Letters From Hugh Young from 1835 - 1846
Transcribed and contributed by Bruce P. Shields firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugh Young to Alexander Shields from
Laurieston by Falkirk
Alas! With a heavy heart, and with eyes streaming with tears I now turn to ourselves. On Wednesday the eight of April I committed to the grave the body of our Dear Anna Carslaw aged five years and seven months, and on Saturday the Eleventh of the same month just three days later (the day on which your letter arrived) I laid down beside her in the "narrow house" the remains of our Dear Jane aged Seven years and three months. Towards the end of March the Measles which were prevailing very much in this neighborhood, and which were exceedingly mortal, came into this family. Four of the Children were seized with them, they were all very ill: Christian and Mary have in the goodness of God been spared and are now quite recovered. Alexander and Margaret had them on a former occasion, Janet is in the Highlands with her Grandmother, and the Infant did not take them. I think I told you before of the Death of little Helen, the Younger of the twins. The two who have been lately removed from us were both very interesting and amiable children. Indeed they were considered singular Children by all who knew them. They had made very great advancement in their education, and showed a sagacity far beyond their years. They were beyond measure attached to each other, were constantly together, and were much concerned for each others' welfare. Indeed it may be said of them "They were in their lives and in death they were not divided."
Jane was a very beautiful child, her hair had a natural curl. Her complexion was a fine red and white, her features round and well proportioned. She was quick in her disposition and ardent in her affection. Anna C. was more robust in her person and had stronger features but was thought by all a very comely child. She was rather absent in her manner, was remarkably thoughtful and considerate and often astonished us with the shrewdness of her remarks. They are cone from the evil to come, I trust to be with their God and Redeemer and their fellow Redeemed sinners. They had been dedicated to God, they were the children of much earnest and I trust believing prayer. God's Gracious Covenant promise is "I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee." We have been brought into deep sorrow, but we sorrow not as those who have no hope. We had indeed much ground of comfort in their death. They were both singularly exercised in their affection considering their years. Often of their own will they repeated their Psalm and portions of the Scripture, and seemed always much pleased when we engaged in religious exercise with them. A little before Jane's death, when I was by her bedside, She shut her eyes and with an attempt to raise her feeble hand, began to move her lips; and when I applied my ear to her lips, I found her repeating the 121 Psalm, and on the 2 and 7 verses particularly she laid an emphasis which seemed to imply an understanding of the language and a sense of its suitableness to her situation. She thought herself dying, and not only spoke of it with composure but left some instructions to some of her particular friends.
There were several other deaths in the congregation at the same time, and I endeavored to comfort ourselves and many other mourners by two discourses from Jeremiah XXXI 16. Death has been making very great inroads among us this year, and in no ordinary ways. One head of a family became deranged, and was left to take away his own life, another was killed while engaged in loading a vessel down the Forth. Several children and Young people have also been taken away. May all these things be sanctified and be made a means of much spiritual good to survivors. The Congregation were proposing to build a manse for me this season but circumstances have thrown such a damp over them that there are doubts whether it will go on or no.
It gave me much pleasure to learn that your Society was on the increase and that your Minister promises to be a faithful, labourious and useful Pastor. May you long enjoy his labours, and may he have many for a crown of rejoicing to him in the day of the Lord Jesus.
You will be sorry also to learn of the Death of our Dear friend Janet Woodburn of Meadowfoot. This solemn event took place on the evening of Sabbath the 19th of April last. She was long in a weakly state and clearly foresaw her approaching dissolution, and was much exercised in reference to it. Her trouble was in the stomach and I believe she suffered a great deal. Her funeral took place on the week of our Synod, I could not attend, but I wrot a letter to John on occasion of the event. In my letter I gave orders that when any of the friends wrot you they should send the Address of Alexander Hamilton & f.li. William Hamilton and Brother Francis were at the Funeral of our Anna, and were present at the death of Jane. Circumstances prevented them from remaining to her funeral.
At that time all our other relations were in health as far as they knew, and they are all much in the same circumstances as when I wrote you last year. William Hamilton talks of taking his family to America, but he does not seem as yet very decided. Much will depend upon the Report of those of his family who have already gone. The congregation at Darvel is getting on prosperously, they are to build this summer a handsome new Meetinghouse. I learn the most of the money is already Subscribed. Mr. Rogerson has been very popular of late. Sometime last year he preached a course of Evening discourses on the Duty of the Magistrate in regard to religion from Rom XIII in opposition to the cry of Voluntaryism that now fills the length and breadth of this land, and he gave such satisfaction that the good people, especially many connected with the Church of Scotland, collected and made him and Mrs. Rogerson presents to the value of upwards of Forty pounds. Mrs. Rogerson I am sorry to say has been in a poor state of health for a considerable time, and about two weeks ago, had her breast cut for Cancer. I heard she was doing well since.
Mr. MacLachlan of Kilmalcolm lost his wife last week, I attended the Funeral on Friday. A Mr. Carmichael has been ordained at Penpont, a Mr. McDirmid has been called to Whithorn, Dumfries, and Dundee, and two preachers -- a Mr. Hannah & Mr. McIndoe brother to the present Minister at Chirnside have been licensed during the past year. At the late meeting of Synod the Committee appointed last year to examine documents and in regard to the unhappy differences between the brethern in America, produced a very able and in my view excellent report. As the minutes have not yet come to hand I cannot send you a copy of it, but the import of it was, "The Committee deplored the breach of peace and unity that has obtained; Condemned the dereliction of principle on the one hand, and the apparent tyrannical exercise of Church Discipline on the other; Suggested the propriety of both parties yet reconsidering the matter with a view to bring about an adjustment of differences and in the mean time did not come to any fixed determination in the case." The report was unanimously approved of and copies of it with accompanying letters were ordered to be transmitted to both parties in America and also to the Synod in Ireland.
In this country, the tide of Politics both civil and Ecclesiastical is running exceedingly high. With regard to the establishments the popular cry now is raze them to the foundations -- away with all connection between Church and state. As a Church we are standing aloof from both parties and are endeavouring to hold forth the truth on a foundation of our own, for while we approve of a religious establishment and cannot unite in the voluntary cry, we see also yet many corruptions in the establishments as they are, which require to be removed. The power of voting for members of Parliament which has been greatly enlarged in this country by the late reform bill has proved a severe trial to our Church. Some have voted because they think it is right to do so in supporting liberal Candidates, others have voted through intimidation from Landlords, and Customers, etc. which has given considerable trouble to the Church, but I am happy to say that the Ministers are all perfectly Unanimous and very firm in condemning the practice. We may lose a few members, but I think they will be comparatively few. I trust the continued firmness of the Synod will convince the people of the impropriety of any interference in the present state of things. To identify ourselves with the present constitution and government of the country would be in my view to lay aside the whole of the civil Reformation.
In November last I spent a few days in England at the house of my nephew Alexander. He has a very large establishment, he was will. I hear ____ since, he has option to give up his farm at the end of the year, and owing to the cheapness of grain, he was thinking of availing himself of the privilege. He is much liked in the country and is thought remarkably steady. He is still unmarried. He told me since he had promise of a considerable reduction of rent, tho' not just so much as he thought necessary. He was inquiring for you and desired his most affectionate regards. I was at Alnwick and visited the grave of Dear Brother James I Cor VII, 29, 30,31: [But this I say, brethern, the time is short; it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away. ] I must have a little space to Margaret & Alexander.
Dear Cousins, we were all much pleased with your kind remembrance of me, and if we are spared we will be glad to maintain a correspondence with you when we are more able. I have not been a school since before the birth of little Elizabeth which took place on the Ninth of January last. She is a fine stout baby. We have had great affliction in our family but it is the doing of the Lord, and we should be ready to say "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." We all feel the loss of our dear Sisters very much. With kind love to Uncle and Aunt and all of you, I am Your affectionate Cousin, Margaret Young.
