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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XII. - Continued Labours at Home and Abroad
1791 - 1793

"In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Cor. xi. 27.

The next missionary excursion of which he gives an account was a winter journey to Stewiacke. This settlement lies in a south-westerly direction from Pictou, and was about thirty miles distant from his home. The people there had not originally emigrated in one body. In the year 1780, a single settler named Kennedy from New England, erected his hut where John Putnam now resides. He was followed the next year by Mr. Samuel Teas, a North of Ireland Presbyterian, and Messrs. Whidden and D. Fisher from New England, who also settled in the Middle Settlement. In the following year Messrs. Wm. Fulton, Thomas Croker, Charles Cox, and Matthew Johnson, settled near where the village now is. Shortly after they were joined by others, some of whom settled in the Upper Settlement. At the time of Doctor MacGregor’s first visit to them, there were about twenty families in the Upper Settlement, and about ten in the Middle. These were of mixed origin, some being from the North of Ireland, one or two from Scotland, but the majority from New England. They were generally well trained in religious matters. Previous to this, Mr. Cock of Truro, and Mr. Smith of Londonderry, paid them one or two visits. The Rev. James Munroe also preached among them part of his time for about two years, between the years 1791 and 1794.

We insert here his own account of his journey, though the older settlers agree that his first journey did not take place so early as the date which he has assigned to it, (the first journey was in 1794,) and that his narrative confounds two journeys.

“1791. This winter I had to break in upon my plan of winter visitation and examination, by a few missionary excursions. To have given a little supply of sermon to Onslow and Stewiacke in summer would have been a sacrifice quite out of the power of the congregation, as one Sabbath in summer was worth two, or even three, in winter. I therefore determined, with the consent of the session, to give each of them two or three Sabbaths in winter. This, however, was no easy task when the snow was two or three feet deep. Here I had to travel forty miles on snow shoes, a journey almost three times as long as any which I had hitherto performed in that way. Travelling on snow shoes is eligible only when the snow is neither very soft nor very hard; for when it is very hard the snow shoes are apt to slide, and when it is very soft they sink deep, and become wet, and so heavy as to clog the feet greatly. It was soft then, and though I had three or four men before me making the road more solid, yet I was quite faint by the time we had travelled eleven miles. One of the company had with him a little rum and bread and cheese, of which we all partook, and by which I was recruited more than by any meal of victuals which I remember. But 1 became faint again before I reached a house, which was four miles distant. Then, having dined and rested, we travelled on to Truro, ten miles, where I had a sound sleep.

“In this short missionary excursion I had very attentive audiences, both on week-days and Sabbaths; but, as I could not but foresee, the proportion of females was much less than it would have been in summer. This was owing to the depth of the snow, and is unavoidable where the population is so thin that there is not enough of travelling to make good paths. On my way home from Stewiackc I was more hardly bestead, both by fatigue and hunger, than ever I was. I left Stewiacke on a fine morning, along with four Pictou men—two belonging to the West River and two to the Middle River; and having scarcely twenty miles to travel, we doubted not of reaching Pictou before night. But we took a little bread and cheese with us, as we expected to be hungry before we could reach a house. We had travelled only a short way when the weather changed, and the travelling became extremely heavy. We therefore resolved, instead of going, one party for the West River and the other for the Middle River, to keep together, and steer a middle course between the two rivers until we could get far on, and so have less travelling after dividing. By this plan we would have but one path to break, and each one’s share of the fatigue in going foremost to break it would be less. Thus we clung together till night, and then we judged ourselves only half way to Pictou. As it began to be dark, one began to cut down firewood, another to cut down poles and spruce branches for a shed or camp to shelter us, a third was engaged in fixing the poles and laying the branches in order over them, while the fourth laid the wood (cut by the first) in order upon the snow, collecting dry rotten sticks, striking fire, and kindling it. During most of the time in which they were thus engaged I rested, being much fatigued; but I soon grew very cold, and therefore got up and gathered a parcel of the spruce branches and strewed them on the snow for couches during the night. We soon made an excellent fire, and kept it burning all night, feeling no other inconvenience than that we had to turn now and then, for the side farthest from the fire soon grew cold, and the other too warm. I had no idea that a fire made on the top of the snow would have given us half the comfort we had; but my fellow-travellers were used to it, and well knew how to manage it with the greatest propriety. They laid on the snow a row of straight logs close together for a hearth, upon which they laid other logs and splits for the fire.

