|II.||Alexander M. Sutherland||26|
|III.||Prof. Henry John Cody, M.A.||42|
|VI.||George N. Matheson||73|
|VII.||Hon. Donald Mackay||81|
|VIII.||Dr. James Fraser||89|
|X.||James and John Fletcher||109|
|XI.||Hon. J. R. Sutherland||121|
|XIII.||G. L. Mackay, D.D.||136|
|XIV.||Prof. Donald Mackay, B.A., Ph.D.||149|
|XVI.||D. S. Burdick||160|
|XVIII.||Thomas Oliver, M.P.||177|
|XIX.||Hon. James Sutherland, M.P.||188|
|XX.||Rev. Charles W. Gordon, B.A. ("Ralph Connor")||198|
|XXI.||Rev. Alexander S. Macleod, M.A.||205|
|XXII.||Capt. John M. Ross||208|
|XXIII.||Dr. A. E. Matheson||218|
|XXIV.||John S. Mackay||226|
|The Murray Family|
|The Ferguson Family|
|Rev. Donald McKenzie|
|Rev. G. Munro, M.A.|
|Rev. E. D. Silcox|
|Rev. G. C. Patterson, M.A.|
|A. M. Sutherland||26|
|Prof. H. J. Cody, M.A.||42|
|George N. Matheson||73|
|Hon. D. Mackay||81|
|Dr. James Fraser||89|
|Paul Murray and his son John||103|
|James and John Fletcher||109|
|Hon. John R. Sutherland||121|
|Rev. G. L. Mackay, D.D.||136|
|Prof. Donald Mackay, Ph.D.||149|
|D. S. Burdick||160|
|Thomas Oliver, M.P.||177|
|Hon. James Sutherland, M.P.||188|
|Rev. C. W. Gordon, B.A. ("Ralph Connor")||198|
|Rev. A. S. Macleod, M.A.||205|
|Capt. John M. Ross||208|
|Dr. A. E. Matheson||218|
|J. S. Mackay||226|
By Zorra, in the following sketches, is meant a little district in Oxford county, Ontario, some ten miles square, composed of part of East and part of West Zorra, and containing a population of about fourteen hundred. It was settled about the year 1830, chiefly by Highlanders from Sutherlandshire, Scotland.
Within the last forty years there have gone from this district over one hundred young men who have made their mark in the world. With most of these it has been the writer's good fortune to be personally and intimately acquainted; and companionship with some of them has been to him a pleasure and a benefit. Three of them are to-day millionaires, or within sight of that coveted goal; three are senators in the United States; two are presidents of colleges, one in England and one in the United States; one is a professor in an American college and one in a Canadian college; another was appointed to a professor's chair but death intervened; one was a member of the Dominion Parliament, and after him, a second; and on his death, a third was elected, and he is to-day a member of the Dominion Cabinet; one is at the head of the largest departmental store in the world; one is a liberal patron of the fine arts; one is the most famous missionary in the world, while two others are intimately associated with him in the same work; one is "Ralph Connor," the popular author; one is an inventor of wide reputation; several are prominent lawyers; two or three dozen are physicians, and about twice that number are clergymen. Of the latter, six have the degree of B.A., four that of M.A., two Ph.D., and nine D.D.
It is not intended to include all these in the following sketches; this were impracticable, but it is believed that a brief, unvarnished account of the career of some of them may be an inspiration, not only to the young men of Zorra to-day, but to men everywhere struggling against difficulties, and earnestly engaged in the conflict of life. Such sketches will also be to many a pleasant souvenir of early days, when
"Hearts were light as ony feather,
Free frae sorrow, care and strife."
When we speak of the boys abroad, we make no comparison unfavorable to the boys at home, some of whom, as we shall see, are filling high and useful positions in the land. Still, it is the absent one who is most frequently thought of and spoken about, and news concerning him is as water to a thirsty traveller.
The end of the nineteenth century finds us living at high pressure, and engaged in a keen competition for wealth, position or subsistence. The indolent, the weak, the intemperate must go under. Never were tact, push and principle more necessary to him who would succeed in life. In the "Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad" we have success illustrated by example. Born in humble though Christian homes, reared amid hardships and sometimes want, they were unconsciously trained by a stern but kind Providence in those habits of temperance, economy and hard work which have brought them to the front in almost every department of life.
What is success? It is not wealth, learning or power, although these may be included. It is the building up of a pure, strong, noble character. The man who overcomes selfishness, indolence, wastefulness, and becomes kind, industrious, frugal, is a success, though he may not make much money, or be a great man for people to look up to with wonder. Success has been rightly defined as consisting in "the proper and harmonious development of those faculties which God has given us." The present is an intensely materialistic age, when, in the mad rush after gain and worldly pleasure, home life is at a low ebb, the religious education of the young sadly neglected, and the sanctity of the Sabbath trampled under foot. We would seek to combat this dangerous tendency of our day by exhibiting men born and reared in homes where God was honored, the children instructed in the Scriptures, and the Sabbath observed as holy unto the Lord and honorable. While the following sketches will introduce the reader to some "boys" who have acquired considerable wealth, yet, so far as known to the writer, they have done it by honorable means. Their capital has been energy, economy, tact, industry and Christian character. Their money is not laid up, but laid out, and their beneficence is a benediction to many poor and needy ones. A few of those of whom we shall speak, though poor in material things, are rich in faith—millionaires in qualities that go to constitute a noble Christian life. One of them thus writes to me: "I never enjoyed material prosperity. The Lord saw best that I should not; for when I prospered financially I almost invariably suffered spiritually." The example of such men, rich or poor, is an honor to the memory of our pioneer fathers and mothers, and ought to be an inspiration to the young men and women of to-day.
Perhaps no son of Zorra would refer to the humble circumstances surrounding his entrance into life as a positive disadvantage. To the brave, apparent hindrances are real helps. "Ad astra per aspera." No man was ever rocked into a strong character in a hammock. Life is a battle. We must conquer difficulties, or difficulties will conquer us. It is with us, as with the Highlanders in battle, when their chief called out to them, "Lads, there they are. If ye dinna kill them, they will kill you."