Dear Cousins, I have been thinking the people in America learn very fast. You speak of being at school only a few months in winter. I have been at school these 4 years and yet you seem to have learned more than me. I am nearly through Gray's Arithmetic the second time. I study Geography, Grammar and Latin at present. I had a fever in Winter but am now quite well. My heart was very sore when Dear Jane and Anna Died. They were good children and we were all very fond of them. Death is very solemn and we should all seek to be prepared for it. Farewell. I am your affectionate Cousin, Alexander Young.
Christina was also wishing to write, and had two or three lines prepared, but I find I cannot afford room for her at this time; she promises to be a good scholar, and is a remarkably active child. She is worthy of her name: My Dear Partner was long very poorly before Elizabeth was born, but she had an excellent recovery, and is at present very healthy. We both had great fatigue and much Grief. For more than two weeks we scarcely had off our clothes. She has been most wonderfully supported, and I think bears the affliction better than I do. Let us have your sympathy and prayers.
Be so good as tell all the young people that I was much pleased with their letters. Give my thanks to Christian for her Church news. Tell Janet and Agnes to persevere and they will be excellent Scholars. Tell them all to seek God in their youth and they will doubtless find him. Say to William and Alexander that if they think of spending a winter in Scotland they are most welcome to make my house their home, and if a penny can be spared Alexander shall bear it with him as a keepsake when he goes away. Wishing you all well and hoping to hear from you again in time I am you affectionate Brother, love Hugh, Anna, and all the Children.
We have received several letters from
Mr. MacLachlan our Missionary at
Ramsay in Upper Canada. He seems to be getting on pretty well. He has now dispensed the Sacrament of the Supper twice, and on last occasion had fifteen joined with him which was a considerable accession. A
Mr. Montgomery one of our preachers, who has been long going about without getting a settlement is going out in a month or two to join the Church in America.
Hugh Young to Alex
Shields, dated Laurieston
September 28, 1837
Dear Brother and Sister &
In this family we number the same as when I wrote you in May 1835. In the summer of that year about four months after the death of Jane and Ann, Elizabeth our youngest was so very ill as to be given up by the Doctor, and thought dying by all who saw her for a considerable time. She was however in the merciful providence of God spared to us "That we might not have sorrow upon sorrow. [Phillipians 2:27] She is now a very stout thriving girl. The greater number of us had influenza last winter. I was long of recovering. Indeed, I scarcely feel even yet so stout as I was, though I have been always able to preach on Sabbath and to go through the congregation as usual. Influenza prevailed over the whole of this country last winter and was very mortal. Taking the county generally a much greater number were carried off by it than by Cholera.
In the spring of 1836 the Congregation with the help of a Legacy of £200 built an excellent Manse for us and we find it very comfortable. The congregation continues much as it was, we have had considerable accessions but death and removal to large towns for the sake of business take many from us. We hear occasionally from Ayrshire, rather indirectly than by letter. Friends were all well last accounts. And with the exception of Sister Janet who died more than a year ago, there has been no change among our near relations since I last wrote you. The young families are growing up and some additions making to them. I do not know how many. Francis had a young one last spring. I think he has six now. James Dow married Helen Young of Meadowfoot, he has since failed in business and is entirely dependant on his brother John. They live together.
Of the Shields family I know very little. When I assisted at Darvel last year, I saw them in attendance; and spoke with some of them, and when I last enquired at John Dow for them he said they were all in their usual way. You are aware that one of Mrs. Dow's sons is weak in his mind, he has for a long time been boarded in a place appropriated for such as he is. Alexander Young is still an English farmer. He left the Farm he first had, and took a still larger and better one in the same neighborhood. He married an English Lady upwards of a year ago. They came to Scotland and saw all their relations. She seems to be a very excellent and active person and it was reported she had a deal of money, but he gave us no particulars himself. I have only had one letter from him since, and do not know whether or not there is as yet any family.
Our Church in Scotland has for several years been enjoying a measure of peace, and the number of congregations have greatly increased. At the time of last Synod the number of ministers was thirty. Since that time the Rev. Mr. Fairley has been removed by death. We have also several vacancies and a few Preachers. The Rev. James Reid is still alive but has entirely given up preaching for a considerable time.
The extension of the Elective Franchise in this country of which you must have heard is likely to prove a severe trial to our Church. Some of our people are desirous of voting at Elections for members of Parliament and some have been urged to it by their Landlords contrary to their minds. As yet the Ministers have been pretty unanimous against the practice, and I trust will continue so, as long as the Political state of the country may render it sinful for us to be incorporated with it. For some time the Spirit of party has been carried very high in this country, and I fear will not soon, nor easily, be allayed. Whig and Tory are struggling for victory in the state, and Churchmen and Voluntaries are equally violent for the ascendency. And whilst these are contending with each other, Popery is rapidly spreading: and because we cannot join with any party we are reproached by all. Infidelity too, like a poisonous leaven, is pervading the whole mass of Society. And I greatly fear is along with other causes, preparing "This Land of Bibles" for some fearful scourge.
The Temperance cause has done some good here, but not so much as was expected, hitherto. Political excitement and the great Church agitation have been greatly against it. I am glad it still goes on in America. We are all Temperate in this family, and the greater number of the Congregation. We are sorry that the Church in America is not likely to have her breach soon healed. You seemed to blame us for being too favourable to what you call your New Light party. We by no means favour them and in 1836 our Synod distinctly condemned their views; but we did think and still do think, that both parties acted precipitantly, and that a little more deliberation, and more friendly expostulation might have been proper on both sides. If the minutes of our Synod of April 1836 have reached you, I have no doubt they would be satisfactory on the subject, and tend to encourage the minds of those who adhere to former attainments. I am truly sorry I have no opportunity of sending you documents of that kind.
In this country the times have been very trying. 1836 was cold and rainy or frosty throughout, and in a great part of Scotland the crops did not come to maturity at all. Many fields were standing out, and some not cut at the New Year. Last winter and Spring were also unusually cold and barren. At the beginning of June last everything had the most alarming appearance. There was scarcely any vegetation, and being connected with a total stagnation of Trade (of which America has had her share) the aspects of Providence were of the most alarming nature. The price of all kinds of provisions have been very high, work was not to be had and the poor of course have suffered severely. Trade is now a little revived, but many are still idle. Since early in June we have had the finest summer that is almost remembered, and there is at present a very abundant crop, and in this neighborhood it is nearly all secured. The Lord has shown us what in justice he might do, and he is at present showing us what in mercy he will do.
It is my decided opinion, that with all our Bibles, and our Sermons, and our Schools and Sabbath Teaching, the moral and religious character of this country is rapidly sinking. The Spirit of Liberalism which political changes has fostered has had a most injurious tendency. By great numbers the ordinances of Grace are greatly neglected, and the Sabbath fearfully profaned. The thought of these things greatly reconciles me to the loss of my Dear children who have been taken away, and often makes me sad in regard to those who in all probability I must at no great distance of time leave behind me in a world of Sin and Temptation. Hitherto poor things they have been very dutiful both to their mother and myself and have got on well with their Education. Be so good as write us soon and let us know how all things goes with you. As the children are wishing to write to their cousins, I must conclude and leave a space for them. Anna and all the children join with me in Sincere regard for you all, and I am, Your very affectionate Brother, Hugh Young. Remember me kindly to your minister.
Dear Cousins, We were all very glad when we received your last letter to find that your were enjoying good health. We were all very much pleased with your letters which you wrote us and hope you will still continue to write a part in the letters which you may send us. I have been at the school during this summer and also Christina and Alexander. I am learning writing Arithmetic and French. I am nearly through Practice in Gray's Arithmetic. I hope you are all still in the enjoyment of good health. We have had very good weather all summer. The shearing is nearly all over in this country: and about the Kerse [Carse: the level muck soils bordering the Firth of Forth] the crops are almost taken in and in very good condition. Every thing was very dear in this place last winter: especially potatoes, which was very severe upon the poor people and it is a great reason for Thankfulness that there is the prospect of things being cheaper this winter. Since we last wrote you we have gone to a new house which was built for us about a year and a half ago, and we like it much better than the old one. It is a fair comfortable house situated on a hill above the village and has a pretty large garden. I would like very much to see you but the distance is so great I fear we will never see each other in this world unless some of you come over to see us and the rest of our Ayrshire friends. They were all well the last time we heard. Our little sisters Janet and Mary read together and are coming on pretty well. Little Elizabeth is very stout. She is a very old fashioned wee thing she says her questions pretty well and the most of the 23 Psalm which she repeats to Papa on the Sabbath nights. Cousin Alexander in England has got married to an English lady they came to see us on their marriage jaunt and we thought her a very nice person. Having told you all my news I will conclude with best respects to you dear Uncle and Aunt and I remain, Your Affectionate Cousin, Margaret Young.