“With morning we rose to prepare for our journey. We had good appetites, but no provisions. We separated—one party squinting to the left, with intention to hit the West River at a considerable distance down from its source; the other, to which I belonged, squinting to the right, with the same intention as to the Middle River. We, however, missed our mark completely, for we travelled on till we thought we must be far past the Middle River; and judging that we had passed it so near its source as to do so without knowing it, or perhaps wholly above its source, we altered our course, and struck to the left, assuring ourselves that we could not miss it again. Onwards we marched, till we again thought ourselves far past it; and not meeting it, we could not determine what was best to be done. After consultation, we resolved to turn again to the right. By this time I was extremely wearied, and glad of any excuse for resting two or three minutes. We had not gone far when we met a blaze (a chip taken off the side of the trees, to show travellers a course) crossing our path almost directly. We resolved to follow it, as it would lead us somewhere; but whether it was best to follow it to the right or left we could not determine. By mere random we chose the left, and followed it as we thought about three miles, but probably not two, when we began to fear it was leading us from home, and accordingly we came straight back upon our own track, and kept the direction for more than four miles as we thought, and then stopped for another consultation. I was glad of any excuse to stop a little. We now resolved to take a kind of random course till we should fall in with a brook, and then lo follow it whithersoever it went. This we did, and soon fell in with a brook, which we followed a long way, shortening its windings as much as we could. It led us at length to burnt land, which gave us a hope that a settlement was not far off, though the immense multitude of fallen trees lying in every direction embarrassed us greatly, obliging us to creep under them and climb over them with great difficulty. The burnt land was extensive, and our progress through it extremely slow and fatiguing; but having got past, we soon arrived at a good path on the side of the Middle River, about four miles below the upmost settler. Here we took off our snow shoes, and being relieved of their weight, I felt as if I had no feet, and yet was so done out, that I could scarcely reach the next house. Here we were speedily supplied with plenty to eat and drink; but I could eat nothing till after I had rested a while, when I felt an appetite for some boiled potatoes. Rest and sleep restored me to my usual appetite and strength.”

The older settlers all agree that on his first journey he came through the woods direct from Pictou. Messrs. Samuel Teas and Robert Hamilton went, for him, and Messrs. David Fraser and John Marshall went with him. Between the farthest up settler on the Middle River, (John Collie,) and the farthest up settler in the Stewiaeke, a distance of nearly thirty miles, there was an unbroken forest, without even a blaze to guide the course of the traveller. They directed their course by compass, and of course had to travel 011 snow shoes. He spent two weeks on the excursion, preaching on Sabbaths and week-days in barns or dwelling houses, particularly at Mr. Robert Hamilton’s, near where the village now is, at Mr. Wm. Fulton’s just where the upper settlement meeting house now stands, and on the opposite side of the river. One sermon on the words, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” is particularly remembered.

They also agree that it was on the second journey he was reduced to such extremities, and that this was in the year 1795. On this occasion he came by way of Truro. At the Stewiacke side there was a blaze through the woods, but there was none at the Pictou side. His companions were John MacLean and Donald MacLeod, of West River, and Thomas Fraser and John Marshall, of the Middle River. On this occasion he preached in both settlements. This visit also extended to two weeks, during which he laboured both on Sabbaths and week-days, both preaching publicly and visiting from house to house. On both visits he held diets of examination. These meetings were at that time popular among the Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, and there was, for the population, a large assemblage. In fact, the whole settlement gathered, and the house, which was a private dwelling, was full. The people were at that time somewhat. divided as Burghers and Anti-Burghers, and on account of the controversy between him and the Truro brethren, a few did not go to hear him preach, but most were glad of a sermon, and both parties attended his diets of examination.

