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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XIV. - From the arrival of Messrs Brown and Ross till his Marriage, 1795 - 1796


“Two are better than one; they have a good reward for their labour.—And a threefold cord is not easily broken.” Eecl. iv. 9, 12. “ It is not good that the man should be alone.” Gen. ii. 18.

1795. This year was to him a memorable one, as the year in which, after years of lonely toil, and numerous disappointments, it was his privilege, in answer to many prayers, to welcome two fellow-labourers come to take part with him in the ministry. It is scarcely possible for us to conceive the importance of such an event to him, or the joy of which it was the occasion. For nine years he had been enduring most arduous toil, without the support, the sympathy, or the counsel of a brother in the ministry—and even in a great measure deprived of the society of men of intelligence and education. He felt the loss for himself, for “as iron sharpeneth iron, so a man’s countenance his friend,” but much more so on account of numbers perishing around him, with none to care for their souls. Not only was his own congregation in need of assistance, and requiring more labour than he was able to afford, but settlements all around were clamouring for the bread of life; petition after petition had gone home in every form of moving appeal, and letter after letter had he sent to the Synod, and to friends, in every variety of melting entreaty on their behalf, only to receive barren expresssions of sympathy. Fervent and importunate supplication had he made to ascend before the Lord of the Harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest; and though his prayers were not unheard, the promise still tarried, and he had felt that hope deferred maketh the heart sick. Appointments had been once and again made by the Synod, and his expectations were raised only to end in bitter disappointment. And now, at length, his prayers were to be answered. “The time to favour” this portion of the church, even the set time had come, and he was to receive the assistance of two faithful brethren. We need not wonder that his joy was extravagant.

The men whom God had kindly brought to his assistance, were men for whom he had reason to bless the Author of all natural and spiritual gifts. Mr. Ross was a man of more than ordinary powers of mind, a clear thinker, a forcible writer, possessing a sound practical judgment, that rendered him valuable in the transaction of the public business of the church, and a pleasant humour which rendered him the delightful companion of private life, though not possessing so much of those qualities of voice and outward manner, commonly called popular talents, by which many men of inferior talents would excite more of public attention. Mr. Brown again, without the reasoning powers of Mr. Boss, was more distinguished as a man of amiable character, who would, in every position in which Providence might have placed him, have won the blessing of the peacemaker. They were both men who preached the gospel faithfully, both men who loved the prosperity of Zion, and both men whose private society was a pleasure.

The manner of their appointment was also interesting. They were not seized upon by the Synod and banished to America by the stern fiat of ecclesiastical authority, they were not men of that class whom the churches in Scotland have sometimes sent to the Western Continent, who having made a fair trial of their gifts and being found unsuitable for Scotland were regarded as therefore perfectly fitted for the colonies. They came in the spirit of self-dedication to the work, and it was to him peculiarly gratifying, that he was the direct means in the hands of Providence of leading them to this country. When students of Theology of two years standing, attending the Hall at Whitburn, they were so moved by Doctor MacGregor’s appeals, particularly his letter of 1792, that they pledged themselves to one another, that if spared to complete their studies, and receive license, they would go to his assistance. To bind themselves more securely, they put their engagement in writing, and signed their names to it. The paper containing this engagement was accidentally left in one of the books of the Library, which they had been perusing. The Librarian having discovered it there, carried it to the Professor, who made known its contents to the Synod, who resolved to make them ready without delay, and at their session in 1794 ordered them to be taken on trials for license, after the forthcoming session of the Hall, and to proceed to Nova Scotia on the following spring. As Mr. Ross used humorously to describe it, they were lectured for one season on heresy, and another on superstition, and then banished to America.

They sailed for New York in the spring of 1795, and landed there on the 27th May. Thence they sailed for Halifax. They staid there a few days, and preached one Sabbath. And thence proceeded to Pictou, Mr. Ross by land, and Mr. Brown by water. But we must allow the Doctor himself to describe their arrival in Pictou.

“In June I heard with joy and wonder of the appointment, and soon of the arrival of Messrs. Brown and Boss. I gave heartfelt thanks to God for his goodness in sending them, and prayed that he might make them a blessing. I provided men and horses, and went with great alacrity to meet them. We met Mr. Boss at Truro, in the house of the Bev. Mr. Coek. He informed us that Mr. Brown and his wife had gone to Pictou by water. Nest day we returned to Pictou, and very shortly Mr. and Mrs. Brown arrived there also in good health. They all stayed for a little time in Pictou to refresh themselves. Meantime the Sacrament of the Supper was dispensed. Messrs. Brown and Boss assisted in preaching and serving the tables. The younger part of the congregation were surprised at the exact agreement of the doctrines and prayers of the old and the new ministers. They had heard the new ministers with the utmost attention, and they could not observe the least inconsistency. 'It seemed as if my tongue had been in their mouths. I was delighted with this agreeable evidence of their attention in hearing, as I was satisfied of its justice. At the conclusion of this Sacrament, I could not but admire the goodness of God.