Dear Cousins, With much pleasure I sit down to write you a few lines. I was glad to hear that you were all well. I have been at Falkirk School ever since I came home from England. I liked to stop in England very much. I was there about six months but not the time of harvest. Cousin
Alexander was always very throng, he had 7 pair of horses always working, besides 2 riding horses and a number of foals. He did not keep many milk cows, but a great number which he always got for fatening on grass and turnips. He often had about 40 pigs. The Farm was about 400 acres. But 3 days after I left there he went to a much nicer farm containing 625 acres some of which was in grass: when he went there he had a fine ploughing match which was a pretty sight to see about 120 ploughs and the horses all decked over with ribbons from head to tail. He has a nice house there and he has got married: The name of the place is
Newton by the Sea, near
Alnwick. It is a very rich soil, easily cultivated from the American Woods. Since we came to our new house we have go a nice garden which needed a great deal of work to make it good soil, it was so sandy. It is not so large as to keep a horse, 20 sheep or 15 cattle, nor is it able to raise 67 bushels of wheat or two hundred of oats or barley; but we have go a pig which is doing pretty well. I got a bantam Cock and two hens but they did not do; they scratched all the beds in the garden. We have go within doors a Cat and a bird but sometimes they do not agree. I am at present learning Latin and Book Keeping which are at present the only things principaly I attend to: all three of us go to the same school. I attend once a fortnight a young men's meeting of the Congregation which consists of about 20, one time about reads an Easy [essay]. I have read two in it. All the subjects are of a religious nature. We have an annual meeting every year which all of the members give a speach and it is concluded by singing a part of a Psalm. The people were very well pleased who were there. The two younger I give a lesson to now and then at home, which are doing very well. William spoke in his last letter of perhaps coming some time to see us, but here is a wide wide sea between us which is not easily crossed; railways and steam coaches are going on rapidly in Scotland but I am afraid that there will never be a steam Coach that will run between America and Scotland else we might see one another in Scotland again. I remain your truly,
Hugh Young to Alex Shields of
In this family we are all enjoying pretty good health at present, and have in general done so ever since the date of my last letter to you. I myself have been almost the only invalid in the family ever since that time. I have never been laid aside from duty, but I have been much troubled with a weakness in my back and often a good deal of pain, particularly after long walking or standing. I have also still the weakness in my eyes which I formerly mentioned, and which prevents the length of reading or writing at one time which other wise I might be disposed to indulge in. I have still with all these infirmities been enabled to discharge official duty in an ordinary way, and as far as I know, my people are not complaining. The number of the family is the same as when I formerly wrote. Margaret, Alexander, Christina, Janet, Mary, and Elizabeth. The three oldest are now very excellent scholars and the other three do pretty well considering their years. The breach that was made in the middle of our family makes a great disparity between the three oldest, and the three youngest. Margaret is now sixteen past, she is nearly as tall as her mother. She has always been distinguished for sedateness and amiable disposition. Alex.r now reads Latin and Greek pretty well. He has not yet determined whether he will go to College or betake himself to business. He must decide soon.
Christina is rather little of her age, and has been rather delicate. Her health has however greatly improved of late and she is also getting on well with her Education. Mrs. Young has always enjoyed excellent health, is very active, and but for the loss of two or three of her Front Teeth looks as fresh as ever she did.
The congregation continues very much in the same state as formerly. Our number is not diminished, and it is not much increased. Voluntaryism prevails very much in this quarter and the circumstance that our members are not allowed to vote for members of Parliament makes us unpopular. I suppose the same influence will also be felt with you. For upwards of a year we have had a Gentleman from the West Indies lodging with us. He is a very quiet and agreeable person, and gives us very little trouble. He pays us Seventy five pounds yearly for his board, which is a very great assistance in the meantime, and is enabling us to obtain a better and more extensive education for the children than that otherwise we could do. The Lord has hitherto been very kind to us for which we ought to be thankful.
From our friends in Ayrshire I very rarely receive a letter. They are very indifferent correspondents. I however hear from other respecting them. I am frequently at Glasgow, and I generally hear of them then, and sometimes I meet some of them there, and I see them all occasionally when I assist Mr. Rogerson at the Sacrament. At present they are all well so far as I know, and I have heard of no important changes among them for a long time past. Francis who is still in Leelone has now a throng family. The other families I think number much as formerly. There has been no death among brothers or sisters, or their families here, as far as I remember since my last letter. Of the Shields I know very little. I saw some of them when last at Darvel but that is some considerable time ago.
I am sorry to say that John Dow's family have been very unfortunate; James who married Helen Young of Meadowfoot has become very dissipated and failed in business. John gave up the Bookselling, and I suppose for the good of the whole family took a Farm in the neighbourhood of Campbelton, Camtyre and I am told that between James' dissipation and idleness and the dearth of the Farm they have lost nearly all they had. OH how fearful are the effects of Drunkenness? Whether they are still in that country I do not know. I heard that Brother John was thinking of taking Helen home again to Meadowfoot.
Our church in this country I think is upon the whole in a pretty prosperous condition. Some new congregations are rising up from time to time, and I think the old ones are keeping their ground. There have been great changes of late by death. Old Mr. James Reid, Mr. Fairly, Mr. Brown of Kilmarnock, Mr. Armstrong of Glasgow, and Mr. McMurtrie of Whitham have all died of late. We have at present a number of very talented young men as Preachers and the vacancies are filling up. Mr. McIndoe who left his congregation at Chirnside some time ago has been called to Kilmarnock, and a Mr. Marshall who was brought up in my congregation is to be ordained at Chirnside next week. I am sorry to say that the principle of Transportation has got in amongst us, and a Mr. Bates has been moved from Kelso and Dr. William Symington from Stranraer, both to Glasgow where there are now two congregations. I hope it is at an end for a time.
This country is at present in a very agitated state, particularly England. The Chartist or Physical Force men, are threatening rebellion, and in the Church, both in England and Scotland, the Church question (as it is called) is agitated with much bitterness both by Churchmen and voluntaries. Provisions have been very high, and there has been a good deal of distress, which has created discontent. There is however the appearance of an abundant crop over the whole country, and I hope with greater plenty things will again assume a more tranquil appearance. As the children wish to write something to their Cousins, I must leave this page to them, and with assurances that though I have been negligent in writing scarcely ever a day passes without remembering you. I am with kind regards in which all here unite, Your Affectionate Brother Hugh Young.
My dear Cousins, It is with much pleasure that I avail myself of this opportunity of writing you a few lines. By your last kind letter we were all very happy to hear that you were all so well and prosperous and sincerely hope that the same precious blessings still continue to accompany you. The description which you gave us of you r new house afforded us much amusement. What a gay appearance it must have. The accounts of your industry and perseverance is a great deal more than we can boast of and is certainly very commendable and praiseworthy. How very different the manners and customs of your country must be from ours. I think you mentioned in your last letter that William had commenced clearing a farm himself. I hope he is succeeding well in his undertaking. Youth and health are very valuable opportunities to improve and when we think of the shortness and uncertainty of the time allotted to us in this world, it should excite us to greater diligence not only in the temporal but also and more especially in Spiritual attainments. I have only just few weeks ago returned from a visit of ten months with our friends in England. Indeed I enjoyed myself very much while there. Our cousin's wife is a very nice agreable she was delicate when I went there first, and it was on that account they kept me with them so long. A voyage which she took when I was with them did her a great deal of good and she is now almost quite well. They have one child, a very nice healthy boy and very like to his Father. Alexander himself is quite well and seems to be very prosperous. He said to me before I left there that the intended writing to you ere long. But as I must not encroach farther on Alick's share of the paper I will conclude With kind regards to dear Uncle and Aunt, I remain Your Affectionate etc. Cousin Margaret Young.