It may be added, that his companions on his journey home, who diverged for the West River, reached home without any mishap, though somewhat exhausted from want of food. He with the others came out at what was then Robert Brydone’s, now occupied by Mr. W. P. Crockett.

“I got through the usual course of examinations with increased comfort, being satisfied that the congregation was growing in knowledge and grace; but I was obliged to omit the visitation of a number of families, especially those on the outskirts.

“This year the session and I had some trouble on account of an umbrage which some of the congregation entertained against Hugh Fraser, one of the elders. The offence was grounded almost wholly upon a misrepresentation, but so general was the offence taken, that his brethren in the session thought his public usefulness was over, and with much sympathy advised him to lay down his office. He, however, refused, until some real fault should be proved against him. None would undertake to do this, and so the matter rested, till the people came to view the case more coolly, to see through the misrepresentation, and to receive him into their favour again. He bore his trial with meekness and patience, recovered his usefulness, and retained it to his death.

“This year we had eighteen additional communicants, and among them Robert Gerrard, an Irish convert from Popery, who, during the two years, was alternately so pleased and displeased with my preaching, that he swore different times that nothing would prevent him from coming to hear me, and that he would never hear me more.”

The following from his Memorabilia falls to be inserted here. “In October 1791, in sailing to the West River meeting house, I had a remarkable and most seasonable answer of prayer. The boat being heavy and ill manned we could make no headway after passing the Narrows; for then the wind was ahead and strong. But having got a lighter boat there, by making vigorous exertions, and keeping as much as we could under the lee, we got, by slow progress, to Fraser’s Point between ten and eleven o’clock, A. M. But we could be no longer under a lee, and the wind was now more ahead, and stronger, and the men weary and discouraged, so that we hardly made any progress. During all this time I sometimes prayed and sometimes fretted. Here we were almost cast ashore. After struggling awhile, apparently to no purpose, I desired them to give it up, for that it was vain to attempt going forward, which they instantly did. But being vexed for the disappointment of God’s people and the suffering of God’s glory, I begged God’s assistance, and desired the men to make another attempt, which they did; and as if a miracle had been wrought for us, we advanced fast, and landed in time to do the day’s work.”

“1792. Peter Grant, elder for the east branch of the East River, being dead for some time, and the bounds of the congregation being enlarged by the accession of new settlers, it was deemed necessary to add three more elders to the session. Merigomish also was enlarged in the same manner, and the people there wished to embrace the opportunity of getting an elder added to their session. Therefore, in the course of this summer, four more men were chosen, proved, and ordained to the office of the eldership.

“The session appointed me again to Amherst this summer. I found the people there much the same as before, only they were anxious about an answer to their petition for a minister. The reader cannot easily conceive my grief and perplexity on their account, seeing them from year to year destitute of public ordinances, and seeing my earnest applications to the Synod producing nothing but sympathy. The Synod had, indeed, appointed Mr. Eneas MacBean, a preacher under their inspection, an acquaintance of mine, to whom I had written, earnestly requesting him to conic, and who, answering plainly, promised that he would, if appointed, but did not stand to his promise, lie found excuses fur refusing the Synod’s appointment; but he did not profit by it, for none who came had such a hard lot as he had. This example should be a caution to others. I wrote again to the Synod for ministers, a longer letter than before, and more earnest, which my friend, Mr. Buist, caused to be circulated pretty widely, in order to make a stronger impression at home. It had considerable effect; for though it produced no immediate relief, it induced Mr. Boss and Mr. Brown to prepare seriously for coming out.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and the disappointments which he experienced in regard to ministers coming to his assistance were among the most severe trials he experienced during the early years of his ministry. Two disappointments of this kind are mentioned in the preceding paragraph. They are more particularly described in the following letter, written about the beginning of the year 1791, to a relative who had emigrated to New York:

