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forgotten, even while remembering the false, how many true worshippers of the poet met to honour his
The speech of the Burns' festival was neither the speech of the Lord Justice-General, of Sir John M‘Niell, nor of the Earl of Eglinton; it was the speech of Professor Wilson, and the tribute of the heart Christopher North offered on that day to the memory of the bard, merited a more handsome recognition than the expressive silence Hugh Miller left to muse its praise. Nor can we divest ourselves of the impression that the genial-hearted Eglinton was only uttering the genuine sentiments of his soul, when announcing to the gathered thousands that he, the descendant of those who dwelt in the “Castle of Montgomery," only felt himself too highly honoured in being permitted to propose
of him who erewhile wandered there unknown by the banks of the Fail.
Neither can we give up even Sir John M‘Niell: true he has been through life what is called a tory; but in the remembrance of the fact that this tory was among the earliest and kindest friends of a more friendless son of genius than even Burns, the graduate of Plymouth workhouse, John Kitto, we read an earnest of the treatment the poet would have received from the exCrimean commissioner. Nay, was there not in the genuine pluck and faithfulness of that report of his on the mismanagement by which a herd of titled aristocrats decimated the sons of the people, perhaps the noblest
recognition of the poet's creed, “a man's a man for a' that,” modern times have furnished ?
Later in life, we believe Hugh Miller considerably modified his opinions of some of the men to whom, in his paper on the Burns' Festival, he had done such scant justice. In the year of his death, we had the pleasure of seeing him on the same platform with not a few of these same tories, heartily co-operating, in a common effort, to save the monument of the bard from the vandalism of the town council of Edinburgh. The oratory on that occasion was done chiefly by Professors Aytoun and Blackie; but their speeches, so far as they bore upon the object of the meeting, were confessedly echoes of an article replete with the truest taste, the noblest eloquence, and the most ardent patriotism, which appeared in the Witness on the previous day.
HITHERTO the course of the ecclesiastical leaders of the Free Church, and the course of the editor of the Witness, had run nearly parallel Slight variations in policy and views, had, indeed, occasionally manifested themselves, but no serious disagreement was yet apparent. A crisis had, however, now arrived, when considerable discrepancy of opinion and policy was about to disclose itself. The severe labours, literary, ecclesiastical, and scientific, undergone by Hugh Miller during the first four years of the existence of the Witness, compelled him to forego all literary effort during the greater part of 1845 and 1846. Thus necessarily precluded from forming any very fixed views of what the church was doing, on returning in renovated health, early in January, 1847, to his editorial duties, he found her on the eve of that great educational controversy in which he was called to combat the church's entire ecclesiastical artillery, a combat which did not cease until, from his own solitary but well-appointed battery, he silenced its every gun.
No sooner had Hugh Miller returned to Edinburgh, than Dr. Chalmers, with his wonted kindness, paid him a visit of congratulation on his convalescence, and in a long and serious conversation, urged the importance of maintaining the Witness in honest independency, uninfluenced by cliques and parties, secular or ecclesiastical. At this interview the prospects of the Free Church educational scheme were briefly discussed. Dr. Chalmers was struck with the views of Hugh Miller, and expressed his desire to see the educational question brought at once to the columns of the Witness, and probed to the bottom. The opportunity for this discussion soon presented itself. The scheme of privycouncil grants for educational purposes nounced by government. Dr. Candlish had got the church committed to a refusal of all participation of those grants, as inconsistent with the principles of the Free Church.
So recently disentangled from the meshes of statecraft, like the bird escaped from the snare of the fowler, it was not wonderful, they should have been chary of entering anew into friendly relations with erastian politicians. Had this dissatisfaction based itself on legitimate grounds, and expressed itself in logical forms, even if not able to hold its own against the powerful antagonist it encountered in the Witness, it would, at least, been more worthy of respect. As it was, the “ vicious Cameronianism,” as Hugh Miller styled the sentiment with which he had to contend, made but a sorry figure in conflict with the strong common sense of the editor of the Witness. In supporting his views of the propriety of accepting the privy-council grants, Hugh Miller employed successively every arrow in his intellectual quiver, turning at will from the gravest statement to the gayest satire. Now by a calm historical narrative, now by a piece of powerful ratiocination, anon by the liveliest wit and the broadest humour does he overthrow the positions of his antagonists. Grave and reverend seigniors, with whom wit was wickedness, were startled from their propriety, hy finding themselves occasionally treated in the columns of the Witness, much after the manner they might have expected to have been treated in the columns of Punch.
As exhibiting the playful style in which he thus sometimes clothed important ideas, and the adroitness with which he could avail himself of the accidents of the hour for the illustration of permanent principles, this bit of exquisite banter will suffice. To a brother editor of opposite opinions on the education question, and somewhat alarmed at the range and freedom of illustration Hugh Miller brought to its discussion, he thus addresses himself:
“ What sort of teaching, then, we ask our cotemporary, does he expect for ten, fifteen, or even twenty pounds per annum! He remembers, we daresay, the story of Betty the cook-maid and her mistress. Betty, an old and faithful servant, on one day informing her mistress that she purposed getting married, had got a present of five pounds from her; and straightway taking her leave, she returned & morning or two after, to show the good lady her husband. The husband was little, and old, and blear-eyed, and lame of a foot, and