scheme, and the disruption of the Church of Scotland, there have been at least seventeen new places of public worship erected within the bounds of this congregation so that in these times of Laxity both in principle and Morality, we need not look for great increase.
Glasgow, March 29th, 1847.
H.Young to Alex. Shields, dated Laurieston (Falkirk) Jan.y 17th 1849
Dear Brother & Sister,
During the past year, our Presbytery has been placed in peculiar, and painful circumstances. We have three vacancies in it, all requiring occasionally supply from Ministers. The
Rev. Mr. Stevenson late of Stirling
was, in May last, deposed for Drunkeness. We had many meetings of Committees and of Presbytery, which, with the supply of vacancies and our ordinary labours at home, rendered the condition of the Remanent members far from being a sinecure. Besides I was purposing month after month to take a run among our relations in the West country, both for my own satisfaction and also that I might be able to give you a circumstantial account of our surviving kindred. A pressure of Labour, however, and a long and dangerous illness, from which I am only as yet partially recovered, have kept me from fulfilling my purpose up till this date. I hope
Mr. Robert, my only Nephew whom I never saw, will forgive any apparent neglect, with which his first communication has been treated.
On the evening of the 28th of October last I was seized with (what was supposed to be) a "Determination" or flowing of blood to the head and slight Symptoms of Paralysis, which I have no doubt was occasioned by over exertion and previous nervous excitement. When engaged in family worship, I felt a difficulty in articulation, but did not pay much attention to it. I slept some during the night and rose early as usual on Sabbath morning, but found myself in a very confused state, and when again I attempted family worship, I found not only that the power of articulating was worse than on the preceding evening, but my recollection was so far affected that in some instances I could not finish the sentence I had begun. It was at once apparent that to go to the Pulpit was altogether out of the question and Medical aid was immediately procured. I was first bled and afterwards severely blistered. I got immediate relief, indeed scarcely had the blood followed the Lancet from the arm, when I found myself better. I was, however, by the means used, together with Low diet to which I was confined for a time, reduced to such a state of weakness that I was confined to bed for about a month, and for six Sabbaths did not attempt any public duty. I have now preached shortly for the last six Sabbaths, but in doing so I am in so far acting contrary to my Medical advisor, who says I ought not to study for some time, nor Preach nor do anything which occasions anxiety or requires mental exertion. I still feel an unpleasant tightness in my head which requires the use of medicine every second or third day to keep it in check. From my present state of health you will readily infer that my days henceforth must be very uncertain, and that it is not unlikely that my removal from the Church on earth may be sudden.
I have been very kindly dealt with. God has given warning and time to prepare. Since I was taken unwell two Ministers in this neighborhood have been almost instantly removed by death, and from the period of the attack were in a state of insensibility. I have been a very unprofitable Labourer in the Lord's vineyard, and feel that I am altogether sinful and polluted in the sight of an infinitely holy God. Yet I am not without hope, that when the earthly house of this Tabernacle is dissolved, I shall through faith in the finished work of the Divine Saviour, be received into the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. But to have grace "to work while it is Day, the night cometh when no man can work" --
The other members of the family have all enjoyed an ordinary measure of health for some time. Anna had a very bad cold for a long time last winter, and her cough was so violent that she several times put up blood, which was rather alarming, but she got quite well again, and has had no return of it since. Margaret who was upwards of two years governess in a Gentleman's family in East Lothian is at home this winter, and gives some assistance to her four younger sisters who are still prosecuting their studies at a female Seminary in this neighborhood. They are now ell advanced in English, French, Music, Drawing, Geography, &c&c and I hope they will be able in due time, if spared, to make a respectable livelihood by teaching others. Alexander was licensed in August last, and has preached every Sabbath since. From his obtaining several prizes during the last two years he spent at College, and one or two of them first prizes where there was strong competition, high expectations were formed of him throughout the church, and I am happy to be able to say that so far as he has gone, they have not been disappointed. I shall say no more of him at present, lest you should accuse me of a little Parental vanity. He is much exposed at present, in traveling round the country, and soon may all our hopes be blasted.
Cholera prevails almost throughout our land at present, and is carrying off great numbers of our population, and those out of all ranks in Society. In Glasgow for a number of days there were upward of two hundred cases daily, and nearly the one half of them proved fatal. Last report, it was considerably abated, and the death were fewer in proportion. In this neighborhood it still prevails, and has been very deadly, but as yet, as far as I know, non of my congregation have been carried off by it. From the abounding of Sin, the Public profanation of the Sabbath, the neglect of divine ordinances, and the countenance known in high places to Popery, we are truly a people ripe for judgement.
The Revolutionary spirit which has prevailed on the Continent of Europe, during the past year, has greatly affected the interests of this country, and Trade and Commerce have been almost at a stand. Many have been unable to find employment, and our poor's rates have become a burden almost intolerable. But we had a good crop, and an excellent harvest, and provisions are moderate in price, which is a great blessing to the poor. There was not a great breadth of Potatoes planted. Perhaps about the one third were diseased.
I have sent your last letter on a tour among our relations, I addressed it to James Hamilton, with instructions to foreward it to his Brother William at Stobbieside, from thence to Meadowfoot, and then to any of the Shields who may survive. I have also requested them to procure for me the address of the family you mention, and the time they purpose to leave this country and to send me out information of your relations (on either side) as they may think will be interesting to you. So that if they attend to my instructions, and I am spared, I may have matter for another letter by the time the Gilmours leave Scotland.
Our Church in this country, I am sorry to say, has been during the past year, apparently under a frown. Two ministers, both sons in law of the Late Mr. Goold of Edinburgh, have been deposed for intemperance. Mr. Henderson, one of them, has gone to America where we learn he is now engaged in teaching. Other two, viz Mr. Wilson of Dundee and Mr. McLeod of Stranraer, have resigned their charges. Mr. Wilson has gained the Free church, I have not heard certainly what Mr. McLeod intends to do. I believe some alienation between them and their congregations occasioned by money matters has been the cause of Separation in both cases. There has been some disturbance in the congregation of Darvel on the subject of signing petitions to the House of Commons, such as against Catholic endowments &c. I fear the Congregation has suffered by it. Mr. Rogerson was lately dangerously ill of Typhus fever, but we heard yesterday that he is recovering. Several of the other ministers have also been laid aside by the affliction for a longer or shorter period, but at present they are all so far as I know convalescent. The signs of the times are worthy of attention. Will the Pope be able to retain his Spiritual power, now that he has been so far shorn of his temporal? And are the present Political earth quakes and "distress of nations" to introduce the day of the Churche's Millenial glory? "Blessed shall they be who shall come to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" [Daniel 12:12] I shall not see it, but for Jerusalem's sake, and for my brethren and Children's sake, I pray that the Lord my hasten it.