"I had been alone nine long years.”

One or two incidents connected with their arrival may be here given. When the Doctor met Mr. Ross at Truro, the latter was dressed in the fashion, having his hair duly powdered; but the former being accustomed to the woods, and being on a journey, was roughly clad, and his coat had even a hole at the elbow. Mr. Boss with his usual love of fun, putting his finger into the hole, said, “Are you a beggarman?” “Oh,” was the reply, “when you are as long in the woods as I have been, you will have holes in your coat too.” Mr. Boss remained to preach a Sabbath in Truro, so that Mr. Brown was the first to arrive in Pictou. The following interesting incident of their meeting was given us by Mr. John Douglass. As the latter with one or two other lads were preparing the seats on the Intervale at Middle River on the morning of the Fast day, Doctor MacGregor came along from the East River. He informed them that he was going to meet a new minister. They asked if they might accompany him. lie replied, “Oh, yes.” They proceeded along the left bank of the river, and soon met Mr. Brown in company with Mr. Mortimer. After exchanging salutations the Doctor said, “Now you’ll preach, Mr. Brown.” “Oh, you’ll preach yourself,” said Mr. Brown. “Would you ask me to preach that has not heard a sermon for nine years?” was Mr. MacGregor’s appeal. Mr. Brown could not resist this, and immediately replied, “Say no more, I’ll preach.” He accordingly did so on the words of the prophet, “This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness.” The Doctor listened with intense delight, and when Mr. Brown had finished, and the Gaelic service was about to begin, he rose and said, “My friends, I have been praying for years for a minister to come to us, and I hope that you have been praying for one too, and now God has sent us one and you have heard him, and see that he is a good gospel minister. Let us return thanks.” He then began to pray, and as my informant expressed it, “he fell a crying,” and the congregation were almost equally affected, but he went on to pour forth his soul in thanksgiving to the Giver of all good with a fervency long remembered.

Arrangements were made for having full services according to the usual practice at that time both in English and Gaelic, Messrs. Brown and Ross conducting the former and the Doctor the latter. On the Monday he shortened the service in Gaelic, and went over to where the English service was, and when Mr. Ross finished, he seized him in his arms and held him in a long embrace.

The next step was to form themselves into a Presbytery. This was done on the 7th July, the place of meeting being Robert Marshall’s barn, being chosen as central for the whole of Pictou. “By the direction of Synod, the three ministers formed ourselves into a Presbytery, denominated the Associate Presbytery of Nova Scotia. On this occasion I preached on Neh. ii. 20, ‘The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build.’ The Session of Pictou appointed one of their number to attend the Presbytery. Mr. Ross was appointed to preach at different places in Prince Edward Island, and Mr. Brown at Londonderry and Onslow.”

As a Presbytery wras now constituted, some picture of its meetings may be given. Prom the character of the men who composed it, we need not say that they were scenes of brotherly love and hallowed enjoyment. The same remark will apply both when the Presbytery consisted of these three, and afterward when joined by Mr. Dick and Doctor MacCulloch. The strongest feelings of personal attachment sprung up between all the members, founded on personal esteem, and each was ready to co-operate with the other in every good work. They seldom were permitted to meet one another from distance and the difficulty of travelling, and hence their meetings of Presbytery, as almost the only occasions, when they could enjoy each other’s society, were looked forward to with eager anticipation. Doctor MacGregor’s family recollect that he would count the days till the time of meeting, and as it eame near, he could sometimes scarcely sit still from excitement. The occasions of their meetings were commonly the times of the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Supper in their various congregations. When it seemed necessary to meet on other occasions, the place of meeting was usually Mr. Christie’s house, Salmon River, as midway between the brethren in Pictou and those in Londonderry and Shubenacadie.