Dear Cousins, As a small space is left for me, I cheerfully embrace the opportunity of writing a few lines at this time. I have for a long time enjoyed good health, and have been the most of the time at School. I can solve all ordinary questions in Arithmetic, read Latin and Greek pretty well. And this is a specimen of my hand writing. I once thought of going to college this year, but as I am yet rather young, I think I will delay another year, and by that time I may be able to judge better what profession I may pursue if Providence spare me. Your new house would be a great Comfort to you. We were glad to hear of your welfare and Prosperity. I suppose by this time your Cattle and Sheep and Pigs will be encreased to a multitude. Let us hear how you all are soon and requite us, kindness for neglect, and we shall try to do better in future. I am your affectionate Cousin, Alexander Young.
Dear Cousins, There is very little room left for me but I don t like to let the letter go away without sending you a small specimen of my hand writing as so many of you were so kind as to write us. I am very busy with my schooling at present. I am studying reading writing Arithmetic Grammar botany &c. Of the study of the last I am very fond. I think I would like to see some of you here. Could non of your young folks take a trip over to see your friends in Scotland? The distance between Britain and America is thought nothing of nowadays, but I must conclude with kind regards to you all. I remain you affectionate Cousin, Christina Young.
Dear Brother and Sister, you see that very little space now remains for me to fill up. But that little need not go unoccupied. I hope this will reach you in safety and that you will write us all the news when the harvest is over. Tell us all about yourselves, you family, and your farm and stock. The state of your Church and Congregation, who your minister is now, and how he succeeds. How your Temperance and Emancipation Societies get on. Total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors has taken the place of Temperance Societies with us, and is at present more popular. But for all that is doing, Intemperance is still slaying its thousands. And I fear practical religion is much on the decline. Popery is making rapid advancement over the country, and seem to get the favour of those in power. There is much need of united, believing, fervent prayer that the Reigning Redeemer may arrest the progress of Sin, overturn all systems of iniquity, and that he Holy Spirit may be poured out upon the churches, that a time of Refreshing may be enjoyed from the presence of the Lord. I am now advancing in life, and with my many frailties I cannot expect to be a long liver. But I feel concerned for my children and the church of God. With warm affection I say again, Farewell.
Hugh Young to Alexander Shields
at Glover, VT
Dear Brother and Sister,
In this country trade has been very dull for some months, and those who depend upon the manufacturing interest have been suffering very severely. There are however a great many large works (such as Railways) going on and tradesmen and labourers are all employed and are well paid. A Railway from Ayr around the Coast to Glasgow is now nearly finished. Another is now going on from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It is expected to be completed by the end of 1841 and will cost not less than a Million Stirling. Whether they may be for the good of the country ultimately I cannot tell. In the meantime they are certainly (from the influx of Strangers) contributing fearfully to the injury of our morals. Drunkeness and Sabbath profanation fearfully prevail. Frequently on Sabbath parties of these Drunken Labourers go about assaulting and abusing the peaceable inhabitants, who have in some instances been under the necessity of arming themselves for self defense, and some lives have been lost.
In this family we have enjoyed much peace and comfort for a long time. The pain in my side of which I formerly spoke, still troubles me occasionally, and for four months past I have been much troubled with a pain in my right shoulder which is supposed to be Rheumatism. Sometimes the pain is pretty severe and my arm gets so weak that I can scarcely hold the pen: but I have still been able to attend to my ministerial duties. My sight continues much as formerly, not improved. Anna and the Children have all had excellent health for a long time, and the Young folks are getting on well with their Education. Margaret is nearly as tall as her Mother and is an excellent scholar. She is at present with a Miss Cumming in Falkirk acquiring some of the Higher branches. Alexander is still at the Grammar School reading Latin and Greek; he might have gone to College this winter, but we thought him young enough, if spared he will likely go by next session. Christina is also well advanced and the younger ones are getting on. We have great comfort hitherto in our family. They are all apt in learning and steady and correct in their habits. The three older ones are Teachers in the Sabbath school, and are much respected in the village.
In the Congregation matters are much as they were, we have had no great increase, and we are not diminished. And I think the same may be said of our church in general. The Doctrinal part of our Testimony published two years ago, has given general satisfaction; and it is expected that the Historical part which is now nearly printed will not be inferior to it: Still our discipline and peculiarities prevent the Church from enjoying rapid increase. My last letter would inform you of the death of a number of our Ministers. Messrs. Reid, Fairly, Brown, Armstrong and McMurtrie have all died lately. A solemn warning certainly to survivors to be also ready.
I was in England in August last and spent some days with our friends there. Alexander seems to be in great worldly prosperity, his wife is a fine looking and very active woman. They have one child, a very fine smart boy; I fear, however, that religion does not occupy a very prominent place in their large establishment. I had a letter a few days ago from William Hamilton of Back Hairshaw; they have been visited again with deep affliction in the death of their Son Robert, a fine promising young man. He was in great distress for a time before his death which he bore with great patience and he gave them great comfort as to his future well being. In the letter his father says, "Sometime before his death he spoke his mind more correctly and with more steadfastness than ever he had done before and gave his mother and me, with all our friends and neighbours, great satisfaction with regards to his faith in Christ. He often told us he was not assured of his salvation, but he had some promises on which he relied, and he had laid all his known sins frequently before the Lord, and had sought the pardon of them, and he had this hope that the Lord would make good what he had promised. He was sore afflicted, and slept none for three weeks that ever we could discern, and before he died he would often say, 'O for an hours sleep' and then he would have a fine conversation about the Savior, but he never enjoyed it in this world. He died on the fifteenth of February at 8 O'clock at night." In that same letter also Wm. Hamilton desires me to mention to you that he wrote you a letter about Twelve months ago, but that he had received no answer from you. He stated further that all our other relations were well as far as known to them. I know of no further changes among them since I wrote you.
There has been much said of late in this country on the subject of religious revivals. It commenced in the parish of Kilsythe some time ago, and has been spreading over the country. That good is doing I think there is reason to believe, but there has no doubt been a good deal of extravagance. And it will require time to prove whether reported conversions have been genuine. There has been a great deal of additional preaching in many places. Prayer meeting are more numerous, and better attended than formerly, and it may be hoped that good will follow. I have promised the children the following page, I shall therefore pause till I see how much of the space they occupy. Your Brother Hugh.
Dear Cousins, As my father has allowed me a part of his letter I with much pleasure avail myself of this opportunity of writing you a few lines. As my father has given you all the news so minutely and as we have not heard from you since we last wrote you, I have very little to communicate at present. We are longing very much to hear from you and expected to have had a letter from you long ere now, but we hope to receive one very soon bearing good accounts of the welfare of all of your family as a letter from you always affords us much pleasure and satisfaction. I am at present attending a school in Falkirk taught by a very accomplished lady from Paris from which I hope I am deriving much benefit. We enjoy peculiar advantages of instruction both in a religious and secular way. When our parents are doing all in their power to furnish us with a good education we ought to endeavour carefully to make a proper improvement of the privileges which we enjoy bearing in mind that to whom much is given of the same shall much be required. When you write I hope you will favour us with all the news you can collect. I must leave room for Alexander and Christina. I shall conclude, With kind regards to dear Uncle, Aunt & Cousins. I remain Your affect. Margaret Young.