"There's always room at the top," someone says.
"Yes," I reply, "but no man ever reached the top sitting in a cushioned Pullman car."
Think of the early struggles of Lincoln, Grant, Garfield. Call to mind the fact that of the seven Dominion premiers we have had since Confederation, nearly all were developed through the struggles of early life. One was a shoemaker, another a printer, another a stonemason, another an errand boy. Self-indulgence is a curse to anyone. The greatest misfortune that can happen to a boy is to have all his wants supplied without any effort on his part, so that he grows up in a life of luxurious ease. Such a misfortune did not overtake the Zorra boys, and for that they have reason to be thankful.
In the following sketches we may occasionally refer to the failings, foibles and amusing experiences of the boys, for these are not without their lessons; but it was undoubtedly, in a large measure, their stern Puritanical training that sent them into the world armed against the seductions of easy, luxurious indolence. They were taught firmly to believe in an All-supreme Ruler, to take the Bible as the infallible rule of their faith and practice; to regard every experience in life as coming from the Most High, and to feel their responsibility to Him for every act of life. This made them strong, devout, successful.
"I have been," said Gladstone, "in public life fifty-eight years, and forty-seven years in the Cabinet of the British Government, and during those forty-seven years I have been associated with sixty of the master-minds of the country, and all but five of the sixty were Christians."
So far as known to the writer, no Zorra boy to-day is ashamed of either the porridge or the Catechism on which he was reared. On the contrary, many readily testify how much they owe to the wholesome physical and mental pabulum of boyhood days.
The Indian motto is: "Don't walk if you can ride; don't stand if you can sit down; don't sit down if you can lie down." Different is the motto of the typical Zorra boy: "Don't sleep when you ought to be awake; don't stay awake with eyes closed and hands folded; work with your hands, think with your head, and love with your heart, and never forget that character is capital."
If it should be objected to the following sketches that they are partial and imperfect, inasmuch as I do not publish the faults of my friends, I have only to reply that I plead guilty to the offence, if offence it be. There are so many ready to point out faults, that I may be excused if I prefer to look on the sunny side of life.
Don't look for the flaws as you go through life,
And even when you find them
'Tis wise and kind to be somewhat blind,
And look for the virtues behind them.
Alexander the Great had an ugly scar on his forehead, received in battle. When an eminent artist was requested to paint his portrait, he said: "If I retain the scar it will be an offence to the admirers of the monarch, and if I omit it, it will fail to be a perfect likeness. What shall I do?" He hit upon a happy expedient. He sketched the monarch leaning upon his elbow with his forefinger upon his brow covering the scar. There was the likeness, and the scar hidden.
Thus I would study to paint with the finger of charity on the scar of a brother, hiding the ugly mark, and revealing only the beautiful, the true and the good.
P.S.—A number of these sketches originally appeared in the Montreal Witness, and were copied extensively by the press of the Dominion. At the request of many friends they are now collected, revised, and published in permanent form.
Of few of her sons is Zorra more justly proud than of James Wood, with whom we begin our sketches of "Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad." The accompanying engraving conveys a fair idea of his strong, manly physique.
In stature he stands six feet two and a half inches; weighs two hundred and thirty pounds; is broad-shouldered, full-chested, straight as an arrow, with muscles knit together like whipcords, and nerves like steel springs; his grand head well set upon massive shoulders, and covered with a thick coat of glossy brown hair; his eye melting blue, his features clearly cut, and his whole countenance beaming with the strong manhood which it represents. Though in the sixty-eighth year of his age, his step is firm and elastic; and there is a swing in his gait which marks his movements with dignity and energy. He is a man you cannot meet on the street without an involuntary tribute of respect to his fine presence, and a lingering look at his manly figure, as he rapidly disappears out of your sight on his way to his work, in the stock yards.
From the humble log-house in Zorra to the fashionable mansion on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, is a long step, but James Wood has taken it; and he has taken it by means not less creditable to the goodness of his heart than to the cleverness of his head.
Canadians who visited the World's Fair in Chicago perhaps saw few things that made a more lasting impression upon their minds than what they witnessed at the Union Stock Yards. This enormous business centre includes no less than 475 acres of land, 320 of which are covered with plank and brick flooring. These yards contain 25 miles of streets, 38 miles of water troughs, 90 miles of water pipes, and 50 miles of sewerage.
The object of the yards is to furnish facilities for marketing all kinds of live stock—cattle, hogs, sheep, horses and goats. The value of all animals marketed there during the year 1899, I find, from the annual report, to be the inconceivable sum of $233,711,180; while the bank through which this enormous business is transacted shows deposits of over $550,000,000.
This vast business is transacted by about one dozen different firms, and a Zorra boy is at the head. The firm of Wood Brothers, with James Wood as the leading member, stands first.
The following brief sketch of this son of Zorra will be of interest.
He was born, January 16, 1833, in Morayshire, Scotland; emigrated with his parents to Canada in 1834, and lived in Glengarry, Ont., for about one year. He then, with the rest of his family, moved to Zorra, and received his early education in Embro school.
While yet little more than a boy, he was made chaplain of the division of the Sons of Temperance in the village. This caused him to think seriously of his own spiritual condition, and his fitness to lead others in prayer. The result was decidedly religious views, and an open consecration of himself to God. At first he thought of devoting himself to the Christian ministry, and with this object in view, studied two sessions in Knox College, Toronto. During this time he preached frequently and with much acceptance to his hearers, though never to his own satisfaction.
"How did you get along at ——?" was asked him after returning from a service in the country. "Well, I preached about half an hour, and told them all I knew, and a good deal I did not know," was the frank and ready response.
But his health failed him, and he became convinced that he could not stand the close confinement of student life.