I am glad there is a prospect of some modification in the rate of Postage between Britain and the United States, for it has hitherto been very oppressive. Besides what you pay, every letter I send to you costs one shilling, and every one I receive the same. I was sorry I did not see Mr. Wilson when he was in the country; had I known he was to pass through Sterling, I would gone to meet with him. Mrs. Stiel, so far as I recollect, is the only person I have met, who had seen you since you left the Mother Country. I had almost neglected to state that my sight has been gradually getting weaker and some of the other senses are not so acute as they once were. The Head, I now find, must ere long be taken down, in order to its getting a thorough repair. This is the longest seat I have had at my desk since I was unwell. I feel I have sat too long so I must bid adieu. All here unite in Sincere regards to yourselves and all the members of your family, and with sincerest wishes for your every good, I am your affectionate Brother, Hugh Young.
P.S. I think your arrangement about the Farms at your time of life a very wise and judicious one.
From Rev. Hugh Young to Agnes & Alexander Shields (was enveloped)
My health has made some improvement, but I am not what I once was; I still feel almost daily and unpleasant tightness in my head and the use of medicine is frequently required to keep it in check; Yet I have been enabled in the kindness of Providence to go on with my work, and to preach every Sabbath. The other members of this family have all enjoyed nearly uninterrupted health since I last wrote you.
About six weeks ago,
Alexander when preaching at New Cumnock got himself wet and was seized with Rheumatism in one of his legs especially the knee. He has suffered a good deal from it but still was able to preach. We heard yesterday that he is rather better and has been getting more sleep for some nights past. I am happy to say that
Alexander has hitherto been a very acceptable Preacher, and has fully realized the hopes which were entertained respecting him. He had not been long licensed when he got three calls, one from
Wishaw, one from
Darvel, and one from
Dundee. He accepted the one from
Darvel, and on the 28th of last month was ordained there co-Pastor with
Mr. Rogerson. I preached at Darvel by exchange with Alex'r on the Sabbath before the ordination, and I waited and introduced him on the Sabbath following. I preached on the forenoon from Psalm cxxxii, 16; and his text afternoon was ii Cor iv:7.
Mr. Rogerson is now greatly better, and hopes to be able to take a half day occasionly - He was very weakly for a long time and I was feared he would never be able to resume his pulpit labours, and lest the congregation should suffer, they were led to think of a Colleague.
Margaret and Janet
have commenced a Seminary for the Board and Education of young ladies in
Kilmarnock, but we cannot as yet tell how they may succeed. They have just made a beginning. As there is now a Railway from
Kilmarnock to New
Mills, they and Alexander
can see each other at little expense, and without much loss of time.
As to the information I obtained respecting your relations of the Shields family, I think I cannot do better than just copy the note which I had from Alexander Young of Meadowfoot, near the end of March last. I believe there has been no particular change since then.
March 26, 1849
I am, Dear Uncle,
From the above you will see that changes are taking place, and that our relations are from time to time being gathered to their Fathers. From our advanced period of life, our time cannot be far distant. May God of his rich mercy grant that each and all of us may be made ready for the inheritance above.
At our meeting of Synod in May last we had no business of special importance, and I may say the State of the Church in general is very much as when I have written to you on former occasions. We have two Missionaries in Canada, two in New Zealand, and one laboring among the jews in London. In New Zealand they meet with much opposition from the church of England, whose Missionaries have got the natives to believe that none are ministers who have not got Episcopal ordination, and of course that ordinances dispensed by any others are not valid. The jews in London are all heartily set upon "De Lucre" and some of them have told Dr. Cunningham they would talk with him if he would give them ten shillings and hour. He has notwithstanding got a number of Jewish families interested, and he is doing a good deal in instructing the young.
A Mr. McLeod who succeeded Dr. Symington at Stranraer left us last spring and joined the Free Church. He proposes a change of views with regard to Covenant obligation, etc. But many think that an unhappy temper which had alienated the Congregation from him was the chief cause. We have had lately three ordinations, one at Girvan, one at Stirling, and the one at Darvel. I think we have at present 31 ordained Ministers, Seven or eight vacancies, and for or five Preachers. Two are expected o be licensed after the present Session of Hall. I hope your Robert is pushing his way for the Ministry. There is still great need for Labourers, "They are certainly few and the harvest is great."
We have had a rather cold summer and in the High grounds the harvest is late. In this neighborhood however the fields are nearly cleaned, and the crop is very good, only I am sorry to say that within the last week or ten days the Potatoes are failing fast. The mysterious disease seems to be making rapid progress, and the people are taking them up as fast as they can. As they did pretty well last year, there was a great many planted this year, and of course the loss will be the greater.
During the present season the people all had employment and as Meal and bread are very cheap, I think the people in general are in a comfortable and contented condition. We hear much of war abroad, but we have had the enjoyment of peace at home. Cholera has again broke out in many towns and villages, and is very mortal. There is much reason to fear that it will become naturalized to the country and that we may have frequent, if not annual visits of it. I am sorry to learn by the papers that it is also spreading over American and have been many Deaths especially in New York. Has it yet visited your neighborhood?
Mrs. Young's' two brothers are still in Australia and are doing very well so far as we know. Of Alexander Young of England we know very little He has left the farm he rented near Alnwick and has gone farthur South, but whether the change is an advantageous one or not we have not learned. He writes us very seldom. He was with us a night last year, and seemed in good Spirits. We had also a visit of his wife last season. She had been in Edinburgh on business and came out to take a night with us.
Of National movements, and the signs of the times, I need not say anything. You now doubt have access to the means of information as much as we have. Certainly the times are onerous, and I think the time of the Church's deliverance is drawing near, but judgments must proceed and we know not what the Church may have to endure, or what her members may have to suffer ere the day of her prosperity be ushered in, and those we count just be found in present duty. I feel that the period of my usefulness is not likely to be long. My sight is greatly worse since my late illness, and I am now easily fatigued. What is worse, I see little fruit of my ministry, yet trust I have not laboured altogether in vain.