When they did assemble, their meetings were scenes of rich enjoyment. Business we fear was often a secondary matter. We have been told, that they settled what business they had to do sitting round the fire smoking their pipes. At all events for five years they kept no minutes. But their meetings were scenes of genuine and hearty Christian fellowship. Their success or their trials in the work of their common Lord were told to those, from whom they met with a ready sympathy. The doings of God with the nations of the earth (for those were times in which his judgments were abroad) and the state of the church throughout the world, excited speculation or called out their expressions of awe for his judgments, and gratitude for his mercies. The intelligence from the old world was then received at distant intervals, and for much of what they received of an ecclesiastical nature, they were indebted to their correspondence with private friends. But the more rarely it came the richer treat did it afford, and especially when the great movements of the present age for missions and the circulation of the Scriptures commenced, they found subjects on which they loved to commune with peculiar and hallowed delight. At other times the meaning of particular passages of Scripture or the prophecies, especially in their bearing upon the movements of their own day or the glorious things spoken of the future of Zion, of which the movements of our day seemed to be the foretaste —formed the subjects of discussion, and thus hour after hour went by, and they felt as if they could not separate.

But we must not suppose that all was grave discussion. On the contrary they, on such occasions, loved to unbend themselves, and many a scene of harmless merriment was mingled with more serious discussion. Mr. Ross’s ready humour was always provocative of mirth, while Doctor MacCulloch’s brilliant “crackling thoughts,” as Doctor Heugh described them, added a peculiar zest to their fellowship. Then came the amusing anecdotes, the harmless banter, the keen encounter of wit, causing the whole to be interspersed with roars of laughter, which sometimes astonished simple folk, who, beholding them only amid the solemnities of sacred things, were not prepared to see them giving way to such levity. Doctor MacGregor, it will be seen by his productions, had a vein of humour, and could take his share in the fun, but he was an older man than the rest, and generally more grave, so that when their mirth grew rather uproarious he would check them; and he seemed always glad to draw the conversation into other channels, particularly to what was doing for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. In this way their conversation extended far into the night, or toward morning. One person has told me that he has seen them continue till the day began to break, and then without undressing throw themselves on a bed to snatch a few moments’ repose before proceeding on their respective courses. We do not say that a shade of improper feeling never clouded for a moment the brightness of their fellowship. But we do say that it is rarely that we behold so beautiful, so uninterrupted, and so long continued illustration of the saying of scripture, “Behold, how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

After the formation of the Presbytery, the next step was the determination of their respective spheres of labour, and their settlement in them. This he describes as follows:

“1796.—At next meeting of Presbytery there were two calls for each of them. Mr. Boss had a call from Pictou, and Princetown iu Prince Edward Island) Mr. Brown, from Londonderry and Amherst. The Presbytery appointed Mr. Boss to Pictou, and Mr. Brown to Londonderry,—both decisions as contrary to my thoughts as could be, for I had appointed Mr. Boss to Princetown, and Mr. Brown to Amherst. I bowed however to the will of Providence, and consoled myself with the thought that disappointed places would get more supply of sermon than hitherto. Mr. Brown was settled at Londonderry, (where he is still acceptable), but Amherst was so disappointed that a number of them sold their farms and went off to other parts of the Province and to the United States. Amherst got another minister long after who left them, and they are now vacant.

“Pictou was divided into three congregations, as it was not doubted that a third minister would soon be needed. Mr. Boss had the West River, and I the East. The Harbour was reserved for a third minister; but, meantime, Mr. Boss and I agreed to preach alternately to them.

“As soon as Mr. Boss and I were fixed in our respective congregations in Pictou, Merigomish, fifteen miles to the East, and Stewiaeke, twenty or twenty-five miles to the South West, both of which I had occasionally supplied before, petitioned for a supply of our services statedly to the extent of one fourth or one-fifth of our time. With our consent these petitions were granted; till we should tire of going to them. This was a great addition to our toil, yet we endured it for a number of years. But after some years’ time, both these places got ministers to themselves. Merigomish got Mr. Patrick from Scotland, and Stewiaeke got Mr. Graham from Cornwallis in this Province by transportation.”

About these settlements, we cannot but feel that the Doctor’s views were prompted by a view of the necessities of the different places, and that the arrangement adopted was much less fitted to meet the wants of the church. By it Prince Edward Island was left entirely without a minister, and Amherst, which was the first place to seek one, was again disappointed. In the latter place the Presbyterian cause never recovered from the disappointment. The few who remained in connection with the Presbytery received supply of preaching for a time, and after several years obtained a succession of ministers, who, however, failed in reparing their breaches. The first was Mr. Mitchell, of the London Missionary Society, who discouraged, left them after a few years’ labour. He was followed by Mr. Liddle of the secession, who after three years left them, both parties being dissatisfied, and much ill-feeling between them. At his departure the heart of Presbyterianism seemed thoroughly broken. Those who retained the name lost all hope of ever seeing the thing revived, and many gave up the name altogether. Other denominations took advantage of this state of things, to advance their own interests; and to crown their disasters, they received as their minister one of those vagrants, who had adopted the ministerial name without the ministerial character, and who left Presbyterianism there, not only with its ranks broken, but with an unpleasant savour.