Leaving college, he served an apprenticeship to coach building in London, Ont., with the firm of Lowrie & Campbell, and in recognition of his fidelity and efficiency his time of service was reduced six months, and he was offered the charge of the establishment, which, however, he modestly declined to accept. After this he worked for a time at his trade in Aylmer, Ont. His master failed in business, and Mr. Wood, with that energy and unselfish devotion to the interests of his employer which has always characterized him, got a team of horses and peddled the unsold wagons through the country, and in a short time had them all disposed of, to the great relief of the owner. In this action we see one of the secrets of success in life. The trouble with most young men is that they never think of doing more than they are paid for. They don't put earnestness or enthusiasm into their employer's work. So much work for so much pay, is their motto. But to be appreciated, a young man must at times show his willingness to do more than he is paid for. To the utmost of his ability he must make his master's interests his own. Such men are scarce and, therefore, sooner or later, sure of promotion.
Mr. Wood has never failed in business, and has always promptly met every obligation when due; hence the great confidence placed in him to-day by thousands who have never seen him, and the immense business which he controls extending into nearly every State of the Union.
We have seen that, early in life, Mr. Wood identified himself with temperance workers, and all his life he has practised total abstinence, not only from drink, but from tobacco in every form. This not only helped to make him a strong, clean man; but, while he was a poor man, it greatly helped him in business by preventing an unnecessary waste of money.
A young man came to a millionaire asking for assistance to start in business.
"Do you drink?" was the first query.
"Occasionally," was the response.
"Then stop drinking, and at the end of a year come back and report to me."
At the end of a year the young man returned and reported that he had not touched liquor for the year.
"Do you smoke?" was the next query.
"A little," was the response.
"Then stop smoking and at the end of a year report to me."
He did so, and during the year the young man said to a friend, "I am not going back again, for I know what he will say to me. He will say, 'If you have stopped drinking and smoking you have saved enough money to start in business,' and I have," added he.
Hard work and a dogged determination to succeed also help to account for this Zorra boy's success. Genius has been defined as a capacity for hard work. The Zorra pioneers had little gold or silver to bequeath their children, but they did teach them industry and frugality as the way to material success.
But more than anything else, early religious training has conduced to James Wood's wonderful business prosperity. His father was an esteemed elder of the Church, and in his home God was honored. James was always in his place in church, and in the Sunday School; first as a scholar, and then as a teacher and superintendent. He early declared his religious convictions, and to-day he is the main pillar of the 41st Street Presbyterian Church, Chicago; and his generous treatment of employees, his Christian activity, and large benefactions, are known far beyond his own church and city.
We sometimes hear it said that high Christian attainment is incompatible with great business success; business, we are told, cannot be conducted on the principles of the Golden Rule. The career of James Wood proves the contrary, and shows us that real Christianity, not a Pharisaical profession of it, cannot fail to develop a good character; and a good character is sure, in the long run, to bring a man to the front.
"Give us men!
Strong and stalwart ones;
Men whom highest hope inspires,
Men whom purest honor fires,
Men who trample self beneath them
Men who make their country wreath them
As her noble sons,
Worthy of their sires.
Men who never shame their mothers,
Men who never fail their brothers,
True, however false are others;
Give us men, I say again,
Give us men!"
In the strong, well-defined features of the accompanying engraving many of my readers will recognize the full development of the stout, sportive, muscular boy of fifty years ago. He was then known as Sandy Suthelan (Sutherland), and sometimes as Sandy Benjy, to distinguish him from another Sandy in the same neighborhood. He attended the small log school-house built on the south-east corner of Hugh Anderson's farm, 9th line East Zorra. This was about a mile from his home. He says, "As soon as I was able to walk so far, I was sent to school, and I recollect my father driving a yoke of oxen dragging a log after them, to make a track for me in the snow to the school."
This, it may be added, was no unusual experience in those days. To get the boys of Zorra to school, no compulsory education law was necessary. Whatever the motive, the Zorra pioneers highly appreciated the value of education for both their boys and girls, and in many cases, I have no doubt, they were strongly reminded of their duty by the consciousness of their own lack of learning, until often, like their prototypes in Drumtochty, they were willing to live on "skim milk and oat cake, to let the children have a chance."
In the case of Alexander Sutherland, the boy was father of the man, and his schoolmates of half a century ago are not surprised to read of him to-day as one of the wealthy men, and one of the famous inventors, of the United States, whose business extends into almost every State of the Union.
We remember him as the expert athlete of the school, full of fun, apparently ready to explode with pent-up energy, always ready for some practical joke. When the taws could not be found, there was a general suspicion that Sandy knew something about it; when the tack, point up, was found in the teacher's chair so that the Dominie, suddenly sitting on it, quickly rose with a shriek, Sandy was the boy that didn't laugh; when a large-sized caricature of the teacher was pinned to the back of his coat, the general opinion was that Sandy did it; when a greedy, selfish fellow forcibly took an apple from Sandy, as he had often done before, and in eating that apple found a mouthful of red pepper, it was gravely suspected that Sandy put the pepper into the apple "on purpose"; and when a big boy, the clown of the school, one day suddenly doubled up and shrieked with pain, which was found to proceed from a wasp in his pants pocket, it was observed by the scholars that the big boy had just previously been wrestling with Sandy Suthelan, and suspicion pointed to Sandy as having put the wasp in the pocket. Sandy had a keen sense of the ridiculous, and would tell the boys how one spring morning when the snow was fast disappearing, Andrew McKenzie, a neighboring Highlander, thus accosted him, "Weel, Mr. Suzzerland, I shink we're goin' to have a saw."
While kind-hearted enough, he was regarded as stylish, or uppish in his manners, and too dressy for the ordinary country Highlander of that day. May we not here learn a lesson as to the importance to the boy who would succeed in life, of dressing himself neatly if not stylishly. Boys, never be slovenly or careless in your appearance.
I remember, also, his brother James and the many circus tricks he could play. Standing with one foot on the back of a horse, he would ride as fast as the horse could run. He could revolve at a rapid speed in the manner of a wheel, throwing out his hands and feet for spokes, and making his body the hub of the wheel.