Just as I had finished the above, a Genteel looking person called at the door, and asked for me saying his name was John Young. He is Our Brother James's Second Son and Brother to Alex'r. It is about twenty five years since we heard any thing of him till lately. His history is somewhat particular. About the year 1824 He left his business in Edinburgh, joined a band of strolling players. sometime after his Brother found him in great misery in Dumbarton, almost naked. He brought him here, where we got him clothes, and he then went with Alex'r to St. Andrews, and got into teaching somewhere in that neighborhood, but made a foolish marriage which - with some other imprudences - made it necessary for Alex to leave him to his own resources. It seems he was a teacher for some years in Angusshire and then went to England where he has taught in different places ever since.
It seems he has also been a Wesleyan Preacher for several years, but has now given it up, he says, when he saw the ignorance that prevailed in many places where he was. He got quite an Enthusiastic preacher, often walked or rode many miles preaching three times on Sabbath and back again on Monday for his teaching, till he was worn to a shadow. He saw he could not stand it, and as he got a good situation, he now confines himself to teaching. He has only been here a few hours and I cannot form a very decided judgement of him. This much is evident, that he is well dressed, very intelligent and Gentlemanly in his manner and speaks like a Devoted Christian. A friend of their Mother's has left some money, which made it necessary to try and find him out, and what is remarkable, he and Alexander had been living for a number of years only a small distance from each other and did not know it.
He says he intends to spend this vacation in visiting Darvel and seeing as many of his Father's relations as he can find out. Make our kindest regards to all your family. Say to Robert with my love that I consider it unnecessary to write to him individually as I just address you as a family. We shall all be glad to hear from you soon.
I am, Dear Brother and Sister,
H.Young to Alexander Shields dated Laurieston (Falkirk) Nov. 26th, 1851
Dear Brother & Sister,
His own people almost idolize him, and whenever he is called to preach, he commands a large audience: but he is a miserable correspondent and I cannot promise you much from him in that way. His Mother and Sisters all complain of him; indeed it is like pulling an eye tooth to get a letter Drawn out of him, except on business. I met him in Synod beginning of October, and as I learned that he had not written, I determined to do so myself, but my engagements for the last month were such as to render it inconvenient, but I had resolved to write by this Mail, although I had not heard from you. Though I did not write I can truly say I was not unmindful of you, for scarcely a day ever passes without you being present in my mind. Having thus (Old Adam like) endeavoured to throw the sin a little off my own shoulders, I must end my apology.
It always gives us great pleasure and satisfaction to learn that you are well and enjoying the comforts not only of this life, but that you are also favoured with the ordinances of grace, and it must be a source of great comfort to you to see your family all walking in the truth, and that one of them has the prospect of serving God in the holy ministry. There were two students from America attending Professor Symington during last Session of Hall. One of them I think is already licensed. Would your son not think of coming over and availing himself of a similar privilege. I am sure he might spend a season very profitably in old Scotland and I know many would be glad to see him. I saw lately in an account of one of the sections of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America that a Mr. Shields Student of divinity, has with some other been examined, but as he was said to belong to the "General Assembly Presbyterian Church," I could not determine whether it was my Nephew or not. At our late meeting of Synod there was with us a Mr. or Dr. Wilson from Cincinnati, but as there was some doubt as how he stood with regard to the Synod he had been connected with, hew was only asked as a matter of Courtesy to sit among us, without taking part in the business of Synod.
For the last twelve months my own general health has been considerably improved, though not in a very satisfactory state. I am obliged to use medicine almost weekly to prevent giddiness and bile. My sight continues much the same; I have entirely lost the sight of one eye for several years, and I am ordered by the most celebrated occulists to give as much ease as possible to the other, lest it also should fail me. For a long time the weak eye gave me little uneasiness and in appearance could scarcely be distinguished from the other, but for some months past it has been much subject to inflammation, and sometimes for a day or two, I find it necessary to abstain from reading or writing altogether or nearly so. The time is passing away, and I look forward with hope to the time when the old Tabernacle shall be taken down, in order to be reared up again, "fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body."
Matters do not prosper well in the Congregation. I think I mentioned to you formerly a most distressing case of discipline what occurred among us in
1848, and it still has an injurious influence. The congregation, which was always small was much hurt by it. I could not avoid taking part with what I considered the injured party, and of course got much illwill from the other party; a number left us, and some are likely never to return. Still, I am happy to say that no fault was ever found with my preaching, nor so far as I know, was there ever an insinuation thrown out affecting my moral character. And in worldly circumstances I am more easy at present than at any time former period: Though the Congregation is not able at present to support me liberally, yet Providence has raised up for us many kind friends, and we have had several Boarders which are a great help to us. The Gentleman who was with us upwards of twelve years left in the Spring of /50; but we very soon got a Lady in his place and we have two young ladies who have been with us for a length of time for their education.
Mary remains with us, to assist her Mother, and teaches the Two Misses who board with us. Thus you see that all our family, (six in number) are employed in teaching in one department or another; I earnestly pray that God may bless their labours, and make them all instrumental in winning souls to Christ. Their Mother and I have certainly much cause for gratitude to God who enabled us to give them an education fitting them for the honourable places in society which they now occupy.
Your sister Mrs. Woodburn is still in life so far as I know. I called for her in the course of last year; she was frail and complained of want of sight, but otherwise in ordinary health. She lives with Gaven Lawsen her Son in Law and Daughter, and they seemed to be in comfortable circumstances. If I remember right, Mrs. Dow was keeping some person's house near Loudon and John Shields was said to have a charge about the parks and plantations connected with the Castle. At the same time I am not sure if I heard any thing of them since I last wrote you. James Dow is still in India. His wife wrote to the War Office some time ago, and learned that he had survived the dreadful Destruction of human life occasioned by the late wars in that country. He wrote once after the first engagements he had been in, and promised to send a little money to assist his children, but she never heard more from him. There is reason to fear that the army has not much improved his habits. His wife is one of my dearest earthly friends and I think an eminent Christian. She has now left the office of Matron in Paisley Jail and has got a much more desireable situation in a "House of Refuge" near Liverpool. Her daughter is with her, and her Son is in a stationer's shop in Edinburgh. I saw him on Monday last. When she left Paisley a meeting of a number of Ladies and of the respectable inhabitants was held and she was presented with upwards of Twenty volumes of valuable books as a token of respect for her Christian Character and usefulness.