Dear Sir:—I received a letter dated October 9th,—this day. It is the fourth written to me, but I believe it is only the third which I received. I am sorry for Mr. Marshall’s2 losing-the Meeting House, but I am not sure if it be a great loss to his congregation, because people will sympathize with them for having suffered unjustly, and they will be stirred up to pray more fervently. The silver and the gold are the Lord’s, and he can easily employ them to build another Meeting House. The Lord’s testimony will, without doubt, be maintained, and all attempts against it will only forward it.

It is a great pity that men are so unwilling to come to America. It is a means of hindering the Lord’s work very much. But the hearts of all men are in the hands of the Lord, and when his time comes he will make them willing; but as he works by means, every one ought to use every means within his reach; and so those who have a call to come and refuse are certainly guilty of dreadful disobedience. Prayer is the chief means in our power, and as Christ gives us a special command to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers to his own harvest, I think yon ought to make it a rule never to go to your knees in your family or in secret, without praying that lie would send them forth,—you should also of this congregation and me.

We sent a petition to the Synod in May, ’89, for Mr. MacBean, a Highlander, See. The most part of the people are from the Highlands. Inverness had a call for him too, and as there was a competition, and the Synod were exactly in half for us, and in half against us, they did not make any decision that year, but sent word to us and Inverness to give a full account of our situation and needs, and the arguments we had in our behalf.

We did so, and in May last he was appointed to this congregation without a dissenting voice, except one minister and one elder, but all this signifies nothing, as he is unwilling to come. If the Lord were not to overrule all things for good, it would be a great loss to us. There is no other who can preach Gaelic in the inspection of the Synod. How the Lord will dispose of us in this dispensation I know not, only I know he will do what is best.

Amherst, about 100 miles from this, sent a petition to the last Synod, and their petition is successful. John Cree, a son of John Cree, merchant in Perth, whom perhaps you know, comes out to them in Spring. This will be some help to us, as he will help us at the sacrament, which has been a heavy burden upon me. I have kept three sacraments alone, in Gaelic and English. I hope ere many years we will get some more ministers out here.”

Mr. MacBean was a man of good talents, and his letters are full of loud professions of readiness to follow the path of duty wherever it might lead. “I am very much obliged" he says, “to you for your sincere, disinterested desire, that I should be your co-pastor in Pictou. In this most momentous matter I wish to be equally disinterested. I would not wish to imitate some of my fellow preachers, who refused going to America, when they had, in so far as I could ever yet judge, a very clear call to go. I would wish rather to consider myself as not at my own, but at the sovereign and gracious Lord’s disposal; and consequently, as under the most indispensable obligation to answer and comply, whenever and whithersoever I should have a clear call from him.” “You may do respecting me as you think best. I have no desire to have the least hand in carving my own lot.”

With such promises on the part of his old friend we need not wonder that his expectations were high of having a fellow labourer, and that his disappointment was proportional, when, even after so clear a call as the almost unanimous voice of the Synod, Mr. MacBean refused to come to Pictou. lie was settled in Inverness under the following circumstances, as stated by the Bev. P. Buchanan : “ The congregation of Inverness is small, and the most of them very poor. They have however promised £20 of stipend, their greatest dependence for the payment of which is on occasional hearers and the future increase of the congregation. But Mr. MacBean is resolved to be content with whatever they shall be able to give.” His life afterward was not a happy one. The congregation did not grow, but continued always small and poor, and to be able to live at all, he found it necessary to follow teaching or some other employment, and finally was involved in charges of immorality which brought him under the discipline of the church.