Dear Cousins, It is with much pleasure that I embrace this opportunity of writing a few lines to you. I have been in the enjoyment of good health, which is certainly a great blessing, since you heard from us last. I am still attending Mr. Morton's school at Falkirk, which I go to every morning, and am studying Latin, Greek, and some other necessary branches of education, which keep me very busy both at school and at home. As Papa and Margaret have given you all the particulars, I am a little at a loss to know what to say. The Young Mens' Society in connection with the Congregation has been for some time past very prosperous, although mostly all the old members, who constituted it, at its origin have left us, and the bulk of those who remain are still in the morning of life, yet we bid fair to rival those who have gone before us. The tasks of the Junior members are principally the proving of some particular doctrine, bearing upon the subject of the Essay, or the section of the Testimony which is before us; for since the Doctrinal Part of the Church's Testimony which we belong was printed, we either had an Essay or an examination on each section straight forward, that we might be the more able to support and defend the principles of our religion, and which we find very useful. For some time past Papa has had a Sabbath evening School in the Village, and I have a class in it along with Margaret and Christian, which we find a very delightful change. There is between 50 & 60 attending it altogether. But I must conclude as my share of the paper is done, with kind regards to Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins. I remain your affectionate Cousin, Alexander Young.
Dear Cousins, you will perceive that there is very little space left for me, I must there fore reserve what I would other wise say till another opportunity. I have been mostly at School since we last wrote. I am at home this Quarter learning to sew. I enjoy good health and have many comforts. Wishing you all well, I am your affectionate Cousin, Christina Young.
I had this space left. I intended to give you some account of the agitated state of the church of Scotland at present. The Civil and Ecclesiastical courts have come into Collision on the Subject of Patronage, and the church herself is also divided. The church on earth. If spared to write again to you I may be to give you news. Farewell,
Hugh Young to Alex
Shields, Craftsbury in Orleans Cty.
State of Vermount,
Dear Brother & Sister,
I cannot see how uniting in a good cause, such as the Temperance, or the abolition of slavery, which does not require ecclesiastical communion, should form a ground of dissention. Of course I am ignorant of the particular rules upon which these institutions are based. In a world like ours where all are liable to err, and where everyone has his own weaknesses these is much room for the exercise of meekness and moderation, and Christian forbearance ought to be exercised as far as may be consistent with the maintaining of the grand doctrines of the Bible and the Covenanted attainments of the Church.
In this family we have all enjoyed a considerable measure of health and many comforts ever since I last wrote you. Mary had scarlet fever last winter but recovered well. I have never been laid up from the weekly discharge of Ministerial duty, yet I have frequent ailments. Severe pain in my back, sometimes troublesome. It is well at present. The disease in my right eye still continues, and the sight is rather worse. An uneasy feeling in my left side and breast (I can scarcely call it pain) troubles me a good deal, particularly in preventing rest. Many nights I cannot remain so long in one position as to obtain a sound sleep. Sometimes I feel as if there was an enlargement of the heart, and at other times it is so well that I conclude there is no radical disease, but that it arises from flatulency or some nervous affection. I know that all things are wisely ordered, and that I shall be spared as long as there is work for me in the church on earth.
Anna was troubled with a sore leg a few weeks this summer, other wise she has enjoyed good health. Margaret has been generally at home, and is of great service to her Mother. She is naturally talented, and is an excellent scholar. She takes a deep interest in the cause of religion, and I hope is, in various ways making herself useful in advancing the cause of the Redeemer. Alexander attended college last winter, and I believe succeeded pretty well: he goes at present to school in Falkirk, and proposes to return to College in a few weeks. What he intends to do I do not know. It is good to follow the leadings of Providence, and if he is spared I have no doubt something will be marked out for him. Christina and Jane attend a female school in Falkirk, and Mary and Elizabeth are taught by Margaret at home, and are all getting on well. Our boarder still remains with us. We are paid very handsomely for him which is enabling us to obtain a better education for the family than otherwise we could do.
The congregation continues much the same. Many of our most active young people go away to the large towns in the prosecution of business, which greatly prevents our increase. Upon the whole I think our church in Scotland is rather prospering, although the Elective Franchise, and some other things operate very injuriously upon her.
We have for a time been blessed with peace, and in all the important matters which have of late been agitated there has been great harmony and unanimity in the Synod. Our friends in Ireland have followed your example and have broken to pieces. The Rev. Mr. McLeod of New York, and a Mr. Wylie a Student from Philadelphia (a Son of the Doctor's) have been visiting Scotland this summer. I met with them one day at Sterling. Mr. McLeod was admitted to a few of the pulpits of our Ministers, and I believe communicated in one or two of our Congregations, which I have learned has given offence to both Ministers and Members of the church. I suppose our brethern who admitted him will justify themselves upon the ground that all parties in America claim kindred to us, and profess to approve our Standards. I was just as well pleased in the present state of Matters that he did not come my way.
I am sorry I never wrote Dr. Wilson in answer to what you sent me from him in a former letter. I learned that Dr. Wm. Symington was collecting for him some of the documents of which he spoke to me. I heard also that he had removed from his former situation, and I have never been able to obtain his proper address. Moreover from his letter, I expected him in Scotland last Spring, but he did not make his appearance.
Of our relation in this country I have very little to communicate. They are not good correspondents. We write them occasionally, but we rarely get an answer. I believe all the families are nearly in the same circumstances as formerly and are prospering as far as we know. You may have heard that Margaret Young of Meadowfoot died last Spring. She had been in a very delicate state for a considerable time. Did I mention formerly that Uncle Andrews Oldest son died in the course of last year? James Hamilton removed from Snaib a year past and has gone to a Farm called Drumlock a few miles to the south west of Hamilton. Of Alexander Young in England I have heard nothing for nearly a year. He has become very undutiful. I have written him several times, but he gives me no answer. I cannot conceive at all the reason of this for he used to be kind and attentive. My two brothers in law who went to South Australia are getting on well, we heard of them lately.
In this country the latter part of the summer has been rather wet and cold and the price of grain is high. The harvest however has been pretty good, and with the exception of wheat, which is considered inferior in quality, the crops are good, and the greater part is now secured. The markets are expected to fall. There is a talk of war with the United States, and will be so until the affair of McLeod is settled. Should he be condemned I think war will be inevitable. I hope such a calamity may be avoided.
The Church of Scotland has got into deep waters, and there is not as yet any appearance of her difficulties being removed. The reforming party which are now by far the majority have come into collision with the civil powers who are lording an Erastian Supremacy over them. They have not yet declared for the complete removal of Patronage, and I fear some half measures may be devised for healing the breach. The Reformers or Non intrusionists have hitherto been pretty firm, and they are certainly approaching nearer to the principles of the Second Reformation, though I fear they are not yet prepared to go all the length. The controversy if going on at present more keen than ever, and an onlooker would think a division unavoidable. If the civil powers do not yield the Reformers will be forced to Secede. The Erastian party will then hold the endowments, But as an Establishment their church will be so utterly contemptible that I think she cannot long stand. Perhaps something may be done by the Return of the Torries to office.
What would be the postage of a Newspaper were I to send you one at any time? The Young folks wish to write their Cousins and I must now give place to them. Be sure and write us soon, and with kind love to you, to Dear Sister, and all the family in which all here unite; I am you affectionate Brother, Hugh Young.
Dear Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins,
Dear American Friends,
I went to College last winter and I propose in about three weeks once more to return to the busy scenes of Glasgow, where I intend to resume my studies with new vigor and alacrity. I was kept very busy last winter, and intend to be more so this. I hope I have made at least considerable progress in my search of secular learning. But what does all the wisdom of this world avail if we want the wisdom "that cometh from above" and we ought to bear in mind that more solemn period when "the wisdom of this world" shall be as dross, and may we ever have before our eyes our latter end, the immortal crown of glory which will dysapate "the false light on glory's plume" and banish all the deluding charms of a sinful world. As my share of the paper is full I must conclude with love to you all, Yours Affec. A. Young.