The surviving members of Our family are much as they were. William Young is now very aged and frail, yet is able to wait upon the ordinances, he wife also survives. John of Meadowfoot is now also putting on the appearance of old age. He, his Son and family still prosper at Meadowfoot, but I often fear that the world has too great a hold of their affections. Helen and her husband William Hamilton now live at Kilbride. They left their place at Stobbieside, and commenced a small store or shop at Kilbride for the purpose of helping forward a little their two Grandchildren, the Rankens who came home from America. Christina and her husband James Hamilton and family continue were they were and are now prospering very much in the world. But they have had severe family affliction. You are aware that their eldest Daughter Ann died a considerable time ago after long affliction, which she bore with great Christian patience. The had much comfort at her death. About the end of June last, their next oldest daughter Christian also died. She was seized with stoppage in the Bowels, and consequent inflammation. She had very sore trouble which soon brought her down.
I saw her at the commencement of her trouble, but she was not then thought to be dying. The funeral letter followed me in a few days, at which I was much surprised. Their Oldest son
William is still delicate, but he has been better a good deal this last summer. Their third Son
James made a respectable marriage just a few days before his Sister took her troubles. He had got a farm near his father. I think our Sister
Christina a well disposed person and she bears her affliction in a Christian Spirit. C's death was a heavy stroke to her Mother; she was a strong healthy young woman, and too the charge of their very large dairy consisting of about 30 cows.
The crops this year I think are, in generally, fully an average. The mysterious potatoe disease still prevails here as with you; it is supposed that about a third part of the crops this year may be lost, but as considerable breadth was planted and the crop plentiful, they are as yet moderate in price. The summer with short intervals of extreme heat was cold and the harvest late, but as the weather during harvest and since was unusually fine, all was got well secured. I was glad to hear good accounts of Mr. Henderson; he was an intimate acquaintance of mine and has sometimes assisted here. I shall never as long as I am able, give up my correspondence with you, and I hope that Alexander may see it to be both a privilege and a duty to write occasionally to your son; I shall again remind him of his duty ere long.
Having now nearly filled my paper, and exhausted my news, I must come to a conclusion. In you next let me know particularly to what stage
Robert has advanced in his studies, when he expects to take license to preach, and whether I may ever expect to see him or any of you in
Scotland. O that we may all meet at last in the better country where separation is unknown and where uninterrupted fellowship with God and with each other, shall be the position of all the blessed inhabitants for evermore.
Mrs.. Young and Mary unite with me in the most sincere regards to you both and all the members of your family. Excuse this very ill written and imperfect letter, and with earnest Desire for your every good, I am, Dear Brother and Sister, your affectionate Brother,
Hugh Young to Alex Shields dated Laurieston (Falkirk) July 7th, 1852
Dear Brother & Sister,
You will see that the business at first assumed rather a serious aspect. Our Friends in the West requested me to take the management of the matter, and to get it settled as advantageously as possible. I immediately went to
Edinburgh and was so fortunate as to get the gratuitous advice of a particular friend who is eminent in the legal profession. I got access to the man who is at the head of the office in
Edinburgh, whom I found to be truly a Gentleman in the best sense of the word. He stated that at one time such matters were not very strictly looked after, but that the Government had found out such a vast number of cases either of fraud or mismanagement on the part of Country Lawyers that they had now gone to the opposite extreme, and had become almost as bad as the Spanish Inquisition only that the one tormented the purse whilst the other tormented the back.
Now, Dear Friends, I have not forgotten, and I never can forget, the kindness you showed me, when I lived with you a part of the summer before I was licensed, and I hesitated long whether or not I would make the above statements to you, but ultimately thinking it was due to you to give a statement of the case, and in the full belief that you are now in easier circumstances than I am, I have written as you read above. As to a remittance or of what kind I leave entirely with you. If necessity does not require it, I shall never again say you owe me.
You will be sorry to hear that your Sister in Law, My Dear Wife, has for a length of time in a very poor state of health. In the month of November last she had a slight shock of Paralysis. It did not affect her body beyond a slight numbness in her right arm and side, but it deprived her for a time of the power of articulation and has greatly affected her recollection. A considerable time after she had a second shock, when she was severely bled, and being much under the influence of Medicine, she is very weak. She is however improving, walks out a little and can look a little after the house, which is a great comfort. She has little or no suffering, her chief defect is in getting at the word or expression she wishes to use. She can read a little, and I hope is suitably exercised under her afflictions. The rest of the family are all well, and prospering at present. We anticipate some changes among them ere long, but as we met with painful disappointment on a former occasion, I shall say nothing now till the will of Providence be declared.
I was truly grieved to learn when lately at Darvel that Alexander had never written to your Robert. I gave him a hearty scolding but what effect it may have I know not. Give my very kind regards to Mr. Robert, tell him to write me at his Leisure the progress of his studies &&. and if my son does not write him I shall, if I can hold a pen or see the paper before me….
As to myself, I may say that I am not very strong, and my sight though weak is not sensibly worse for some time. We had little or no business of importance at our late meeting of Synod, beyond the reports of Committees on Missionary operation &c. We have most delightful weather at present and there is the prospect of an abundant and early harvest. The country is not in a prosperous state at present, and the number who are emigrating to America and Australia &c are altogether unprecedented. I read a day or two ago that 1800 were waiting at Liverpool for shipment. And two weeks ago, the applications at an office in Edinburgh for passage to Australia were at the rate of five hundred per day. Excuse this very ill written and dull letter, my eye fails when I write long. Let us hear from you soon. All here unite in kindest regards to yourselves and family. I am your affectionate brother, Hugh Young.
TO MR. ALEXANDER
Hugh Young, second letter of Sept. 16, 1852 to Alexander Shields.
It is likely that long ere now you have got Mr. Erskine's letter of acknowledgement -- at any rate, the above will show that all is right. I was sorry to learn that your Son Robert had not been so well for some time. He ought to go home and take ease and rest both of body and mind for a considerable period. Fatigue and anxiety both tend to nourish his complaint. You do not say to what stage he has arrived in his studies, or whether he has yet received License to preach.
I am grieved to say that my Dear Wife has not made the progress which we anticipated when I last wrote you. She has had no new attack, and her bodily strength is nothing worse but her mind continues weak, and her power of utterance is not improved. She is very nervous, timid, and easily agitated. She rises generally about midday goes out for a considerable time when the state of the weather permits, and sits up till after Evening worship. She wishes to be much in prayer, and to have the Scriptures and other helps read to her, so that I hope she is by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit preparing for a better world. May we all realize the sanctified use of affliction. We need your sympathy and prayers.