They have more recently, however obtained, the services of the Rev. Alexander Clarke, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, whose labours extending over a large surrounding country, have been blessed to the founding of a number of churches, and who has now three fellow-labourers within the sphere of his original circuit.

But some interesting circumstances may be here mentioned regarding the division of labour between the two Pictou ministers. The people there had been very willing to receive the services of a second minister, but when it was proposed to divide the congregation in two, the one part to receive the services of Doctor MacGregor, and the other of Mr. Ross, the whole congregation was in a flame, no part being willing to give up the services of the former. Mr. Ross bore the discussions that took place very good humoredly, involving as they did the assumption of his inferiority. Mr. Otterson, of Truro, said to him, “This is not very encouraging to you, Mr. Ross.” “Oh, yes,” said he, “it is. "What better encouragement could I wish, than to see people so unwilling to give up the man, who had laboured among them for nine years? When I have laboured as long among them, I hope they will be as unwilling to part with me.”

To decide the question as to which side of the congregation each should have as the sphere of his labours, it was resolved to appeal to the lot. Viewing this as a religious ordinance, they proceeded in the matter with all due solemnity. The whole was done in the Presbytery duly constituted. The Moderator offered prayer, and then the papers containing the places for each were drawn by Thomas Fraser, Elder of the East River. The decision was that Doctor MacGregor should go to the East River. The people on the West River, however, were dissatisfied, and accused Mr. Fraser of having seen the papers that contained the names, and of having drawn with that knowledge. A second trial was resolved upon. Two young boys were selected to draw the lots, and the same process was gone through with all due solemnity. But this time the lot fell to the West River. Doctor MacGregor, however, disapproved altogether of the second trial, regarding it as a tempting of Providence, and when urged to carry out the decision of the lot he positively refused, saying, that it was to the East River he ought to go, and to the East River he would go. When the West River pressed their claims, he told them that if they did get him it would not be a blessing. This cooled a number of them to him, their pride was a little wounded, and they became more willing to receive the services of Mr. Ross.

An arrangement was made, that, while Doctor MacGregor should be on the East River and Mr. Ross on the West, they should exchange preaching a certain number of days.

They continued to labour thus for a period of about five years, Doctor MacGregor on the east side of the congregation, embracing the Upper and Lower Settlements of the East River and Merigomish, and Mr. Ross on the West, embracing the West River and the Harbour, and going part of his time to Stewiacke; but there was no distinct division of the congregation, Mr. Ross being inducted as minister of Pictou, jointly with Doctor MacGregor.

Matters did not go on altogether smoothly under this arrangement. It was not altogether satisfactory to the ministers. And the people on the west side were still dissatisfied, and toward the close of the year 1800 they again made application to the Presbytery, either to have Doctor MacGregor as minister of that portion of the congregation, or to have him labour jointly with Mr. Ross over the whole. The result of this movement was a division of the congregation into three, the East River, the West River, and the Harbour. Doctor MacGregor continued on the East River. Mr. Ross demitted his charge, and received a call anew to the West River, while the Harbour remained vacant.

A party on the West River, however, still continued dissatisfied with Mr. Ross, and for a time went over to the East River to attend Doctor MacGregor’s preaching, and when Doctor Mac-Culloch was settled in town, they went, there to hear him. To the present generation, it will be somewhat surprising that a number of the most intelligent men on the West River, and these not Highlanders, who might have been supposed to have been attracted to Doctor MacGregor by language and country, then spoke in the most disparaging terms of Mr. Ross’s preaching. But the truth seems to have been that they were so blinded by their attachment to Doctor MacGregor, that when another was brought into competition with him they could see no good in him whatever. We may mention that they all at length fell in with Mr. Boss, and some of them became his most attached friends. One of them was in the habit of saying, “ I once joined a faction, but I wadna do it again, if I should live a thousand years.”

After his settlement, Mr. Boss went to Stewiacke, for thirteen Sabbaths in the year. He ordained Elders there, and for two or three seasons dispensed the Sacrament of the Supper, with the assistance of Doctor MacGregor and Mr. Brown. A party here, however, adhered to the Presbytery of Truro, and having obtained the services of the Bev. Hugh Graham, Mr. Boss said he had not freedom to go any longer, as he considered that his doing so would only be perpetuating division, and urged his friends to unite with Mr. Graham. Some of them held aloof for a time, but through the conciliatory manner of the latter they were ultimately led to connect themselves with his congregation.

