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A Life Story,







I AM going to tell you a story. Such an announcement used to make us happy in childhood; so that, in recalling that past, while many faces have long ago become dim, or quite lost to memory in the gloom of years, and many voices hushed in the eternal silence, yet the faces still survive, smiling and bright in memory's eye, and the voices still ring their peaceful chimes in memory's ear, of those kind friends who used long ago to tell us stories. I pity the man whose early life has been so dull and hazy as not to have sometimes gleamed beneath such touches of sunlight.

This random story was originally written for an Association of Young Men connected with my own congregation, to whom I had often given "Lectures" of a different cast. In an easy hour I was induced to accept the honour of delivering it in the City Hall, Glasgow, and then in other places, until at last what was intended for a small social circle of friends only, has been repeated, with slight changes, in Exeter Hall, and is doomed, alas! to be printed for the public at large.-I am now helpless in the matter, and can only express my sorrow at the murder of my innocent; for I may say of it what Charles Lamb says of sentiment, "This dish, above all, requires to be served up not-if it has time to cool it is the most tasteless of all cold meats."

It seems to me good as well as pleasant for us thus to be young again, and to leave the dusty, bustling, struggling, hard macadamised road of ordinary, every day life, and to dash into the woods, get away to the glens and moorlands, forgetful of sportsmen and keepers, to wander at our own sweet will, "Down by the burnies' side, and no think lang;"

to hear the birds sing, and gather wild flowers, as well as gaze on the everlasting hills.

This story, then, is about one I knew long ago. Between death and the emigration of relatives, and those who knew him best, I do not believe that there is any one now living who would recognise the real person if I revealed his name. Walter Campbell, as I shall name him, was the son of a half-pay commander in the royal navy-" the captain," as we used to call him-a most simple-hearted and loveable man, whose true stories about those grand old wars when Nelson led the van, and England ruled the seas, made such an impression on me, that I often wonder how it is I am not on the quarter-deck as an officer, or in Greenwich Hospital as a pensioner. The captain's own life would be a lecture worth much, as a means of stirring up the man in all weaklings, and his unmistakable deeds of self-sacrificing courage and patriotism, like those performed now in India, would form a great relief to us when contrasted with the cowardice, selfishness, and dishonour of many of our home mercantile doings. The captain served long in the same ship with. Nelson, and unless he had met the beautiful and sweet woman who became Walter's mother, he might have given. us another great battle of the Baltic with the Russians, and saved many a lesser battle in Parliament with Sir James Graham. Walter's mother possessed an accomplished mind, with a rare character for genuine goodness and motherly love, but suffered much from a delicate

physical constitution. She and the captain, with Walter, their only son, lived in a retired cottage home, nestled in a glen near the sea, in one of those scenes in the western Highlands of Scotland, where breadth of copse composed of natural oak, and ash, and birch, fringing foaming streams,where narrow inland seas, intersected with castled promontories-lonely corries and dark moorlands undulating and vanishing to the northern hills-scattered islands and stripes of far off ocean, gleaming like a silver shield, or in solemn Atlantic waves breaking in thuds among the granite boulders on the shingly beach-with here and there scattered groups of Highland huts, that seem part of the rocks and ferny knolls marking their retreat by wreaths of smoke sent up among the rowan trees-accumulated glories, in short, from the present and traditionary past, which altogether make up such a scene of varied and picturesque beauty, as I, being a Highlander, maintain is nowhere else surpassed on earth. There the three lived in peace for many a day. Few events distinguished one week from another, unless it were the anniversary of a sea-fight, which the captain always commemorated becomingly, dressing himself in what remained of his old uniform, noting the progress of the battle by his large gold chronometer, anchored to the table with its bunch of seals, and drawing one of his few bottles of port to commemorate great actions, while less costly beverage served for minor affairs; and drinking in silence, and with a moist eye, the memory of old companions at the very hour they fell-a custom, by the way, which was attended by a shadow of hazard to his strict temperance, when such days as those of the Nile, Copenhagen, or Trafalgar came to be remembered.

His moral teaching of Walter was very simple, for it all turned chiefly on one great text-"Trust God and do the right; dare everything and fear nothing"-and he laboured

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