I posted for you the Falkirk Herald of this day fortnight past, from which (if it has arrived) you will have observed that our eldest Daughter Margaret was married on the 31st Augt. to a Mr. Mathie Merchant, Glasgow. He was in business in Kilmarnock till Whitsunday last, when he came to Glasgow. I do not know much of him personally, but all we have heard of his religious and business habits is favourable. The family have long been connected with our Church. The Father is dead, but the Mother and family occupy a large Farm in the parish of Riccarton. They lived at one period not far from Galston, and probably you may remember the old people. The are nearly related to the Lindsays of Tayburn. Christina and Elizabeth continue to conduct the Establishment at Kilmarnock. Janet remains alone at Old Cumnock and Mary is at home.
We have had unusually warm weather, and a fine harvest and a very abundant crop is nearly secured. In general, however, the Potatoes, which at one period were very promising, have become completely diseased. I shall not be able to preserve a seed in my whole garden. A Bank Check is I think quite a safe way of transmitting money between the two countries. As the payment of letters before hand is now optional, I did not pay my last, under the idea that though a paid letter may be equally safe with an unpaid one, yet should the letter be lost, the postage would be saved. I shall pay this in return for your last. Remembering nothing farther of importance, I shall now conclude this short and very ill written scrawl. Anna and Mary unite with me in Sincere Christian regards for yourselves and your family. I ever am your affectionate Brother,
H. Young to Alexander Shields May 12, 1853 from Laurieston by Falkirk.
We had the Communion of Sabbath week past, and had immediately to set off for Glasgow to attend the Meeting of Synod which commenced on Monday, the Second. The Sacrament passed over very comfortably; I was assisted by Alex.r and a Mr. Morrison, a native of this village now settled at Ekdalemoor and Ettrick. We were favoured with good and suitable discourses from them, and I trust good has been done. We were all glad to learn that yourselves and your family were well, and prospering at the time you last wrote, and that Mr. Robert's health was so far restored as to enable him to take a situation, and that he had got one so favourable. I sincerely hope he finds himself comfortable, and able to be useful to himself and others. I should like to know his particular state of advancement, whether he has yet been licensed, or when he expects to be so.
My Dear Wife is still spared to us, but she has not improved during the winter and spring. She continues very weak, and I fear has been rather losing strength of late. Her recollection and power of conversation continue much the same. She gets up about Midday and can in general sit up till ordinary bed time, and can walk, read, sew and knit a little, and can go through the house and see that all things are kept in proper order. She went out to Church on the afternoon of the Fast day and Saturday and was in hope to enjoy the ordinance of Our Lords Supper, but the fatigue had been too great, and she was disappointed. She got so unwell on Saturday night and Sabbath morning that she was unable to go out. She was however so far recovered on Monday that I felt warranted to go off to Synod. She however got very unwell on Monday night and was so ill on Tuesday that Mary and others about her got greatly alarmed and wrote immediately for me to come home. She is rather improving, but is still very weak. I had an attack of Rheumatism during winter, and a rather severe cold a few weeks ago, otherwise I have enjoyed health since I last wrote you, and have been enabled to go on with my work in the ordinary way. Our family are all well at present, and enjoying a measure of prosperity, for which we have great thankfulness.
I have heard little of our relations of late. Uncle William, though frail is going about, and able to attend church, John of Meadowfoot I am told has fallen off greatly this winter, and has seldom been at church. I am expected to assist at Darvel on the Second Sabbath of June when I will likely see Mrs. Woodburn and other relations, and any thing worth communicating may be noticed, should I be spared to write again. I have almost nothing to communicate from Synod (as I expected) being recalled from it so abruptly. Our Missionary reports are now more cheering, both from New Zealand and from one of the South Sea Islands, where we have a Mr. Ingles labouring with success. The Church at home has rather gained than lost during the last two years, notwithstanding the strong tide of Emigration, by which all churches have suffered, and several congregations in other bodies have been broken up.
About a year ago a report reached me that
Alexander Young of England, had or was about to sell off all and to Emigrate; that he and his brother were about to realize some money left by a relation of their Mother's in
London, but how much it was and wither he has gone, I have never heard; and it may be I never will.
Mrs. Young and Mary unite with me in most affectionate regards to yourselves and all the members of your family. I am, Dear Brother & Sister, Your affectionate brother, Hugh
Young. TO: A. Shields, East Craftsbury, Vermont, N. America.
Hugh Young to A.Shields June 27, 1855 From Laurieston by Falkirk.
Dear Brother & Sister,
I wish you saw the Report of our last meeting of Synod, published in the June No. of our Magazine, as the Reports of the different Committees; I think would convince you that yet there are not a few talented and labouring and faithful men in the Ref'd Presbyterian Church in Scotland. During Spring I had a return of the bilious complaint, and was so long under the influence of Medicine, that my strength was greatly reduced. I still feel a weakness in my limbs, and cannot make long journeys at the time, otherwise I am in good health, and more vigourous than for a considerable time past.
My Dear wife who enjoys at present pretty good health, is quite active in looking after household matters, but she has not, (and probably never will) regain perfect recollection, and the full power of utterance. She is however much better and stronger than I ever expected to see her. Our family at present are all well, and enjoying a measure of prosperity. Margaret and her husband are well, and have a fair business in Glasgow. They have now two very fine boys, Thomas & Hugh Young. Alexander is still unmarried, and so far as I know retains his popularity at Darvel. Christina and Janet are now in Paisley, and have a prosperous school there. Elizabeth the youngest, is at present here with us. Their Mother requires the assistance of one of them as we have still two Boarders.
About two years ago, I alluded to the probability of a friend being in New York and might take a run to see you. I had in view, our own daughter Mary. A young man, Mr. William Hardie, to whom she was espoused, went out to New York, and was succeeding in business very well, and arrangements were fully made for her going out to him, when his health failed, and after lingering on for a time, he was advised to return to Scotland which he did. He soon recovered and got into a good situation at the Carron Iron works, and they were married a considerable time ago, and live about three miles from us. They at present are well, and we see them almost weekly.
In your letter you mention that My Dear Sister had frequent ailments, and that there had been also affliction in your family otherwise. Especially you mention the case of Agnes, besides her own personal affliction, the loss of their Twins would be a great trial to her. "Whom the Lord Loveth he Chasteneth." "O may we rank among those whom he corrects for their profit, that they may be partakers of his holiness." We were truly glad to learn that your family otherwise were well and prosperous, and that you were increased to a goodly number. It is also pleasing to find that you have been able to make such an arrangement of your property as left you comparatively at ease in your advanced years. I suppose by this time Mr. Robert will be licensed, and a more popular preacher than you seemed to expect.