We must now turn to a settlement of another character.

"Sometime this year Mr. Boss came to my lodging, riding on a large majestic horse, which he said was his own. This made me think seriously about getting a horse too. Time, and the increase of settlers, had made a considerable change for the better on the roads. I saw also some of my hearers riding to church, and, though not with ease, yet I thought with more ease than walking; so I bought a horse. I needed him as much as ever, for a new meeting house was now built, ten miles farther up than the first. I had no ease by the arrival of Mr. Boss, for I had to preach Sabbath about at the upper meeting house, as distant as the West River, besides going to Merigomish.

“Some time after I saw Mr. Ross again, and he informed me of a lot of land that he was buying, with a view to marriage and a settled life. I thought that I needed to do hoth these things too, and accordingly did them within the year.”

A writer in a periodical lately remarks, “Let a biographer, in writing the life of a grave divine, whose voice has been often heard in Synod or Assembly, relate, a few well authenticated anecdotes of his courtship; of his quarrels with his heritors or elders, of his feats of strength, agility, and physical courage, and he would certainly be severely censured. But why should he? Might he not by so doing furnish means of forming a more accurate estimate of his hero’s character, and afford more curious matter of speculation to the inquisitive observer of human life and manners, than can be found either in letters or diaries?” In the force of the above remarks we entirely concur, and as the circumstances of the Doctor’s marriage were perfectly unique, and as they illustrate his situation and the state of the country at the time, we shall furnish some details on the subject. And when we consider at what length that volume, which contains the highest models of biography, relates the nuptials of Isaac, we are not without inspired authority for so doing.

When he left Scotland he went forth alone. This we believe was a necessity, for we have been informed that he sought at that time a young lady, to whom he afterwards applied; but her friends objected against the union, because she was “owre young to marry yet,” and for other good and sufficient reasons, as they deemed them. After his arrival he felt that it was “not good for man to be alone.” His unmarried state gave occasion to the malicious to circulate stories about him. The individual, already mentioned as distinguished through life for his enmity to him and the gospel, went so far as to attempt to bribe a servant girl in the house, and she was a Catholic too, with a present of a gown, then an article of value, to declare before the Session, that he had sought criminal intercourse with her. And although the girl had conscience enough to expose the plot, yet such things were fitted to injure his reputation. Besides, as has been already remarked, he was far from having such a state of things in his lodgings as was desirable either for his comfort or usefulness.

Efforts were therefore made in various quarters to obtain a helpmeet, and it is both amusing and instructive to look back on the difficulties which he had in accomplishing that end. His thoughts naturally reverted to the object of his youthful affection, but to his application to her fond parent, a worthy antiburgher minister under whom he had spent part of his youthful days, there came the following response: "Though I am persuaded you are not serious in what you wrote, yet as you are at so great a distance, I think it friendly to say that what you propose by way of question, were you in earnest, would never be consented to by any person concerned. The person you speak of has not either qualifications of body or mind for undergoing the hardships of such a long voyage and journey. I really think that you should try to provide yourself with one in Nova Scotia.” Again, to another, likewise the daughter of an antiburgher minister, we find among his correspondence the following allusions. His good friend, Mr. Buist, says in a letter, “As to Miss B-n, if you can get her to come I will put her into the hands of a captain, who will send her safe to Halifax, and if such a thing should be I will get her passage at least part paid if I can.” But the following came as a damper from the fair one’s anxious parent. “I am much obliged to you for the affection and esteem you express of Anny. I doubt not but it is mutual, otherwise she might have been settled ere now. But I really think that Divine Providence has thwarted your mutual intention in setting you so far distant from each other. Although it has been the fashion for years, that British ladies take a sail to the East Indies to be married, and even to seek husbands, yet this piece of modern female fashion Anny does not choose to imitate, as judging it not quite so becoming her sex. Dear brother, Providence, which orders every man’s lot, and which seems to have forbid the wished for union, knows what is best for you both, and its own intention toward you; it is duty therefore to submit to the disposal thereof. You have certainly the best wishes of all of us. While I have written as above, I suppose that by this time you have united to some agreeable young lady. If so, I sincerely wish you much joy.”'

To those who knew the Doctor in his later years, when far and near throughout these Lower Provinces he was regarded with a veneration similar to what we may suppose the apostle John to have enjoyed at Ephesus in his old age from the whole of Asia Minor, and when abroad his heavenly character, and self-denying labours and sacrifices, had won him the esteem of many of the most eminent in the church, it will be interesting to observe the difficulty he had in the early stage of his career, in obtaining a suitable partner to share with him his labours and troubles; and we doubt not that the want of a helpmeet for him greatly increased the burden of his cares. The want of the ministering of gentle woman deprived him of many outward comforts, and the want of her soothing influence made his trials press with heavier weight upon his spirit.