Alexander Sutherland still delights to tell of the freaks and tricks of his early days in Zorra. "I was," writes he, "rather a plain-looking youth. My hair was very straight and black, and, like all Zorra boys, I wore it long. My brother James had brown wavy hair, and was quite a favorite with the young ladies of our acquaintance. I was determined to become so. I imagined that all I had to do to gain this end was to get my hair curled like his. So before going to the next party or 'spree,' I was careful to get my hair well curled. An old bachelor friend of our family told me I looked well. (The brute!) That night not one girl would dance with me, and I was puzzled. I had made the mistake of trying to be like another. Many keep erring all their lives in that way. I hope the lesson was not lost upon me. In aping another I looked neither like him nor like myself. My mother wouldn't have known me. Since that night I have tried always to be real, to be myself, to be what God intended me to be."
The old spelling match was at one time as popular in Zorra as hockey and football are today among the boys of our towns and cities, and perhaps much more profitable. Those living on one concession would usually be pitted against those on another. The contest would take place in a school-house, which was sure to be packed to the door. The school-master, or one of the best scholars in the neighborhood, would be selected to give out the "spellings." Every old spelling-book and every other book, from Johnson's Dictionary to Ayer's Almanac, would be ransacked for hard words. Long and careful preparation was made by the intending contestants; and when the night came, excitement in the district ran as high as in a modern political election.
Each concession line was represented by fifteen or twenty spellers, chosen weeks beforehand; and as each speller scored a point against his competitor, great was the cheering of his friends. The excitement steadily increased as the contestants grew fewer, and the words became harder. Mr. Sutherland gives his experience on one of these occasions. He says:
"One night six of us went out to spell down the 11th line school. We all went on horseback. I don't recollect all six, but Hugh Anderson, James Fletcher and myself were three of them. We were good spellers, but were beaten. One of the 11th line young men gave out the 'spellings,' and exhausted several spelling books. At last he took up an old dictionary. An 11th line lad and I were the last on the floor. Soon my Waterloo came. The word 'mosquito' was given. I put an 'e' at the end; he put two 't's' in it. We were given another chance. I left the final 'e' off, and he spelled it 'muischetto' and won for the 11th line. We were shown the word, and it was so in the book. I now wonder who compiled that dictionary."
But the evening's entertainment was not yet over. One of Mr. Sutherland's party suggested a practical joke. There was at this time a toll-keeper on the 12th line below Lappin's Hotel, who was notorious throughout the district as an irritable, profane and extremely disagreeable creature. On that night the boys determined after the spelling match to have some fun with this cross man. So all six turned out of their way, and headed for the toll-gate, of course, not intending to go through. After much din they roused the crankiest fellow in the township. It was a cold night, and after 12 o'clock, and coming out of a warm bed the man was more than ordinarily cross. He growled at the young men for being out so late. One of the party asked him how much he would charge for all six horses passing through.
"Thirty cents, you young saphead," was the answer.
"We'll not give you more than ten," replied the spokesman of the party.
Then began a stream of skilfully assorted profanity which would stagger Satan. The toll-keeper needed neither candle nor book, and yet the Jackdaw of Rheims never heard anything like it. Ordinary profanity was, as Mark Twain would say, "rudimentary" in comparison with it.
When he had done he was asked if he would not let all go through for twenty cents. The man's strength and vocabulary were both insufficient for the occasion, and with a panting effort he shouted "No!"
"Well," was the reply, "we won't go through. Good night!" and the boys galloped home feeling that they had paid off some old scores.
His old Zorra chums still enjoy telling how, one dark night, Sandy was returning home from a "party" on the ninth line. He had to pass through a piece of dark woods. Just as he entered the dismal forest he thought he heard a rustling among the leaves, and also saw some black thing moving in his direction. It was a bear, no doubt. Quick as thought, Sandy turned and took to his heels. Soon he appeared at the house he so recently left, pale, speechless and almost breathless, and related, as well as he could, his adventure. It was a pioneer sensation. Quickly every man and boy present armed himself with some weapon; pitchforks, axes, spades, knives were never in greater demand. Under the leadership of Sandy, the excited crowd boldly marched to the spot of danger, but Bruin was not to be found. In vain the woods were searched through and through, and many, as well as loud, were the challenges given out. The Canadians at Paardeberg were not more brave, nor half so noisy. During this midnight hunt Sandy quietly slipped away and went home; and soon after it was confidently whispered, that Sandy was only shamming, that he had seen no bear, but just wanted to "fool the boys."
At the age of seventeen Mr. Sutherland was sent to learn the grocery business with J. & A. Clark, of Woodstock; but here he remained only about a year. During this time the following amusing incident occurred. One day a raw young lad from the country came into the store wishing to purchase a mouth organ. The innocence of the young fellow, seeking for a mouth organ in a grocery store, struck Sutherland as ridiculous. Keeping a serious look, he replied, "We have none here, but if you come with me to the next door we will perhaps get one." So saying, Mr. Sutherland led him into a dry-goods store, and giving a knowing wink to the clerk, quietly asked him for a glove stretcher. With this young Sutherland proceeded to measure the fellow's mouth, and holding it open the full width of his face, asked the salesman if he thought that he had a mouth organ to fit that. Looking very serious, the salesman answered, "I am very sorry to say we have not." The young fellow went away, sorry he was so hard to fit.
Leaving the grocery business, Sutherland entered the West End School, Woodstock, at that time taught by Mr. Henry Izard, of whom Mr. Sutherland still speaks in terms of the highest respect. In this school he chummed with John L. Murray and Peter Nichol, both of whom are now well-known ministers of the Gospel.
"Many a night," says Mr. Sutherland, "into the wee sma' hours, did John Murray and I wrestle with Colenso's Algebra. John was a better algebraist than I, but I was not easily excelled in Euclid; for I so thoroughly mastered the first four books that all I needed was the number of a proposition, and the number of the book containing it, and I would reel it off like 'The Chief End of Man.'"
Leaving school, Mr. Sutherland was soon engaged as a bookseller's clerk with William Warwick, of Woodstock. "This," he observes, "saved the County of Oxford the trouble and expense of another poor lawyer, for a lawyer is what I aspired to be."