My dear Cousins,
Dear Friends, by this time I daresay you are thing we have occupied your time long enough. Whatever may be said of quality you do not want in quantity. What you have from the three oldest children is entirely their own composition. And you may be able to trace a little the way in which their thoughts run. They have hitherto been all dutiful and we have some reason to thing they have been taught "to remember their Creator." I have great comfort in my family which makes it more agreable to do what I can for them. Dear Sister: We are now advancing in life and there is little hope we shall ever see each other in this life world. Let us meet daily at the Throne of Grace. Let us improve the great Salvation, that at last we may meet where separation shall not be known. I am again your affectionate Brother,
Hugh Young to Alexander Shields fr.
April 29th, 1843
Dear Brother and Sister,
I have given strict orders to our friends in the West that if they know of any person going to your neighborhood to let me know. Suppose I could get a parcel sent to New York. Is there any person there to whom it might be addressed and who would get it forwarded to you without great expence. In the meantime accept of our thanks for the nice Tablecloth you sent. We value it highly as a mark of your regard and as a specimen of your own workmanship. I Thank you also for Mr. M. Wilson's Pamphlet. I think he makes out a pretty strong case. In large Towns, and throng congregations the office of the Deacon may be very necessary and useful. At the same time I do not think it essential to the constitution of the Presbyterian church, nor even necessary in small country congregations.
It always gives us great pleasure to hear of your welfare and prosperity, and that your dear family are all in the way of well doing. There can be no greater earthly comfort to Parents, than to see their children growing up in the truth, and in the fear and love of God, and in the way of supporting an honorable and useful standing in the world.
In this family we are very nearly in the same circumstances as when I last wrote you. Mrs. Young and myself are no doubt feeling that we have passed the meridian. You speak of "Grey hairs being here and there" upon you. Mine are all grey ((or rather white) together. Indeed, my head is the whitest in the Reformed Synod. The reason I do not know. I believe it is constitutional. To me it is a matter of small moment. The truth is I think it rather an ornament, especially in a minister.
The girls are still in the way of learning and the oldest are considerable advanced. I hope by and bye should it be necessary they may be able to commence Teaching in some way or other. Alexander has now nearly completed his third year at college, and has thitherto succeeded very well. He has stood high in all his classes. He fell into delicate health last Spring before leaving Glasgow. He was growing rather rapidly which was supposed to be the cause. For some months we had considerable fear as to the result. He got quite recovered during the summer, and with some slight cold has stood this winter very well. Whether he intends to prosecute his studies for the ministry I do no know. I think he is rather more inclined that way now than he once was. I believe he does not well know what to do. Prospects are very dark in every department in this country at present. I hope he is pious, and I think he desires to be useful. He was employed a part of last Summer assisting in an extensive boarding establishment in this neighborhood. He returns to it next week and expects to be employed at a handsome sallary during the summer.
We hear now more frequently from our friends in the west country. Our Young folks correspond with their cousins in the different families pretty regularly. End of last summer we had a visit of John of Meadowfoot and his youngest daughter, of two of Aunt Christian's family, and of Frances and his oldest daughter. They were then all well and prospering. Aunt Christian's family herself included had all the fever end of last season. They were long, and some of them very ill, they were however all mercifully preserved, and recovered, and are now in good health.
Our half brother Alexander Young died on the 14th of january last. He had been long in a delicate state. I did not hear of his illness till some time after his death. My own general health has been better of late, and I am stouter in body than at any former period of my life, but the affliction of my eyes rather gets worse. When I write or read long, I get almost blind. Still I think I am useful, when I cannot study. I go out and visit among the people. I am sorry your minister was continuing delicate when you wrote.
I had a letter lately from Alexander Young in England. He enquired for you and sends kind regards to you all. They have now three fine children, one boy and two girls. He says farming has gone to nothing in England.. The price of farm produce in almost every department has fallen so low that hundreds of Farmers were either ruined or on the brink of it. To aggravate the distress, a most fatal malady was prevailing among cattle in that quarter. He himself had lost twenty eight. He of course wrote in rather low spirits and said did he know of anything better he would give up his farm.
During the past year this country has been in a very low state owing to the depressed state of Trade and commerce. Many thousands both in England and Scotland have been unable to obtain employment, and have been of course entirely depending on public charity. There are at present slight hopes of reviving but still many are out of employment. Mercy has been mingled largely with judgement. The last was the finest season we have had for many years. Crops were early abundant and of excellent quality. The earth was just loaded with divine bounty. The very rivers and seas were unusually productive, and the crop of fruit throughout the country was almost unprecedented. Had the crop been a failure and markets high in the present state of business, there would doubtless have been famine. "O that man would praise the Lord for his goodness."
I think our church in this country is on the whole rather prospering. A whole congregation lately joined us, including the Minister (Mr. McKinley) Session and about 300 members. It is a very respectable congregation at Renton near Dunbarton formerly in the connection of the Old Light Secession. We have been much tried by our members using the Elective Franchise. Landlords have been most [hard?] in the way of almost forcing their Tennants to vote, but the Synod has been firm, and I think the worst [past?] in regard to that matter. For a year past the attention of the church has been directed to the [second?] Covenanting, and I think there is at present a prospect that the work may be attempted at no distant period. A bond is at present under the consideration of Sessions.
We have sent out a Missionary to New Zealand to labour among the heathen. He is a Mr. Duncan, a very devoted and pious young man from Airdrie. He took a wife out of the bounds of my congregation. I had the honour of officiating at their marriage. It is hoped by this time they have reached the place of their destination. We are also at present sending another missionary (A Mr. McReady) to Canada. He and Mr. McLachlan already there and some ruling Elders will now form a Presbytery. The next meeting of our Synod is to be held in Glasgow on the first Monday of July, 1843. The reason of its being so late is That it is intended to be observed as a commemoration of some important events in the church history. The Westminster assembly sat down July 1st 1643. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland sat down July 2d 1643. The Reformed Presbytery was constituted August 1st 1743. Thus by a coincidence not unworthy of our notice, the centenary of our first erection into an ecclesiastical judicatory, is the bicentenary of the famous Assembly which was honoured to prepare those excellent Standards in which the principles of the Second Reformation are so faithfully and Lucidly embodied. May not these things be profitably called to remembrance?
Four members of the Synod are to give each a Lecture, at the Evening meetings of Synod, on the Proceedings of the Westminster assembly, on the Covenant, On the history of our own church, and on the Churches Present duty. In the language of the proposal itself made by Dr. A. Symington: "We seek not to institute a commemoration to observe time and years, or to make a display savouring more of Self gratification than Reverential gratitude to God, and presenting a pageant, vanishing in a day; we seek to call a solemn assembly to take a retrospect of past times, and to improve it by reflection, humiliation, gratitude, and observation, for spiritual quickening, for stedfastness and Zeal in the course of Christ, for preparation for duty, for trial and for Death, and for the good of the generation around us, of the rising race, and of posterity unborn."
I have now nearly exhausted my news and my paper. A young man leaves this tomorrow for New York. I send this by him. This congregation is much in the same state as formerly. Our Boarder from Jamaica is still with us. He pays a handsome board which has enabled us to give the children a good Education, which I think the most valuable portion I can bestow upon them. Write us soon, and if you know of any plan by which a small parcel could be conveyed to you, let me know. I shall request our young folks to write yours some time ere long. All Unite in Sending most affectionate regards, and with the most heartfelt desire for your welfare Now and Hereafter, I am your affectionate Brother Hugh Young.
Excuse this very ill written letter. I have headache Today, which is rather unusual with me, and my sight scarcely enables me to form a letter. I have never written
Dr. Wilson. I am asked of it. I expected him in Scotland, but he has never come. I heard he removed, and I do not now know his address. H.Y.
Hugh Young to Alex Shields near
Falkirk, SE 11 1844
Dear Brother and Sister,
Whilst your letter contained much pleasing information of the continued health of the surviving members of your family circle, and of the state of prosperity to which in the goodness of Divine Providence you have been raised; it was not without matter to call forth our Sympathy, and to remind us of the transitory nature of our earthly enjoyments. The early removal by death of William's wife was no doubt a very painful affliction to him and all of you. When we remember however that all the Divine dispensations are ordered in infinite wisdom and goodness, and are no doubt designed to manifest his own glory, and gather in his redeemed to himself, we should no repine, but be ready to say with the full consent of our hearts, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." I sincerely hope his little daughter may be spared to him, and that he will have much comfort in seeing her not only growing in stature but also in the saving knowledge of the Divine Saviour; and should he think of marrying again, a step which I would consider highly proper, let him be careful to select one who will make not only a good wife to himself but a good mother to his daughter.