For five or six years after the above correspondence we know of no efforts that were made to supply the want, but the matter occupied the attention of busy-bodies. At length, encouraged as it would appear by Mr. Ross’s success, he resolved on an effort on this side the Atlantic. But there were none in his congregation possessing the qualifications deemed requisite for the station, and he had no time to spare from his onerous duties to look abroad. lie was therefore under the necessity of being guided by the opinions of others. From several quarters he received the highest recommendations of Miss Ann Maclvay, daughter of Mr. Roderick MacKay. But having no time to spare for those interesting attentions by which the hearts of gentle maidens are won, and scarcely having seen her, or forming any judgment of her by personal acquaintance, ho wrote to her, stating his circumstances, and putting the all important question. The forwarding of his communication was not so simple a matter as we moderns would suppose. There was no regular mail communication between Pictou and the capital,* and the usual mode of conveyance was by special messenger. We have heard, too, that in those times, when every person knew every other person, over an extent of two or three counties, and their business too, it was not uncommon to show their friendly interest in each other’s welfare by freely opening one another’s letters. Independent of this the business itself was one requiring a messenger, with all the faithfulness of an Eliezer. Such an one was found in the late Andrew Marshall, who performed his mission with all the zeal for his minister’s honour and comfort, all the tact and all the faithfulness of Abraham’s steward, and had it to tell of to his dying day, and with no small feeling of self-importance.

We may here remark that her father was one of three brothers who emigrated from the neighbourhood of Inverness to Pictou, in its early settlement, two of them in the ship Hector, and one a short time after. The eldest, Alexander, had been a soldier, and had seen hard service under General Wolfe; having been seven weeks in the expedition against Louisburg, without changing his clothes, and having been in the thickest of the fight, on the plains of Abraham. Of one member of his family we shall have occasion to speak presently. The second, Donald, was the Elder, who was long the Doctor’s firmest support. The third, Roderick, father of the bride, was a man in some respects like them. He had a quick off-hand manner, and was distinguished by great boldness and determination.

His wife was very respectably connected, and through the interest of her friends he had obtained a situation in the DockYard, at Halifax, whither he moved from Pictou. She was a woman of great firmness and strength of mind, of which the following incident may be cited as proof. When the first settlers arrived in Pictou the Indians were very bold, and the Whites were afraid of them. She, however, never yielded to them, and when they came into her house she feared not even to scold them if they took any undue liberties. On one occasion some of them coming in, asked her, “What news?” She replied, “Aha! great news. There is another regiment of soldiers arrived in Halifax, and you must now behave yourselves." They went away, and shortly after there came an invitation to all the Whites to attend a great feast provided for them by the red brethren. This invitation was accepted, and on going to the place appointed they found provided every variety of provision, which the sea or the forest afforded, fish, flesh, and fowl, which they allowed the Whites to cook in their own way. This was intended as a grand peace-offering, and as such was accepted, though historically I suppose we should speak of it as the first pic-me in the County of Pictou.

Their daughter partook of the active habits and the resolute character of her parents, all being sanctified by the grace of God. She had received the best education which the country at that time could afford, though circumstances rendered it necessary that her industry in the use of her needle should be employed iu the maintenance of the family. She was an accomplished seamstress and as such had resided in some of the most respectable families in Halifax. This discipline we need not say was all well calculated to fit her for the sphere she was afterward to oecupy. Andrew, the faithful Eliezer, having discharged his part, the lady gave her consent and all preliminaries were arranged.

At the appointed time, which was at seed time, in 1796, he set out, taking with him as companion in travel, and as groomsman, Mr. Alex. MacKay, son of Alexander before mentioned, and cousin of his intended. The only mode of travelling at that time was either on foot or on horseback. The latter was preferred, and the only two horses on the East River considered fit for the journey were put in requisition for the important occasion. Such was the way of bringing home a bride. And there was then no such thing as spending the honeymoon ia tours of pleasure; but it is worthy of record, as illustrating his devotedness to the great work of his life, that his marriage trip was made a missionary excursion. lie and his faithful companion, accordingly, set out toward the close of the week. They were met by Mr. Brown, at West Biver, and a young man, who was on his way to Truro, accompanied them. The road was, as we have formerly described it, a mere path cut through the woods, and except in a few spots not permitting two to ride abreast. The young man, on the way, began throwing stones at some partridges which crossed their path. The Doctor remonstrated with him. The young man argued that they were given to us for our use. “Yes, but you are not needing them,” was the reply. We mention this as it affords us a convenient opportunity of noticing a feature of his character, his kindness to inferior animals. He would not kill a snake, and when others would be for doing it, he would remonstrate with them, saying, “Let it live, and enjoy the life that God has given it.”