It is interesting to contrast the history of Dr. MacGregor and him. They were intimate friends,—both possessed of good talents, and both professed to have devoted themselves to the work of the ministry. But we see the one, when called to go far from the endearments of home, cheerfully complying, enduring some hardships and trials, it is true, but graciously sustained under them all—all his temporal wants supplied, and in old age surrounded by the comforts of life,—but especially blessed in spiritual things—the work of the Lord prospering in his hand, the wilderness and the solitary place becoming glad for him—living to sec many congregations which he bad been the means either of founding or of cherishing in their infancy—and in old age venerated through more than one Province, and dying amid wide-spread expressions of sorrow; the other refusing a similar call, and toiling in poverty—his labours blighted—and ending his days with his character under a cloud.

But his disappointment as to Mr. MacBean was followed by another of the same kind. At the same meeting of Synod at which he was appointed to Pictou, Mr. John Cree was appointed to Amherst, with liberty to return in three years if he pleased, and consented to go. Dr. MacGregor received intelligence of this, and his heart was filled with joy. For some months, as appears from the above letter, he continued in this expectation ; but. his hopes met with a most disheartening disappointment. The Presbytery of Glasgow, which had been appointed to meet proronala to receive his trials for ordination, had met and received part of them; “but,” says Mr. Buist some days after, “I received a letter, saying, that his friends had persuaded him, that it was so bad a climate in Nova Scotia, that it rained half the year, and was so cold in winter, that he could not stand it, as in cold, damp weather his throat was like to close—that it was better to break his promise, than to go and be useless; in a word that he was determined not to go.”

From the letter above, it will be seen that “patience had its perfect work,” and that he became resigned to such disappointments. Mr. Buist says also, “I am glad that you have taken the disappointment so well as to Mr. MacBean.” But, in his solitary position, and with so many places around him clamorous for the bread of life, these disappointments, particularly after the persons had solemnly promised to come, and for months he was in the expectation of their early arrival, were among the keenest of his earthly trials. In one of these years, so confidently did he expect one to come to his assistance, that he deferred the communion in expectation of his arrival. But at length when the time appointed was approaching, he received intelligence that he was not coming. Donald MacKay, his host, entering his room about the time, found him lying on the floor, apparently giving up in despair. “What’s the matter with you now?” said Donald. He told him of his disappointment, and Donald began to cheer him. He arose, and in a little said, “I must go for assistance, where I have often gone before, and never have been disappointed yet.” He accordingly set to work at liis preparation for the services, and went through them with great comfort to himself and satisfaction to the people.

The letter referred to, which he wrote in the year 1792, was printed by order of Synod, with notes by a committee, consisting of Revs. John Buist, Archibald Bruce, and James Robertson. It is the most impressive appeal of the kind we have ever read. We insert a copy of it among his Remains, as we are certain it will be read with interest. It was read from the pulpit in all the congregations belonging to the Synod, and was productive of good results. It was the means, not only of exciting an interest, through the church at home, in the state of Nova Scotia, but also, as we shall afterward bear, of bringing several ministers to Nova Scotia.

It is but just to remark, that the Synod made every effort to obtain preachers to come to his assistance—that they made appointments for those whom they thought suitable, and took every step, short of actual suspension, to induce them to come, but hitherto had always been unsuccessful. We find Mr. Buist’s letters full of the subject, stating the various efforts made, and making inquiries as to the suitableness of this or that individual of his acquaintance. And we may remark that the Synod did not appoint persons who might be willing to go without regard to their qualifications. We find, for example, in 1794, a person volunteering to go, but his application delayed from doubts as to his suitableness.

“This year4 arrived two vessels loaded with emigrants, almost all Roman Catholics, from the Western Islands of Scotland. It was so late in the season when they arrived, that few of them could provide houses for their families before winter. I entreated my people to be kind to them, and help them to the best accommodation they could, especially during the winter, God having given them a special opportunity of attending to the scriptural injunction, ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.’ I was delighted with the readiness with which the congregation complied with my entreaty. Their benevolence far exceeded my expectation, and afforded a beautiful evidence of the power of divine truth, and the amiable spirit of Christianity; and to this day these Roman Catholics retain a grateful sense of the kindness they then experienced. Several hundreds of them, of all ages, found the best shelter that could be obtained till they could provide for themselves. Such as could pay, had it at a very moderate price; and those who could not, had it gratis.