In my letter to your son, I stated that, so far as I was aware the only change among near relations, since the death of our Dear Sister Christina, was that of her son William who had been in a Delicate state of health. I have now to state that our very worthy Xtian Brother William died on Sabbath May 6th at the advanced age of 90. He was a lively Christian, I went and saw him very shortly before his death, and was greatly Delighted, and I trust edified by his conversation. In him, Alexander has lost a sincere friend and a wise counsellor. The funeral took place during the sitting of Synod, I could not attend it, but I exchanged with Alex the following Sabbath, and endeavoured to improve the event by preaching to the Congregation and relations from the words of the Apostle Peter where, speaking of Christ as a "Chief Corner Stone, Elect, precious"… He says I Eph.1:7, "Unto you therefore who believe he is precious."
Of Alexander Young, England, I heard nothing for a long time, but his Brother John was with us a few days lately, and he says Alexander did not succeed in Farming, and that he is now in business in NewCastle upon Tyne. He says he has a grocer's Shop and he thinks is doing well. They got lately each about Six hundred pounds left by a relation of their Mother's, long in London. There is something far from dutiful in Alexander, he never writes to a relation, notwithstanding what I and other did for him. John is a strange person, you are aware that at one time he was quite a profligate, one of a gang of strolling play actors. He was afterwards a Teacher; then for a time a Methodist preacher, then a Teacher again. He is now travelling for an extensive Manufacturing Company in New Castle. He is said to be now very steady and getting up in the world. He is at present occupying his leisure time in Studying Prophecy and speaks with as much confidence of the progress and issue of the present war, and of the Downfall of Popery and Mohammedanism as if he had been a Disciple of John in the Island of Patmos. When here lately, he spoke and prayed like one under the influence of the truth. May it be so… .
I think I mentioned in a former letter that Helen Young had left Paisley, where she was for several years honourably and usefully employed as Matron of the County prison and had gone to Liverpool to be Matron of a house of refuge, where she has less charge and larger pay, and every way a better situation. I think her an Eminent Xtian most useful and beloved by all who have the honour of their acquaintance. Her son and daughter are both in Liverpool -- steady, excellent young persons. Their father, James Dow, so far as is known, is still alive in the army (East Indies). She never hears from him unless it has been since her last letter to me.
Old Meadowfoot is getting frail, but was enjoying health, and was able to be at Church when I was in Darvel in May. William Hamilton and Aunt Helen were here a few nights lately; they were both wonderfully well and vigorous. I believe our Church in Scotland is not increasing much at present, but she is not losing, which few, if any of the other churches can say. There has of late been so much Emigration that most of the Churches are greatly reduced in numbers. Our country congregations are generally smaller, but those in the large towns have greatly increased. Business is the idol of the day, and the most of our young go to the towns to pursue it. This congregation is greatly reduced, and were it not for our Boarders we could not make a living. But I trust that He who has brought us thus far, will not leave us, "when overtaken by old age."
The present most destructive war [The Crimean War--"Charge of the Light Brigade" et cet.] still goes on, and I fear, we are only at the commencement of it. The investigation by a Committee of the House of Commons shows that there has been fearful mismanagement, and that the lives of thousands of our best Soldiers have been sacrificed by the negligence of those who should have anticipated their wants.
Do not be long in writing our opportunities can now be few. Tell me how Robert gets on. He might write soon himself. Anne and Elizabeth join me in Sincere Xtian regards to you both and your family and theirs. Your affectionate brother, Hugh Young.
Hugh Young to Alex. Shields, dated Laurieston Aug.t 13nth, 1856.
I would have written you immediately in return, but had it not in my power. Since I received your letter, I have been three several Sabbaths assisting at a distance, and on one of them I had the charge of the Communion in a vacant congregation. But a more formidable obstacle often crosses my path and lays effectual restraint upon me. You are aware that some years ago, I lost (through Disease) the sight of my right eye. For a long time it gave me almost no pain, but of late it is otherwise. It is now very much subject to inflammation, and when I read or write for a length of time together, the pain becomes so great, and the discharge of water from the eye so large that I am put to a stand till I get a sleep or a lengthened period of rest. The consequence is there are weeks when I can write no more than is absolutely necessary to get over the Sabbath with a measure of propriety; and I am glad to say that so far as I know my public labours, both here and elsewhere are acceptable, although I have reason to apprehend that the close of my public usefulness is not far distant. Beyond what I suffer from my eye, my general health is pretty good, and when I can give it ease I do not suffer much from it; and it is a matter of great thankfulness that the sight of the left eye is not worse, but rather improved.
I am happy to say that Mrs. Young has had good health all last winter and up till the present time, and is better and more active than at one time we ever expected to see her. Her recollection is never fully recovered, and she is sometimes a little defective in utterance, though otherwise she is well and her mind quite vigorous. Our family so far as we know are all enjoying health, and a measure of outward prosperity, and with one or two exceptions are in similar circumstances as when I wrote you last year.
Mary and her husband (William Hardie) have a fine stout little boy. They live about three miles distant, and he has a very good situation at Carron. Margaret and her husband (John Mathie) are still in Glasgow. Their Second little boy (Hugh Young, My name-son) died at New Year day last; he was for a time a fine healthy child and gave indication of great strength of mind, but he caught cold, which so affected his lungs that his strength gradually wore away till death ensued. Whether from the name or otherwise, I was greatly attached to him, and his death very deeply affected me. Their other boy Tommy is a healthy stirring little fellow, and I fear since his brother's death has been rather too much indulged especially by his father.
Alexander had Rose [Erysipelas] in the face in May last and for four Sabbaths was laid aside from preaching. He is now quite well, and so far as I can judge from observation, the congregation at Darvel continues to prosper. He is still unmarried, but he has intimated to us that he intends to get married soon, and the person of his choice is a Miss Helen Reid, grand daughter to old Mr. Reid Late of Newton Stewart, and her Mother is sister to the Late and present Professor Symington [of Paisley?]. Her Father, Mr. James Reid, has been in Glasgow for forty years, and has for a long time been an extensive Iron Merchant, and is said to have amassed great wealth. They have just two Daughters, the Elder one is already married to a Son of the Late Rev. Mr. Fairley of Glasgow. I have long been intimate in the family, and have reason to believe that Helen herself is a very well educated, amiable, and pious young woman. Should the marriage take place, the connection will be highly respectable. I understand the young people themselves are for this marriage in October; but as they live in the country, and Mr. Reid is in business all day in Glasgow, Mr. Reid fears the loneliness of the dreary months of Winter, and would wish it put off till March.