On their arrival at Truro they lodged with Mr. Cock, who, notwithstanding former conflicts, entertained them most hospitably. There, parting with Mr. Brown, they proceeded to Black Bock, at the mouth of the Shubenacadie, and the horses being committed to the care of Mr. MacKay to proceed by land, he proceeded in a boat, about ten miles up the river, to the house of Mr. Thomas Ellis, Fort Ellis, at the junction of the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke, near which the first church on the Shubenacadie was built. It was Saturday when they arrived here, and preaching being intimated for the following day, before daylight the house in which he was staying was filled with persons, who had taken advantage of the tide to come up the river in their boats or canoes. A large congregation assembled, and he preached to them that day, and on Monday proceeded to Halifax. It was near night when he arrived, the marriage service being appointed to take place on the evening of the following day ; but, instead of proceeding to the residence of his intended, he went to an inn, to wait there till he should have his outer man in a state fit to make his appearance before her. He  sent orders for a complete suit of apparel, even to his shoes, and until these were ready, he remained at the inn. In the meantime the faithful Aleck is despatched to convey the intelligence of his arrival. On his entering the house he was immediately asked where the groom was. On replying that he had gone to the inn, the young lady began to toss her head, at the seeming want of attention, saying, “I suppose he thinks he has me.” Explanations followed, which we presume were satisfactory. The necessary equipments were not ready till some time the next day, nor did he make his appearance till toward evening, so that they never met till a few minutes before their fates were united. The marriage ceremony was performed by the Rev. James Munro, afterward of Antigonish, then a travelling missionary; and, we suppose from his having been originally of the Established Church of Scotland, a license was given for the purpose. The company was small, and the evening passed pleasantly. The Doctor was in the highest spirits, and gave vent to his benevolence in the expression, that he wished they were all as happy as he was that night.

The following day was devoted to the bride’s receiving the visits of her friends, numbers of whom came to pay their respects, and bid her farewell. In the meantime the groom having purchased presents for all the members of the family, and a side-saddle for his wife to ride on, they on Thursday set out on their journey homeward. A number of her friends drove out with them to Sackville, about ten miles out, where the road for Pictou diverges from the road to Windsor, this being all the distance to which it was possible to take a carriage. They had brought a supply of provisions with them, and their sloth being spread upon a green spot, they all partook of a refreshment after the fashion of a modern pie-uie. Their repast being finished they bade their friends farewell, and the bride was mounted on the horse which had been ridden by the faithful Aleck, who now moved along on foot; but, like Asahel, “light as a wild roe,” he was not only able to keep up with them, but where the roads were bad to get ahead of them. Having thus secured what he had so long desired, he is represented on the journey as not willing to let her a moment out of his sight, a solicitude, we feel justified in saying, not arising from the fear of danger by the way. They arrived at Gays’ River that night, where he preached and baptized. After riding down along the side of the river to a convenient point for taking boats, the two horses were entrusted to MacKay, to travel by land, while the newly married couple proceeded down the river by water, he preaching and baptizing at convenient points. On the Sabbath following he preached at the mouth of the Shubenacadie on the western side, where the village of Maitland now stands, to a large congregation. Here they met the faithful Aleek, with the two horses, and also Mr. Mortimer, who had come all the way from Pietou to meet him, and escort him home. In the beginning of the week they again took their journey, and in due time arrived at the East River, and to him might be applied language similar to what is said of Isaac: He “took Bebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her, and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