“Many of them came to hear sermon for a time, and there was a fair prospect that numbers of them would become Protestant Presbyterians; but priest MacEachran, in Prince Edward Island, hearing of their critical situation, paid them a visit, told them of the danger of living among Protestants, advised them to leave Pictou, to go eastward along the Gulf Shore to Cape Breton, where Protestants would not trouble them, and threatened them with excommunication if they would come to hear my preaching. A good number of them obeyed him instantly, and the rest by degrees, except a very few who embraced my gospel. In general they left off hearing, and quitted their settlements in Pictou—and not a few of them with much reluctance.

“But they were more dangerous guests in the congregation than I was aware of; not from the strength of their arguments for Popish doctrines, but from the powerful influence of their profane conversation. Much of their time was spent in naughty diversions, jestings which are not convenient or decent, in telling extravagant stories of miracles done by priests, and absurd talks about ghosts, witches, fairies, &c. The minds of the Protestant Highlanders, being partly tinctured with these superstitions before the arrival of the Roman Catholics, were less prepared to resist their influence than the minds of more reasoning and sceptical Christians. They had been pretty much weaned from the remains which the first settlers brought from Scotland, but this new flood overwhelmed them. They proved so agreeable to the fancy of simple and untutored minds as to turn many to fables, and in some degree to injure those who did not believe them. To this day we have not got wholly over these bad lessons. What poor Christians must the Catholics be, who have these things for their Bible! What miserable teachers are the priests, who prohibit the use of the Scriptures, and teach pure fables!"

The descendants of these people, with numerous other emigrants of the same class, arc still very numerous in the eastern parts of the Province, and also in Prince Edward Island, lie showed them great kindness. As they were all newly beginning io the woods, a gift which lie gave to numbers of them was an axe and a hoe. They came to regard him with great veneration, supposing him to possess the powers which they attributed to their own priests, and giving him honour accordingly. Two amusing anecdotes of this may be given. It was a superstition of the Highlanders, that if an animal went astray a good man could tell where it was. One of these, having lost a horse, came to the Doctor to seek his assistance to find it. It had so happened that the day previous being Sabbath, the Doctor, on his way from preaching at the Upper Settlement, had seen a horse by the way-side, and horses being then rare, his attention was arrested by it. On the man’s coming to him he recollected the circumstance, but began to reason with him on the folly of supposing that he should be able to discover his horse. The man was going away in despair, and still believing that it was from want of will rather than want of power, that he did not tell where the horse was; when the Doctor said, “ Well, don’t despond. I saw a horse at such a place, and perhaps he is yours.” The man went to the place indicated, and found the horse, and, ever after believed that it was by the Spirit of God that the Doctor had discovered where it was.

On another occasion, a woman had a cow under some complaint. She was convinced that he could cure it, if he chose, and he happening to be at her place, she pressed him to go to see the cow. He told her that he could do nothing for her. She, however, insisted; urging him only to lay his hand upon her. As she would take no denial, he, at length went, and laying a rod which lie had in his hand upon her back, he said, “If you live you live, and if you die you die.” The cow recovered. Some time after, the Doctor himself had a sore throat, and this old woman came to see him. As soon as she entered the room, she said, “Ah, if you live you live, and if you die you die.” He immediately recollected the circumstance, and he burst out laughing, which broke the abscess that had been forming, which discharged, and he soon got better. Their gratitude for the kindness they experienced from him was great, and to this day there is retained among them a deep veneration for his memory.