In the bookselling business he continued about two years, and then started a country store of his own in the village of Maxwell, County Grey, Ont. Before leaving Woodstock his many friends honored him with a public supper, where many good things were said and happy predictions made concerning the ambitious and popular young man.
At the time of the Fenian Raid, in 1865, the military spirit ran high in Canada, and Mr. Sutherland showed himself a true patriot. He got together a fine rifle company, hired a drill sergeant, and had the men drilled at his own expense. However, the danger was soon over, and their services were not required. Mr. Sutherland says of this, "I was glad. I would not like to see a lot of reckless fellows like the Fenians shooting in my direction."
After this Mr. Sutherland moved to Stayner and then to Collingwood. Here he amassed considerable wealth, and was well known for his public spirit.
Selling his Collingwood business, he with a few friends bought 2,000 acres of very fine pine land near Barrie. For a while the business prospered, but suddenly, through a change in the American tariff, there came a panic among Canadian lumbermen, and Mr. Sutherland was left without a cent in the world.
He thus writes of his experience at this time: "So at the age of forty my entire capital consisted of a good, hopeful, cheerful wife, four dear little girls, the respect of my neighbors, and plenty of confidence in myself."
We cannot here go into all the ups and downs, the trials and triumphs of Mr. Sutherland's life at this time. He purchased a large interest in the American patent covering the McKinnon stylographic pen, which in Canada was worse than a failure. Mr. Sutherland, however, set his wits to work and improved upon it. Thus improved, he took it to New York, landing in the great city a perfect stranger, with a small brass model of the pen and a borrowed $50. All told him his patent would be a failure. "But I went to work," he says, "worked night and day, and within three months I had a good paying business. I advertised extensively, and in two years and a half I had agents all over the rest of the civilized world, as well as in every town and city in the United States, and did a large business.
"In less than four and a half years I made clear of all expenses a little over $30,000, and sold the business to a bookseller in the city for $68,000 more."
But the great financial event of his life took place fifteen years ago, when he was swindled into wonderful success. It happened in this way: He was induced to purchase a patent for making illuminating gas of a high candle-power, at the rate of ten cents per thousand feet. But though the model worked well, nothing could make a larger apparatus than the model work successfully.
After experimenting for the greater part of two years, paying expensive men to assist him, he gave it up. He then went to work and invented another apparatus for the same purpose, on an entirely different plan. This succeeded, and was the beginning of a career of uninterrupted and wonderful prosperity.
Mr. Sutherland is to-day one of the best known men in Wall Street, New York City. He is President of the Sutherland Construction and Improvement Company of New York, and president or director of half a dozen other companies, the aggregate capital stock of which runs into the millions, and his contracts run into hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
Being asked, To what do you attribute your success in life? Mr. Sutherland replied: "When I achieved any degree of success I did it by first laying out a plan, and then with unswerving perseverance working out that plan and no other. Have a purpose and stick to it."
Self-reliance is a strong characteristic of this son of Zorra. Depend on yourself, is his motto. He writes: "Once, when a boy, I was thrown into deep water in a river by a much older boy, who was a good swimmer, and I was told to swim or drown. With many awkward flounderings, and much spluttering, I managed to keep afloat half the time, till I got ashore. Ever since that time I could swim.
"Apart from that time I have never gained anything by taking other people's advice, unless it was medical advice, and that wasn't right half the time."
Mr. Sutherland speaks with gratitude of his Christian parents and his religious home training, and concludes with these words, so important to every young man to-day: "I have noticed that those who have come nearest to living up to the Golden Rule have been the most uniformly successful, both as to character and competence."
What George Howe, the lad o' pairts, was to Drumtochty, Henry John Cody is to Zorra; and no more proud were the Drumtochtyites of George than the Zorraites are of Henry John. They point to the brilliant scholar of the university, and the learned professor of Wycliffe College, Toronto, and assure the visitor that he is every inch of him a Zorra boy. True, Henry John has some Sassenach blood in his veins, but he is of good Gaelic stock, nevertheless; and although he is an Episcopal and doesna' gang to the kirk, this arises from too much affection for his mother's religion, and so the Celts of Zorra love him none the less.
H. J. Cody is the eldest son of Elijah Cody, of Embro, whose mother's maiden name was Johanna Sutherland, and who was born in Golspie, Sutherlandshire. His mother's name was Margaret Louisa Torrance, a descendant from a good Dublin family, and a member of the Church of England.
He was born in Embro on December 6th, 1868. Among his early teachers were Hugh Morrison, now a barrister in Lucknow, and George Jamieson, now Dr. Jamieson, of Lone Rock, Wisconsin, U.S.
Of these Prof. Cody says: "Two more accurate and helpful teachers it would be hard to find. I am sure that many of the boys received their first impulse toward a general love of literature and history from the suggestive and broad teaching of these men."
These were the days of spelling matches, history matches, geography matches, and public school debates, when every library in the village, public and private, was ransacked for the desired information. The annual public examination, with its recitations, prizes, etc., formed one of the great events of the year. All this was very stimulating to the keen, precocious mind of young Cody.
New and improved methods of teaching were beginning to be introduced, although the rod was still in evidence, and there were many now happily defunct methods of exercising discipline. Being made to stand on one foot, or sit between two girls, or wear a fool's cap, were some of these. Perhaps the most memorable one was that called "sitting on nothing." You were against the wall and had to put your foot out to a certain line, almost a foot and a half from the wall, and then put your back straight against the wall. The result was sitting on nothing, and the spectacle of half a dozen boys poised thus against the wall was ludicrous enough.
The annals of Embro inform the stranger that in 1880 the first group of scholars from the village school went up to Woodstock to write on the comparatively new entrance examination to the High School, that all the applicants were successful, and that for years the Embro school headed the county list, to the great pride of the villagers.
Young Cody had a brilliant literary career. In 1881 he went to Gait Collegiate Institute, which he attended for four years, preparing for matriculation examination in the university. The holidays were, of course, spent at his home in Embro.