On his arrival home he occasionally gave vent to the exuberance of his joy in merriment, which to the old staid Highlanders, with whom a laugh was almost a mortal sin, began to give offence, and it is said that the matter led even to the remonstrances of the Session. But something more serious was before him. He had been married by license, without proclamation of banns required by Ecclesiastical as well as civil law in Scotland, and by the adherents of time honoured customs he was held as guilty of a heinous violation of church rites. Some of these were eager to have the matter taken up, and to have him censured before the Presbytery. The offence extended throughout the church, some of the Elders of Londonderry being the most zealous on the subject. Ridiculous as it may appear, the affair began to assume a serious aspect, and on his way to the next meeting of Presbytery, which was to be held at Londonderry as usual, after the Sacrament, he exhibited unmistakable signs of anxiety. Good Mr. Brown acted as peacemaker, but with all his efforts he could not satisfy some of the parties, and at length had to speak to Mr. MacGregor on the subject. The latter gravely proposed a friendly meeting in private on the subject The meeting accordingly took place, when the Doctor said to them, “I hear that you are offended at what I have done.” They began to profess that they were not offended themselves, but that the matter was causing scandal through the church. "Well,” said he, bringing his face to the requisite degree of gravity, though we fear that there lurked a little of the spirit of fun beneath it, “my friends, I am very sorry that any person should have taken offence, and I promise that if you will forgive me this time I will never do it again.” They did not at first perceive his drift, and with one voice, exclaimed, that his acknowledgment of his errors was perfectly satisfactory,—and that they could ask no more. The report immediately went abroad that he had made very humble acknowledgments, and his conduct affording convincing evidence of the sincerity of his repentance, all parties were satisfied, and the dark cloud which was hanging over the peace of the church was dissipated. He returned home in high spirits,—presenting quite a contrast to his state of mind on going, and to one that asked him, “Did they stop your mouth?” (such was the common talk at the time,) he replied, “No, God has opened it and man will not shut it.”

On their arrival home they continued to live as he had previously done in Donald MacKay’s house, thus literally enjoying “love in a garret.” In the original petition for a minister, it was promised as follows: “Besides, we have agreed to build a house and barn for the minister, and that he shall have a glebe lot of land,—and also that we shall clear so much of it from time to time for his encouragement.” This promise was not overlooked, for among his papers we find the following heading of a subscription list:

Pictou, April 2bth, 1796.

“We, subscribers, promise to pay to James MacGregor, or his order, for building his house and barn, our respective shares of the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds, in cash or produce, at market price, as shall be most convenient for us at three terms, viz., fifty pounds on the first day of April, 1797, fifty pounds on the first day of April, 1798, and fifty pounds on the first day of April, 1799, which sums respectively are to be divided into shares among us, by an equal assessment on our Polls and Estates, whereby we are discharged of our promise in the original petition for a minister.”

This engagement was fulfilled as all pecuniary engagements were in those days, payments being made in all sorts of things, and at all manner of times, and some sums being never paid at all. Yet with all these draw-backs, we think that, considering the state of the country at the time, the effort made by his congregation affords an example to congregations in the present day.

With this assistance he built a house on his father-in-law’s farm, the first frame house on the East River. But the latter having moved from Halifax with the family, for a time they lived together. MacKay being unwilling to sell, Doctor MacGregor was under the necessity of building again. This time he built of brick, the first erection of the kind we suppose in the whole eastern part of the Province. He engaged a man who had come out from the old country, having some knowledge of brick making, to make the brick. Some of them were very good, but part were not,, requiring to be plastered over, to preserve them from the weather. Here he lived till near the close of his life. The house continued to stand till a few years ago. It was situated near the western bank of the River, just where the operations of the General Mining Association are now being carried on. The traveller passing through this now busy scene of life, and crossing the bridge, may see the spot a few rods down the river, where still stand some willow trees, beneath whose shade he often walked or read, while the scene around exhibited a marked contrast with its present appearance. Where now are seen long ranges of miners’ houses—the smoke of factory and steam engine, and is heard the rattling of the railcar, was a scene of retirement, where only a small clearing broke the continuity of the forest, and an almost Sabbath stillness rested upon the face of nature.

It may be added that the union was one of great happiness, and the separation, when it took place some years afterwards, he considered the greatest trial of his life. She was a woman of a lively spirit, of very active habits, and prudent and economical in her household management. “The heart of her husband safely trusted in her,” and she took such efficient charge of his domestic affairs, that, as one of my informants expressed it, "he had nothing to do but study.” It should here be added, that her father spent the closing years of his life at the East River, and that, though part of his life was not what could have been desired, his later years were, in the Doctor’s opinion, those of a sincere penitent.

We may remark that his marriage did not in any degree diminish his labours abroad. “He that marrieth careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife;” and it has happened with ministers of religion that the domestic cares resulting from marriage have induced a relaxation in those efforts for the good of the church, involving absence from home. No one could say this of the subject of this memoir. Even with an increasing family he was as ready as ever to listen to the cry of the destitute for the word of life; and some of his most distant journeys were made after this date. And it is due to the two “faithful women,” who were successively his partners, to say that not only did neither offer any hindrance to his missionary labours, but that both felt interested in the work, and afforded him every encouragement in the prosecution of it.


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