As the superstitions of the Highlanders are here referred to, we may mention that, throughout his whole ministerial career, he had more or less of this to contend with, both in public and private. On one of his papers we find the following memorandum, as if of subjects on which he meant to address them :—

“ Thursday marriages—and going that night to the brides,— afraid of dogs,—bride-cake.

Prejudice against inoculation.

Christmas holiday.

Witches taking the milk from the cows.

Wonderful stories of ghosts, fairies, and

Miracles and prophecies.

Cannot go to sermon in time of proclamation, and before baptism of child.”

These and similar points, he was often called upon to discuss, both publicly and privately. Some of them disturbed the peace of the church. The witch controversy, especially, as we shall see, excited much attention. In the meantime we may give one or two incidents, which severely tried his own faith in the doctrines which he was so often called upon to maintain, regarding ghosts. On one occasion, returning home late at night, in fact, near that hour, “of nicht’s black arch the keystane,” which, according to all authorities in such matters, is specially favoured by ghosts and witches, he saw, by the light of the moon, a figure in white standing apparently in mid air ahead of him, close by the road. His horse was startled, and so was he for a little himself, but he immediately saw that it would never answer for him to draw back or to show fear. He accordingly went up to it and found that it was a poor, insane woman, living close by, who had left her bed at that time of night, and wrapping the sheet round her, had taken that position on a stump. At another time a report had arisen that at a certain place on the East River, something had been seen. Several individuals reported so, but no precise account of its nature or appearance could be given, for, in fact none had courage to examine. One night, the Doctor riding home past this place, also saw something. It appeared bright, and shining under the rays of the moon. He rode up to it without discovering what it was, till he came close to it, and gave it a tap with his rod, when he found it to be a very large hornets’ nest. On another occasion, going along the road at night, he saw something white on the road, and on going toward it, it moved from him. He pursued it, but still it seemed determined to avoid him. At length, after a vigorous chase he caught it, and found it to be a sheet, or some white article of apparel, driven by the wind. This last incident Mr. Ross used to make the subject of many a joke.

His labours for the spiritual good of these people were not in vain, as appears from the remaining part of his account of them.

“Four of these Catholics became converts—one of whom deserves more particular notice than the rest. She was a smart woman, but a complete bigot to Popery, and her husband was a Protestant. They had agreed very well in Scotland, because the principal difference in their religious profession was in name; but when they came to Pictou, he became seriously concerned about his soul; and among other changes which took place in his conduct, was the setting up of the worship of God in his family, morning and evening. This she could not bear, and thought it her duty, as she could not prevent it, to disturb it as much as she could. He resented this; and the consequence was, that she left his house. He was vexed, and came to ask my advice. I advised him to go after her, to speak kindly to her, to invite her home in the most affectionate manner, to promise that he would never disturb her devotion, and to demand that she should not disturb his, either in the family or the closet. He took the advice, and brought her home. Soon after she brought him a child ; and happening to meet him a day or two after, he said he was in some difficulty about the baptism of the child, as there was no woman near to suckle it, and she would not carry it to the meeting-house herself, as she would not hear me preach. Having occasion, in two or three days’ time, to be near his house, I proposed to preach a sermon at his house then, and baptize the child, when she would be obliged to hear, because she could not run off. This proposal pleased him. He advertised his neighbours, and, on the day appointed, I went. On entering the house I found a number of the neighbours collected, and saw her lying in a corner. She met my eyes with a most piercing and disdainful look. I asked her how she did. She replied, ‘As well as I could expect.’ I said, ‘You ought to be very thankful, then.’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I soon began public worship by singing and prayer, and could not help looking towards her before reading out the text. I noticed that her looks were changed to mildness, and took courage. The text was Acts xvi. 31: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ I endeavoured to show our need of salvation, that Christ bestows it freely, and that believing in him is the means of possessing it. She appeared to drink in every word with eagerness. She never showed the least desire, after that day, to see the priest: and she has ever since maintained the character of a pious, prudent, and zealous Christian.