Christina and Elizabeth are in Paisley and are getting on very well with their Boarding and Educational establishment. The have their vacation at present, and are here with us.
Janet, for the last twelve months, has been at home assisting her Mother, but we are made to understand that she is likely to leave us about the end of this year. It appears that when at Old Cumnock where she taught for some years she gained the affection of a Mr. White, a young man of a respectable family in the place, and who has since become the Manager of the Branch of the Royal Bank there; and as he has a house in connection with the Bank, he wishes the marriage about Christmas. These things, however, are only in prospect, and we may meet with disappointments: we have met with them ere now, and may have to meet them again. [All, in fact, worked out]
I have heard of no particular change our relations in this country since I last wrote you. Brother John of Meadowfoot is getting rather infirm, and has fallen very much off this season. I saw him in Church and spoke with him in May. I preached in Darvel last month. His son said he was not able to be out that day, and as I had to leave on Monday, I did not see them. There is a throng young family again at Meadowfoot: I think three sons and three daughters. I saw also Sister Helen in May. She and her husband William Hamilton were then in health; they now live at Browncastle near their eldest son William, who is a very prosperous Farmer in that place.
Our Sister Christina's family are getting married and are dispersing about their neighborhood, but I have to some extent lost sight of them since their Mother's death, so far as I know they are all respectable and prospering. When lately at Darvel I entirely forgot to enquire for your Sister Mrs. Dow, but so far as I know she is still alive and I think keeps house with some person at Galston or Loudon. Her Daughter in law, Helen Young is still in Liverpool; Matron in a house of Refuge, and is exceedingly respected. In their annual report lately published in a Newspaper, her management and usefulness were spoken of in terms of highest admiration. Her son and daughter are both in Liverpool. Janet is rather delicate, but was rather stronger of late. She and her Mother were in Scotland in June, but had not time to come this length. John is in a good situation in Liverpool, and as he is a very steady young man, I hope he will get "a head" as you Americans say.
The part of your letter respecting your Son Robert I read with deep interest. It appears he has met with opposition which I hope will be overruled for his good, and that he will prove an able and faithful minister of the Gospel. As you do not say what his views respecting Geology were, that were objected to, of course I cannot say whether they were right or wrong. The study of Geology has not hitherto been considered as essential in this country, in as much as our Students and Preachers are not examined upon it; At the same time I think it an important and interesting study, and highly useful to a Minister. The construction of the earth, the variety, the formation, and the properties of its immensely varied strata, all manifest forth the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of the Creator, as much if not even more than what we behold upon its surface. A few years ago some pretenders to Philosophy (But falsely so called) attempted to overturn the Mosaic account of the creation, and hence the inspiration of the Divine record; but the attempt only brought into the field of controversy a few Master Minds who have fully proved the truth of the scripture account, and that it is perfectly in accordance with all the discoveries of modern science.
Had Mr. Wilson, your late Minister, no previous grudge at Robert, which might lead him to take advantage of a doubtful expression? But I write in ignorance, except what your letter states. I shall be most glad to hear that Robert soon obtains a fixed charge, and is prospering in the work of the Ministry. The letter of your Synod's Committee dated June 1st 1855 Together with the duplicate copy of a letter dated May 1853 which never officially reached us, were read in our last meeting of Synod, and an answer has been sent, which I hope may prove satisfactory, and tend to provide the friendly intercourse which has so long been maintained between the two churches. I think the predominant feeling here is in favour of your branch of the Church, at the same time when Ministers from the other branch come over certified as good, talented, and holy men, and who say that they adopt without exception our Testimony, many of the Brethern here do not see why they should be excluded from their Pulpits. And I am perfectly sure that should any of your Ministers honour us with a visit, they would be most cordially received. I really wish some of them would come and attend a meeting of our Synod, and then judge, whether we have departed from the Standards of the Covenanter Church. I met lately with a Mr. McAlley of Philadelphia, who I understand has preached in some of the Pulpits in this country.
We have had rather a cold and wet season till of late. I learn there is generally an abundant crop on the ground, but the harvest will be late. Excuse the very many blunders in this hasty Epistle. Confine it to your own family, it is not for the public Eye. Be sure to write soon again. Our opportunities cannot now be many. All here unite in kindest regards to you both and to all the members of your family.
Hugh Young to Alex. Shields dated Laurieston, Falkirk April 17, 1857
I am happy to say that we are all in an ordinary measure of health at present. Mrs. Young has stood the winter and spring remarkably well, and may be said to have enjoyed good health. She is quite active, can knit and sew, and look after the affairs of the household, but never fully recovers her speech. We can always make out what she says, though strangers are sometimes at a loss. My weak, or rather blind eye, troubles me a good deal, and gets inflamed when I read or write long at a time. But the other one is no worse, and enables me to go on much in the usual way, as to the discharge of public duty, though I now feel considerable infirmity particularly in walking. But the end of the journey is Drawing near.
By the Falkirk Herald you heard of Janet's marriage. Mr. White is a writer and has the management of the Branch of the Royal Bank at old Cumnock, and I think, a very good, well principled young man. You mention that you had also heard of Alexander's marriage. I may mention that his wife is a Grand Daughter of Old Mr. James Reid who was Minister in Galloway and Brother to the Rev. John Reid of Laurieston. Her own Father, Mr. James Reid came to Glasgow upwards of Forty years ago, and has been very successful in business, and is supposed to be wealthy. Her mother is sister to the Late and present Professor Symington. And she herself is, we think, a very excellent and good well educated Young Woman. We all think Alex has been very judicious in his choice of a wife and has been well directed. I hope it will tend to increase his usefulness. Mrs. Mathie and Mrs. Hardie and their families are much as they were. I think Mary (Mrs. Hardie) had a Daughter since I wrote you last. Christina, with an assistant, carries on the Establishment at Paisley, and are succeeding remarkably well. Elizabeth came home at the time of Janet's Marriage to assist her Mother and to conduct the Education of two or three young Female Boarders which we have.
When lately at Darvel, I went as far as Meadowfoot where there is again a large thriving young family. I found our Brother John in good bodily health, but very infirm, much Bowed down, and very hard of hearing, and I fear too much attached to this present world. The day became exceedingly stormy and I was unable to go to Brown Castle [almost 4 miles of narrow steep road] where our Sister Helen and her Husband now reside with their Oldest Son William. I heard there, that Helen was not very well, being afflicted with Difficulty in breathing. I have heard nothing of them since. And of James Hamilton and his family, I have heard very little for a long time.