In 1885 he matriculated into the University of Toronto with first-class honors in classics, mathematics and modern languages, and winning four scholarships—the classical, modern languages, Prince of Wales and general proficiency—perhaps as high honors as were ever won by any student on a similar occasion. His university career, thus auspiciously begun, was pursued with fidelity and marvellous success. He took to Latin and Greek like a duck takes to water. The records show that in the first year he won the classical, modern language and general proficiency scholarships; in the second year, the general and modern languages scholarships, the medal for general proficiency, and first-class honors in logic, metaphysics and ethics; and so on till the fourth or final year, when he swept the boards, coming out without a peer, having captured the McCaul gold medal in classics, first-class honors in metaphysics, the prize for best English essay, and other high honors. The like of it had never been known before, said a Zorra man.
His high attainments entitled him to a fellowship in classics at the University, but instead of taking it he accepted the appointment of Classical Master in Bishop Ridley College, St. Catharines.
After holding this post for some time he returned to Toronto, and completed his theological course at Wycliffe College. He was afterwards appointed to the chair of Church History in this college, where he is at present. He is also examiner in classics at the University of Toronto, as well as lecturer in Latin.
Last autumn he was appointed rector of St. Paul's Church, Toronto, one of the most important and beautiful Anglican places of worship in the city. Since his installation the congregation has made wonderful progress, and recently a large addition was made to the church edifice to accommodate the increasing numbers of worshippers. At the dedication meeting, on April 21st, 1900, his Lordship the Bishop of Toronto attributed a great deal of the success of the congregation to the unusual abilities, earnestness and energy of character and the great personal charm of manner of Prof. Cody. At the same meeting one of the leading laymen of Toronto described him as an able minister, who presented the simple gospel truths and who did not indulge in fantastic ceremonies, or in the presentation of strange doctrines. In April, 1900, he was selected as the representative of Wycliffe College to the great Ecumenical Missionary Conference held in New York.
Surely this son of Zorra reflects no little credit on his native township.
It will be interesting to trace some of the early influences which helped to make Prof. Cody the man he is. Being asked to state these influences he replied as follows:
"1. The reverent observance of the Lord's Day. In my own experience that day was never made dreary or oppressive; but everyone really believed that the Lord's Day had some decided authority, and could not lightly be disregarded. That feeling lasts and does a man good as long as he lives.
"2. The great amount of Scripture memorized in those days. I am astonished when I recall what feats we accomplished in this respect.
"3. The stimulating character of the general religious atmosphere of both the village and township. Any boy who chose could have had the opportunity of hearing profound and earnest theological discussions carried on at all sorts of odd times.
"I remember on the occasion of the re-union of the professional men of Zorra, at the garden party held on the grounds of the late Donald Matheson, hearing Dr. George Duncan and the Rev. John Ross, of Brucefield, arguing ingeniously on the subject of election. Each had, as he thought, an impregnable position, and remained in it, fearing to sally forth lest he might be taken captive by his opponent. Dr. Duncan kept asking, 'Did not Jesus taste death for every man?' and Mr. Ross kept replying, 'Jesus will have every man for whom he died.' The theologian, at least, will appreciate the caution of the contestants.
"4. The establishing of the public library at Embro, under the care of Capt. Alex. Gordon, was one of the most helpful and stimulating influences of my early days. To that library I owe personally a great debt of gratitude. Here were carried on, almost nightly, the discussions—political, religious, literary—in which the genial captain, Dr. Ross, Wm. Stewart, my father (if it was a political discussion) and others displayed marvellous dexterity, as well as great breadth of information.
"5. The spirit of sturdy independence, and a reliance, under God, upon one's own persistent efforts, could not fail to be helpful to any young man. Any success I have ever met in life has been, by God's blessing, due to downright hard work.
"The general early training of Zorra boys in plain living, and a reasonable degree of high thinking, made them self-reliant, resourceful, and determined to push forward.
"Some of my most amusing recollections of old Zorra days are connected with political and other public meetings. Of course their political meetings were tremendously one-sided, as a solid phalanx of Reform voters usually filled the hall. But the few Conservatives in Embro were all the more resolute and vigorous in their championship of John A. and his doings. There was a time, I think, when the only copy of the Mail which came to Embro post-office was that which my father took.
"I cannot close without paying a warm tribute to the splendid influence, intellectual and moral, of the various clergymen who ministered in Embro in my time—the Rev. Gustavus Munro, M.A., the Rev. John Salmon, M.A., and the Rev. E. D. Silcox."
If so far in these sketches I have said little directly of the religious life of some of Zorra's young men, it has certainly not been because of scarcity of good material. But having in "Pioneer Life in Zorra " dwelt largely upon this aspect of the life of the district, I did not wish to repeat myself here, though the task was tempting enough.
In this sketch, however, I present a few things concerning the religious life and the triumphant death of a young man of lofty purpose and noble character, who was early called to his reward, but whose memory will long be fragrant in Zorra.
George Mackay was born on May 27th, 1856. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Mackay, and was one of a family of eight, seven sons and one daughter. Four of the sons were dedicated to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. His brothers, Hugh Mackay, of Broadview, N.W.T., and Angus Mackay, of Lucknow, Ont., are well-known ministers to-day. His brother William died in 1881.
George, like all Zorra boys, received his primary education in the district school.
After attending for some time the High School at St. Mary's, he went to Upper Canada College, and entered Toronto University in 1874.
In the summer of 1875 he taught school and preached a few times. In February, 1876, he contracted a heavy cold, which brought on pleurisy, and necessitated his leaving college and seeking rest at home. Thinking that a trip across the ocean might benefit him, his father took him in the month of June to visit friends in Scotland. While there he gained some strength, but on returning, got overheated in Montreal, drank too freely of cold water, suffered a relapse, and scarcely reached his home when he was stricken with typhoid fever, and after an illness of ten days passed away on August 25th, 1876, in the twenty-first year of his age.
Young in years, he was ripe in grace, and is it not natural for the ripe fruit to fall? Young or old, have they not run long enough who have reached the goal and won the prize?