As neither you nor the young men say any thing of their mother, I take it for granted that she is in good health, and it must be a source of great satisfaction to you both to see your family so far provided as to worldly comfort, and above all that they are not unmindful of the one thing needful. To Godly parents there can be "no greater comfort than to see their children walking in the truth." This is far more precious than gold and silver. I was glad to learn that your Minister was well, that you had the full enjoyment of the ordinances of the gospel, and that the church was favoured with a measure of prosperity in your district of the country. If Mr. Beattie has been settled in your neighborhood, he will no doubt be an acquisition. He sustained an excellent character in this country; I had not the pleasure of hearing him preach, but I know that he preached with great acceptance in several of our Congregations. Should you see him remember me kindly to him, also to your own Minister, and say I very sincerely wish them both much success in their Divine Master's Service.
As letters are now conveyed over the length and breadth of this land for one penny, I sent your letter in an envelope to Alexander Young in England. He returned it in one of his own to me, but without any other remarks than a desire to be kindly remembered to you all. He keeps his mind so much to himself that I know nothing of his circumstances, but from the low price of almost all kinds of farm produce, I should fear that he is not making things better. I know he sustained very great loss of Cattle when the Murrain prevailed in the country some time ago. I took your letter also with me to Darvel, where all relations there had an opportunity of seeing its contents. They were all glad to hear of your welfare and return kind regards to you.
In this family we are very nearly in the same circumstances as when I last wrote. The Young folks are all still at Education, more or less. Margaret and Christina have been acquiring a knowledge of Music and French; their object I think is to devote themselves to Teaching, should it be necessary. Janet and Mary go to school and are learning English, English Grammar, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, English Composition & Elizabeth gets lessons at home. Alexander was engaged during the whole of last season as a Teacher in an extensive Boarding Establishment in this neighborhood. There were four Teachers besides the Principle himself. Alex.r taught English, Latin, Greek, and Geography. He had £40 of salary and Board and washing. He is at present attending the Divinity Hall at Paisley, he is considered talented, and as he is very amiable in his disposition, he is a general favourite. He still wants one Session at College, and intends to go either to Glasgow or Edinburgh during the approaching winter to complete his course of Philosophical study. I intend to make them all unite in writing a letter to your young folks before Alex.r goes to college.
Their mother retains her looks and health well, and but for a fault in one of her limbs, would pass for little the worse. I have occasional ailments, but as I am still able to go on, I say little about them to anyone. When lately in the west I either saw, or heard of all our relations, with very few exceptions they were well and prospering. I enquired for Mr. Robert Shields, and was told that he was so unwell at the time as to be unable to attend the church.
Mrs. Dow and her son John are at Galston; John was said to be trying the weaving. He had become very dissipated and had spent all he had. James has gone into the army. He had acquired the same habit as his brother, and even to a greater degree. I heard his Regiment were ordered some time ago to the East Indies. He had been sometime now under the influence of Delerium Tremens and his wife (Helen Young) though one of the best and most amiable of women could not live with him. She is now well and comfortable. I got her an excellent and useful situation as Submatron in one of the hospitals in Edinburgh. Her two children are at Meadowfoot, but she has the prospect of getting them into some of the Charity schools in Edinburgh. She has 15 of annual salary with bed board and wishing with a prospect of advance. Her Brother Alexander of Meadowfoot was lately married to a Daughter of William Dalgbert of Alanton. We expect a visit of Sister Christian and two of her Sons in a few hours, and will give you some account of Poor Brother Frances when I have received the latest intelligence. His case calls for our deepest Sympathy and earnest prayers.
I am glad that some of your young men intend to visit the land of their Fathers, probably next season. Many will be glad to see them, and if I am spared I hope they will make this their chief residence while in Scotland. Alexander in his part of the letter puts the following question, "Is there a probability that I could get a good, braw, rich, active young woman for a wife?" I have no doubt of his success, and even among his own kindred should he prefer it. The young women are not scarce in this country. But as I remember how well he liked to see a Laurieston penny when I came to Galston, and as he seems not altogether to have lost sight of his penny propensities, I fear the Young Ladies in this house will want the "Essential Qualification"; but there are other places where the pennies are more plentiful. Would you not think of visiting Scotland yourself? Conveyances are now so rapid and cheap, that it would be easily accomplished in a few weeks, and for a comparatively small sum. I have never got an opportunity of sending the small parcel I intended for you. I have it still in keeping, and perhaps some opportunity may offer.
The state of religion in this country is still far from satisfactory. There is much said about it, and much of the spirit of party, but I fear there is a great want of vital godliness. In this quarter the Wesleyan Methodists are prevailing, and there has also been a split from the Secession, or rather that body has been obliged to cut off a few of their number, who maintain the Doctrine of Universal Redemption, deny Eternal election, and the necessity of divine influences unto faith, that say that man has it in his own power to believe. In short, it is essentially a revival of the old Arminian heresy of "Good works and free will."
Your views of the Free Church are quite correct. They have indeed asserted the right of the Christian people to Elect their own Pastors, and in doing so they have made a noble stand, and a very considerable sacrifice, and we give them credit so far. But they have not as a church declared Patronage to be unscriptural; on the other hand, they told the government, they could go on, if they were simply allowed to force an unacceptable Presentee upon a reclaiming congregation. They founded their "claim of rights" upon the Revolution settlement and articles of Union, both of which they seem to be quite satisfied with: and we wonder how, after separation from an Erastian church, they can still cleave to the very State that has Erastianized her, and which itself out and out Erastian -- They are very desirous to be esteemed the Successors of the Scottish martyrs, but we dispute the honour with them, and think their claim not very well founded. While they do not avow the obligation of the Covenants, nor maintain the necessity of scriptural qualifications in Civil Rulers. They pretend to have the doctrine of Christ's headship over the nation. But we think very inconsistently while they identify themselves with a Constitution which in many important points is in direct opposition to the Redeemer's word.
We had a deputation from them to our Synod, who spoke in very complimentary terms, and some of them admitted that we occupied better ground than they. Yet they seem in general, to try to keep us as much out of view as possible. A few have said they would adopt our principles could they get their Brethern and their people to go along with them. Two congregations of Old Light Burghers have already joined with us, and a number of the Original Seceeders are looking our way. We are encouraged by these movements and feel strongly this obligation to hold up to view the grand principles of the Second Reformation. We have now a very efficient Magazine (The Scottish Presbyterian) which is devoted to the interest of our church and which has attained a circulation of about 1,300 each publication.
We have had a delightful Summer, and the harvest in this quarter is nearly concluded. The Crop promises to be very abundant. Mr. Goolds death was awefully sudden. He went out in good health, made some visits, and went into a warm bath, when the rupture of a blood vessel in the head brought an instant death. How true it is "we know not what a day may bring forth." It presents a loud call to us all to work while it is day.
Sister Christian and her sons have not come according to promise. We think the very fine weather has brought on their harvest sooner than they expected. I have no direct information from
Leelone of recent date, but I have heard indirectly that Brother
Frances is no better. His mind is quite unhinged. He is not a Madman, nor has he lost all power of self control. Yet in many points he is quite deranged. Sometimes he thinks that all are his enemies and are seeking his ruin. That himself and family and cattle are all starving of hunger. Sometimes he imagines that the whole frame of nature is breaking up and is about to crush them all to death, and that all this is for his Sin. Sometimes he thinks there is no hope for him, and that it is in vain to pray for mercy. I tried to reason with him, but found it in vain. The Farm had been quite too high rented for these times. He still carried on without letting his difficulties be known till he had lost all he had, and was a little behind otherwise, which seems to have preyed so much upon his mind as to bring him into his present melancholy state. After all when his affairs were settled, he was very little behind.