I am very sorry that you have had the gospel so seldom preached to you of late, but hope you may be successful ere long in getting another minister, "to go out and in before you, and to break the bread of life among you." It would doubtless be a great comfort to you in your old age, to have a pious faithful and affectionate Minister calling occasionally upon you, and addressing to you a word in season. Since I last wrote you, there have been important and solemn changes in our Church in Scotland. On the 6th of November last, the Rev. Dr. Bates of Glasgow was removed by death and in a few days after both the Rev. Robert Winning of Eaglesham and Rev. Mr. McKinlay of Renton were called to rest from their labours. They were all three much respected in the Church, and very useful and Labourious. Dr. Bates was especially so being secretary of our Missionary Committee and conducted the Missionary correspondence. During the last year a number of young men have been licensed to preach the Gospel, and we had several ordinations. A Mr. Berry who joined our Church from the original Seceders some years ago, has been placed at Wick, a town in the far North of Scotland. Alexander McLeod Symington, youngest son of Professor William Symington, has been ordained at Dumfries left vacant by Mr. McDiarmid coming to Glasgow. And a Mr. Ramage has been ordained at Kilmarnock. A Mr. Bates, Nephew of the late Dr. Bates, has accepted a call to New Cumnock and will likely be ordained soon after the meeting of Synod. Dr. Symington's congregation -- Glasgow -- have called his eldest son (presently at Castle Douglass) to be his assistant and successor; this will be determined at the Synod. The congregation at Renton have called a Mr. Hamilton, one of our Preachers, and the congregation in Glasgow vacant by the Death of Dr. Bates are on the eve of calling the same person, which being competing calls from different Presbyteries will fall to be presented by Synod.
Last summer was cold and wet, and the harvest was late, and I learn that the quality of the different kinds of grain is rather inferior, but there was a great bulk on the ground, and as there have been heavy importations the prices have been falling. We have had rather a disagreeable winter. The weather has run in extremes. We had most intense frost sometime and during March unusually heavy rains; there is now an improvement, and the sowing is advancing.
It is true your American States are far from being in a satisfactory condition, I mean on the question of slavery. I sincerely trust that truth and justice will gradually prevail, and that without the horrors of revolution and extensive bloodshed the cause of freedom may be successful.
I hope you will write me again ere long, and say to your son Robert that I shall be most glad to have a letter from him, and I will attempt to give him a reply, even at the risk of laying myself open to the charge of unfaithfulness. As I remember nothing more that would be interesting to you at present, and as my sight fails me, as the hand writing abundantly indicates, I shall conclude at this time.
As you could easily command the time and the Means might you not take a summer's jaunt and see Old Scotland and the few relations that are yet spared? The tear drops from my eye when I write that I would go far to see my Dearest Sister. Mrs. Young and Bessie write in kindest regards to your selves and all the members of your family.
With sincere Christian affection, I am Your loving Brother,
Hugh Young to Mr. Alexander
March 9th, 1858
The funeral was very numerously attended, and as the greater number occupied carriages, the procession was very lengthened. I saw our Sister at the Funeral. She looked healthy and stout, but complains of inability to walk much. Her husband William Hamilton was als present, he is in good health, but wears very considerably the marks of age. James Hamilton was not present. He and the members of his family who remain with him had recently the Small Pocks, and though recovering, were not able to be out. Some of the other members of the family attended, and I had the pleasure of speaking with them.
I am happy to say that Mrs. Young continues to enjoy a good measure of bodily health, and is quite active in looking after household matters. She walked lately to Carren, a distance of 3 miles, and home the same day. She has never fully recovered the use of her speach, and memory. As to myself I have enjoyed a measure of health since I last wrote you, though I now feel considerably the effects of age, especially in walking. My memory also is becoming defective, yet I am still able to go on somewhat in the usual way. You are aware that years ago I lost the sight of one eye, but I am happy and thankful to say that the sight of the other has so much improved that I can read and write without glasses, and have not had them on in the Pulpit for a number of months. I suppose by the middle of July next I shall have finished my 70th year, and cannot hope to be long useful in the Church on earth. Oh to be in readiness for entering the Church above! I have been admonished of late both by lessons from without, and by Symptoms of weakness from within. For a number of weeks I have had frequent bleedings at the nose, for three mornings just now it has returned every morning. The loss of blood together with the use of Medicine leaves me weak.
I am truly sorry to say that Mrs. Mathie, our Eldest Daughter, is in a very precarious state of health. She had a Second fine boy died in September last. The child was long delicate, and as she had often to rise with him and sit up during the night, She caught a bad cold which has reduced her to a very weak and I fear dangerous state. However, she is no worse these two last weeks and the Doctor hopes that when the weather gets a little more mild she may yet recover. Their oldest boy survives and is a very fine and promising child. The other members of our family are all well as far as we know. Mary has now three children. She had a Second boy lately and they have named him Hugh Young.
A Mr. James Brown, one of our Preachers, rather an odd character, recently visited America, but soon returned. In the course of last summer he called on our Daughter Janet (Mrs. White) at Cumnock and among other things stated that he had met with Mr. Robert Shields, Preacher, and spoke favourably of him and said that Mr. Shields had made him understand that he was to visit Scotland and spend some time among his relations in the old country; we were of course all in the expectation of seeing him and had no doubt he would make the manse at Laurieston his home while in the country. For many weeks I expected a letter stating that he had sailed, or that he had landed on the coast of Scotland. Now whether ever Mr. Robert intended to visit Scotland, or whether it was one of Mr. Brown's day dreams, I do not know, but hitherto we have neither heard nor seen more of the matter. Should my worthy Nephew think of crossing the Atlantic, I shall be most happy to see him, and take advantage of his aid so long as he may be with us.
This is not the season for ecclesiastical News. With us things are much as they were. The great prosperity for several years in the Mercantile world operated injuriously upon all our country congregations, while it tended to increase those in the towns. Probably the late tremendous crash in Banks and business may arrest for a time the rush of both young and old to town.
A Reformed Presbyterian Congregation has lately been organized in
Dr. Graham, once at
Wishawtown, recently at
Ayr, has been called, and tomorrow is to be inducted and formally to take possession of
again as Covenanted Ground. Excuse this short and ill written letter, and be sure to write soon. Make our kindest regards to all the members of your family, and that your and our declining years may be abundantly sustained by rich communication from the Ane Glorious Head of all "in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell," is the sincere prayer of Your Affectionate and only surviving Brother,
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