Some of George Mackay's letters and deathbed sayings have been preserved. Though never hitherto published, I venture to say they would do no discredit to John Newton or Robert Murray McCheyne, if published alongside their wonderful words. Such clear views of evangelical truth, such depth of Christian experience, and such an all-absorbing spirit of devotion, combined with deep tenderness and humility, are seldom found in one so young.
On August 3rd, 1874, in a letter to his brother Hugh, who had recently entered the Christian ministry, he says:
"Dear Hugh,—I suppose you will be thinking that I ought to be more mindful of you than I have been since I left you in Toronto, but I must say that I am kept so busy that I can scarcely get time to do anything but work, work. I mean physical labor. However, I can assure you, that when I come in from work every night, perhaps very tired and wearied out after a hard day's toil, I never forget to call you and your work to mind, and to present the desires of my heart to our common Father in heaven, that prosperity may accompany your labors, and that you may indeed feel the assistance of His Holy Spirit directing you in all things. Dear Hugh, I often think what a responsible position yours is, and the great account you will have to render at the final day of retribution. Oh, the need of being closely united to the true Vine from which you may draw enough to supply all your need!"
Writing to his mother from Toronto, he makes reference to the recent marriage of his sister as follows:
"My Dear Mother,—I am sure you will be feeling a little lonely since Tena left you; and who can blame you, for we can all testify that she has been to you a kind and dutiful daughter; and the fact of her being separated from you, to become more closely connected with another, cannot but leave an aching void which can only be filled by daily intimacy with the Friend who has promised that His kindness shall never fail. We need not expect to have earthly friends who shall last us all our lifetime. Those who are our most intimate companions to-day may to-morrow forsake us. But I hope you will enjoy spiritual life more than ever, and seek to devote all the health and strength God may see fit to grant you, in His own service and to His own glory. I think you have been a Martha long enough; turn a new leaf now and become a Mary. You will realize more happiness in old age than you have done hitherto, by ascending betimes, with the eye of faith, the heights of Pisgah, and viewing the beautiful home, bright and fair, that lies beyond the Jordan. I hope you are all well. Give my regards to father and all, and believe me to be,
"Your loving son,
Under date "Knox College, Toronto, January 24th, 1875," he writes to a cousin about whose spiritual interest he felt much concern. He says: "Oh, if there is anything that rejoices my heart, and gives me moments of true happiness, it is to see one whom I love becoming a lover of the Saviour, and thus enjoying the same happiness, partaking of the same fulness of love and grace, and above all, cherishing the same blessed prospect of eternal bliss as myself. I have made trial both of the world and of Christ, and oh, what a contrast! Alas! that I should have filled out fifteen long years to no purpose, satisfying self and Satan, when all my time was due to Him who died that I might live. Alas! that I should have so long lived on the husks of the world, when in the Father's house there was plenty and to spare. Alas! that I should have lived naked and destitute of raiment, when during all these long years Jesus was offering to me the spotless robe of His own righteousness.
"Oh, if you have not yet received Christ into your heart, let me entreat you as one who loves your soul, to receive Him now; and then you will have something for which to live, and when life's battle is ending, and you are about to exchange the mortal for the immortal, you can sing—
'I'll soon be at home over there,
For the end of my journey I see;
Many dear to my heart over there
Are waiting and watching for me.'"
His last illness, as already indicated, was short in duration, but it was very rich in Christian experience and testimony.
To his father, who was sitting beside his bed, he said:
"Oh, father, you have been so good to me. You have done so much for me, and I have been so bad to you." He then addressed his Father in heaven and said: "I will ask God's forgiveness first. Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy servants." After praying to God for some time in this manner, he turned again to his earthly father, and confessed his many sins to him. "Oh, father, I have been so stubborn, strong-headed and self-willed. I have disobeyed you so often. Will you forgive me, father?" The father assured him he had nothing hard against him in his mind, but if he had done anything ill, he had forgiven him long ago. He then burst forth in expressions of gratitude to God for such a father. In speaking about himself he expressed deep humility, and his utter unworthiness of any of the least of God's mercies. "Oh, the love of God," he said, "Christ dying for sinners, poor lost sinners, Christ dying for worms! What an ocean of love is seen here. May we all, blessed Saviour, be drinking largely out of this ocean which is free to the vilest sinner."
Observing his sister standing beside the bed, he said: "Oh, sister, do not rest one moment satisfied without a real union with Christ. I do not know but that you knew Jesus long before I did; but do not rest until you are sure of a real union—a lasting union existing between your soul and Christ. Do not rest satisfied with an outward confession of sins, but may the blessed work of the Spirit be carried on to perfection within your soul. Walk in the ways of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, meekness, holiness and truth, for these are the fruits of the Spirit."
At another time he spoke to his sister Tena alone, and said: "Remember, dear sister, that in times of prosperity you need to be very watchful. You are very apt then to set your heart on the things of time and sense. You are apt to be allured from the straight and narrow path, and to forget your God. You require more grace at such times to keep your heart. Do not let anything here have the room in your heart that Christ should have. I believe God will be with you, and keep you, and preserve you. I trust you are united to the Lord Jesus Christ by living faith, and that He will never leave you, nor forsake you."
At another time, speaking about growth in grace, he said: "I believe decidedly we ought to be making progress in the divine life every day we live. We ought to be getting closer to God in love and likeness every day." He then repeated the verse: "Nearer, my God, to Thee."
He often mourned over how little he had done for Jesus. On one of these occasions, he said: "Have we not enlisted as soldiers under thy banner, the blood-red banner of King Emanuel, and should we not be doing something? Is it possible that there is one idle soldier in the army? There are precious souls perishing around us, and so many millions throughout the world. Should we not try to rescue the perishing? We have even many friends and relatives who are far from Christ. Let us speak to them lovingly, and try to win them by love that we may give them no offence."
On one occasion he repeated a verse that his cousin John gave him, and seemed to be greatly pleased with it. It was Ps. xliii. 5: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
"John gave me that verse," said he. He then prayed for him, and afterwards for all the family, that God would bless them, and make them a blessing to others. He spoke some time about ——, who had infidel views. "Oh," he said, "he has such good natural qualities; he seems to be so meek, kind and agreeable; I feel so sorry that he should hold such views. To live without God and die without hope is too awful to think of. I often thought I would write him a letter, but I could never get courage to do so. I hope he may yet be brought into a knowledge of the truth. May God bless all the family."