We shall conclude this chapter with an account of an interesting- journey of which he takes no notice, performed as nearly as we can ascertain in the winter of 1793, viz., to River John, Tatamairouche, and Wallace. These places are situated on the North Shore of the Province, at distances respectively of eighteen, thirty-two, and fifty miles from Pictou to the Westward.

The settlers in River John, and most of those in Tatamagouche, were Protestants from the continent of Europe. One or two families were the descendants of French Huguenots, who had left their native land at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The others were Swiss.

On their first settlement in Tatamagouche, they endured great hardships, having often to carry potatoes on their backs from Truro, a distance of thirty miles, and having frequently to resort to some plants growing on the marsh, which when boiled made a palatable sort of greens. At the time of his first visiting them, the New Lights had come among them and had got the people into a state of the wildest excitement, when John Langill and George Patriquin, of River John, afterward elders in the congregation there, started on snow shoes to endeavour to induce Doctor MacGregor to visit them. The Doctor at once set out with them. Between Pictou and River John was an unbroken forest. There was not even a blaze, neither was there a single settler on the shore between the two places. They started from about where the Three Mile House now stands, of course on snow shoes, and directing their course by means of a pocket compass, they came out at Man of War Point as it is called, about a mile up the river from where the village now stands. There were then only six families in the settlement of the class already described, who had removed from Tatamagouche in consequence of Col. Des Barres refusing to sell his lands. He preached in a private house, visited them all, and baptized a number of children. He quieted the minds of the people and entirely stopped the progress of the New Lights.

He next proceeded to Tatamagouche. Between the two places there was neither path nor blaze, the usual way of travelling being either by water or walking along shore. This place, however, had originally been settled by the French, who had made considerable progress. A considerable extent of land on the shores of the Bay and Harbour, from below the church to MacCulley’s had been cleared by them, and the furrows were still visible. The intervale both on Waugh’s River and French River had also been cultivated by them, and on the former they had commenced the smelting of copper. They had, however, abandoned the country after the peace of 1703. There were, however, still to be seen the remains of their grist mills. Traces also of a grave yard, with the cross still standing at the head of the graves, and of a Romish chapel, were to be seen between what is now Mr. Wm. Campbell’s field and the school-house. There were then but fourteen families in the settlement. Of these three were Scotch, and the rest of the class already described, all Protestants, the latter Lutherans and the former Presbyterians. They were not careless about religious matters, as they were in the habit of meeting on the Sabbath day and having prayers read. They had secured the services of a Mr. Kelley, as a teacher to their families, an intelligent, amiable, and industrious man, to whom they all became much attached, and through whom they obtained instruction in the elementary branches of education. Only a few of the old people could not read or speak English. This Kelley, however, set out for Truro, but never returned. Afterwards his body was found near a pond where he had perished of cold and hunger, after having created a slight shelter and made a fire. His loss proved a great injury to the moral and religious improvement of the people. There were no roads beyond the immediate bounds of the settlement, and even, within these bounds, they were scarcely passable at certain seasons of the year.

The weather was very stormy during his visit, so that he did not travel much. He lodged at the house of Mr. Wellwood Waugh, on Waugh’s Biver, and persons wishing baptism came there to converse with him before Sabbath. On that day he preached at the house of a Mr. James Bigney, which stood in what is now Mr. William Campbell’s field near the Bank. A number came from Wallace and other places adjacent, and so large was the assembly, or so small the building, that when parents held up children to be baptized, they had to go into the open air to find standing room.

On the following day he proceeded to Wallace, then called Ramshing, where he went through similar services. The number of families there was about twenty, mostly loyalists from New York. He then returned home, having spent altogether between three and four weeks on the mission.

We may mention that two years after he undertook a similar mission, but this time it was in summer, and he went along the shore to River John. But we have gleaned no particular information regarding it. About eighteen years later, a large immigration of Highlanders took place, who settled on the opposite side of Wallace Bay, whom he and the other members of the Presbytery visited occasionally.

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