Meadowfoot and one of Jean's brothers settled all to the satisfaction of every one. They have taken the Farm again on more advantageous terms, for the benefit of the family. It is well stocked and all might prosper were he fit to take the management of it. I wished him sent to the Asylum where from the Superior mode of treatment there might be more hope of his recovery, but that has not yet been done.
The Congregation here is much as formerly. Our most active young people, though they do not in general leave the church, yet they go to the large towns in pursuit of business or more advantageous Employment, which prevents our increase. All here unite in their kind regards to yourselves and family. Be sure and write soon, and believe me ever your affectionate Brother, Hugh Young.
P.S. Our Synod has had the subject of Covenant Renovation under consideration for some time. We find that perfect unanimity prevails in the church in regard to the great principles embraced in our national vows and in regard to the descending obligation of these vows. But from a want of perfect unanimity in Sessions as to the suitableness of the present time for Covenanting, the duty cannot be immediately enjoined on. The Subject is still before the church and an endeavour is still to be made to provide preparation for the Solemn work. We have at present Thirty one Congregations with ministers, and a few vacancies, and about 7 or 8 preachers. Yours affectionately,
H. Young to Alex Shields, dated Laurieston (Falkirk) Feb. 2d, 1846
Dear Brother & Sister,
I hasten to make known to you the Death of our dear Brother Frances, which took place in the Asylum on the morning of the 12th of Last month. He continued in ordinary bodily health till within two days of his death, when he had an attack of Apoplexy from which he never recovered. The Physician wrote me by the first post after he was attacked, and I left home immediatly in the hope that I might be with him in his last moments, but before I reached Glasgow he was gone. He never fully recovered the use of his faculties, though at some times and on certain subjects he spoke quite rationally. I saw him a few weeks before his death when he enquired with perfect correctness for my family. And his own, and a variety of other matters, and except occasionally when his mind wandered, you would not have known him to be insane.
The Doctors had declared his case to be incureable, and I believe arrangements were making for his going home, when it pleased an All-wise Providence to order it other wise. His widow and children continue to possess the Farm, and as his Oldest Son Alexander is a Shoemaker, I understand James Woodburn takes the charge at Leeloan. I have not seen any of them since the death. The funeral was on the Saturday, and I had it not in my power to attend. I hope to be able to see them soon.
All other relations are so far as I know well, and in very much the same circumstances as when I last wrote to you. Since that time I have heard of neither Birth nor Marriage nor any other death among our near relations, except that Agnes Young Meadowfoot had a son sometime last summer. I mentioned to you formerly, that about the time James Dow entered the army I got a situation for his wife as Submatron in one of the houses of Refuge in Edinburgh. She conducted herself with so much propriety and usefulness, and so far gained the esteem of the Directors, that when a vacancy took place she was recommended to the Provost and Magistrates of Paisley, and is now the Head Matron in the jail there with a salary of £40 per annum. She is a most amiable and excellent person. Her whole soul and strength are engaged in promoting the Spiritual interests of her unfortunate fellow creatures.
In this family we have had during the past year, some affliction and a very considerable measure of health. We all had an attack of Inflammatory Sore throat in Nov. last. Christina and Janet were both very ill, but we were all mercifully preserved. They are now beginning to go about and have been once or twice at Church. Margaret has been nearly a Twelve months in a Female Boarding establishment in Aloa partly as a Scholar and partly as a Teacher. The usual charge is £40 per ann. She pays £20 as she teaches the younger branches two or three hours daily. She thinks herself now nearly qualified to be a governess, and will be looking out for a situation ere long. Alexander finished the usual course of study at College last winter, was examined and approved by the Presbytery and has entered upon the study of Divinity under Professor Symington of Paisley. He is at present one of the Classical Teachers in a very extensive boarding establishment in this neighborhood, and has a Salary of £50 per ann. with two months to himself during the time of the Hall. Christina assists her mother, and the three youngest go to school in Falkirk. Our boarder still lives with us, which greatly assists in giving our Family a liberal Education.
I am happy to learn that your Robert has a desire to prosecute study. I think you should by all means encourage him. "The harvest is great and the Labourers are few." Could you support him one or two years at college, I think he might after that work his own way as many of us have had to do. I do not know how matters are with you, but I think were he in Scotland he would have no great difficulty in getting forward. I shall be glad to know that he is setting his face to the work of the Lord. It is painful to think that your system of Education has hitherto been so unfavourable to the prosperity of the Church. The plan which your Synod has recommended is certainly incomparably Superior, and I hope it may be extensively adopted. I am truely sorry to learn that your Minister has left you, and that you are likely for a time to be deprived of the regular dispensation of the ordinances of the Gospel. This is a great privation to both old and young. If you think proper, you may give me the particulars which have led to such a painful result. And when you see Mr. Beatie, express to him my best wishes both for his personal welfare, and for his success in the gospel.
Last season, in this country was cold and wet, the harvest was rather late, and many of the crops rather inferior in quality. The potatoes are in a great measure lost over the whole country. They had a fine appearance till harvest, when a disease (for which no one seems able satisfactorily to account) came upon them, and rendered them unfit for use, and at present it is doubtful if seed can be procured. I have already heard of some good and sound samples being bought for planting as high as Two pounds the
Ayrshire boll. Great distress is anticipated in Ireland and it is reported that Famine has already broken out in some districts of that unhappy country. The newspapers at the same time state that Government has already forewarded to several Irish ports a very large supply of Indian corn and other provisions of a cheap kind, that as far as possible the evil may be remedied.
Our church in this country (like your own) does not make rapid progress. We are I think maintaining our ground and perhaps a little more, but if the discipline is kept up, these are not time when the church can look for large accessions. The Free Church is the popular one here at present. The idea that she is a reforming Church satisfies those who have a desire to be esteemed religious, and her most shameful laxness in admission and discipline suit the multitude, and the Spirit of rivalship has enabled her to collect vast sums to prosecute her different "schemes."
In this congregation matters go on much in the usual way. As to numbers we are nearly the same as when I came here about 24 years ago. This is a most barren place of the country as to religion, and our principles were never at any time popular here. Mr. William Symington (son to Dr. Symington of Glasgow) who was licensed some time ago has already had three calls, viz. to Colmonel, Castle Douglas, and Lesmahagow. He has accepted the one to Castle Douglas, and will be ordained in a short time. There is a very general feeling of indignation in this country at present against your president Mr. Polk and those who along with him would embroil the two countries in War on the subject of the Oregon territory. Our government is said to have repeatedly wished to submit the matter to the arbitration of neutral friendly powers, and if after having done so, war ensues, we think America must be accountable for the consequences. War which at all times is a dreadful calamity, would be fearfully so now between this country and the United States where almost every family have their near and dear relatives. Let us trust and pray that "He who is Governor among the nations" may incline the hearts of our rulers rather to devote their wealth to the spread of his Gospel than to enforce their subjects to imbrue their hands in each others blood. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth be glad." Should you hear of any body going from this country to your neighborhood, I should be glad if you would immediately let me know. From the penmanship of this letter you will see that my sight is not improved. The Doctors give me no hope of improvement: ease is the only thing recommended, and attention to the state of the Bowels. You will not doubt have heard of the large meeting held some time ago at Liverpool, and of the still larger one expected to be held at London next summer on the subject of Union among Evangelical Protestants. Our Church has entered into it with some measure of Spirit. It is a union of persons, and not of Churches, which is first contemplated; Union of sentiment is not required. But the present desire is to cultivate more of Christian affection, and to cooperate more closely in what may advance the cause of Christ, and oppose the common Enemy, and if we regard the Saviours prayer John xvii 21,23, we must view the object as a desireable one. If it can be joined without any sacrifice of truth. I commenced this letter for the last Packet, but found I was too late. It will be of an old date before you receive it. Be so kind as write soon, I always long to hear from you. All here unite with me in most affectionate regards to you and to all the members of your family, and I am Your affectionate Brother, Hugh Young.
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