Seeing his brothers and sisters standing around him weeping, he exclaimed: "Do not shed a tear for me. I love you all; you are so good to me, but I would rather depart and be with Christ, which is far better than to remain with the nearest and dearest friends here. Our light afflictions are but for a moment, and work out for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
He often prayed for patience to bear his trouble, and to be resigned to the will of God. On one occasion he said: "I pray not that thou wouldst take me out of this affliction, but that thou wouldst give me grace that I may bear it patiently." Again he said: "For my part I would rather go, but for your sakes I would like to stay." He then gave some reasons for wishing to go, enumerating a list of the qualities of this earth, and also a list of the qualities of the "home over there," and told his friends to contrast the two.
Speaking to his father about faith in God, he said: "Would it not be dishonoring to you, if I would not believe you? It would be mean and unworthy. So it must be very dishonoring to God not to believe what He says. I do think unbelief is the great sin."
At onetime he repeated very emphatically: "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of sin for a season," and then, as if addressing David, he said: "Well might you say that, David. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the palaces of sin."
On another occasion he repeated the first verse of the thirteenth chapter of Zechariah, and asked: "What did the clause 'To the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem' mean?" It was explained to him that this indicated provision made in Christ for the king and for the common people, high and low, rich and poor. He was greatly pleased with the explanation, and requested that the whole chapter be read to him.
To his aunt, who was attending him, and to whom he many times expressed his gratitude for her great kindness, he remarked that she looked so much like his dear mother, who had died two years before, and then added: "Auntie, is it not right that we should use every means in our power to induce our friends and relatives who are far from Christ, to come to Him?"
"Oh, Tena," said he to his sister, "what an awful thing it will be if even one of our family will be lost in the great day."
As the end drew near the pearly gate seemed to stand ajar, and he had a transporting vision of the Golden City. "Oh, the glory!" he exclaimed, "of the heavenly land. It passes our finite comprehension. The great things that God hath prepared for us, eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor mind conceived, but," continued he, his countenance glowing with celestial radiance, "these things are not unknown to us even here, for God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit."
Of few are the following lines more descriptive than of George Mackay:
"E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
"Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave."
A Zorra boy who dearly loves the old township, and whose great delight it is royally to entertain any of its people who give him the opportunity, is Mr. Thomas Adams, of Detroit. In a recent letter to the writer, he says: "The impressions made upon my young mind during the years I spent in Zorra, by contact with the practical, persevering, industrious and self-denying character of the people of that time, have been my ideal through life; and to my Zorra education I attribute in great measure what success I have attained. Young men, whether remaining in their Zorra homes, or casting their lot in strange lands, will commit no mistake in making Zorra ethics of the forties their standard."
Providence has been kind to Mr. Adams, entrusting him with a large amount of this world's goods, and seldom has wealth been committed to more worthy hands. A total abstainer, industrious, thrifty and God-fearing, success in business was assured him from the start. At first he worked for a time in Col. Dent's distillery, Embro; but he soon concluded that making whiskey was not the work for him.
The event that brought him to this conclusion is worthy of note. A companion and fellow-worker had recently moved from the distillery in Embro to that in Stratford. One morning he was found dead under circumstances that clearly indicated that he fell a victim to strong drink. Notice of his death reached Embro on Saturday, and he was to be buried the following Sunday. Thomas Adams, along with John Cody, Michael and Edward Brophy, and a few other young men, started early Sunday morning and walked from Embro to Stratford and back, thirty-two miles, in order to attend the funeral. The funeral service was conducted by the late Rev. Thomas McPherson, who took occasion faithfully to admonish his hearers against intemperance, and quoted the scripture warning, "No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God." The sermon was a searching one, and together with the mournful occasion, made a deep impression on the minds of the young men from Embro. "On the way home," says Mr. Adams, "we discussed the whole matter, and some of us pledged ourselves to have nothing more to do either with the making or selling of whiskey. This determination in no small degree shaped my future career. Next day I informed my master that I was leaving the whiskey business. He tried hard to laugh me out of such a 'foolish notion,' as he called it; but he did not succeed, and to my firm decision on that occasion I trace, in a large measure, my success in life."
Leaving Embro, he went to Buffalo, where he worked as a day laborer. His wages were very small, but from the first he determined to lay aside a little for the rainy day—an example to the young men of to-day.
From Buffalo he went to Detroit, where he apprenticed himself to a brass-founder, named Silas N. Kendrick. Mr. Kendrick was a man of generous spirit, and the relation between master and servant was a peculiarly happy one. Mr. Adams writes: "My apprenticeship agreement with him was for forty cents a day for the first year, sixty cents per day for the second, and seventy-five cents for the third. The second month of the first year I was paid fifty cents per day to the end of that year, at which time I reminded Mr. Kendrick of the beginning of the second year, expecting to be paid the sixty cents, according to the original agreement. He replied, 'After working hours this evening, come to the office.' I expected to get a good fatherly talking to as well as the sixty cents per day. Well, I got the first, after which he said: 'Thomas, how much do you think you are worth to me?' I replied, 'I wish I was worth one dollar a day to you.' After a few moments of silence the cheering reply came, 'Thomas, you are worth it, and you shall be paid it.' That moment," continues Mr. Adams, "inspired me with richer feelings than any event of subsequent years."
Well would it be to-day if all masters and servants practised the golden rule like Kendrick and Adams.
Having served his apprenticeship, Mr. Adams continued to work with Mr. Kendrick as a journeyman until he was, through his industry and thrift, in a position to start in business for himself.
Selling out the brass works, he, with two others, purchased an interest in a sailing vessel.
Then as financial conditions justified, the company went on, purchasing and building, until their fleet consisted of nine steam and sail crafts, sailing between Duluth and Cleveland, Buffalo, etc. At present Mr. Adams is sole owner of the steamship Adams, capable of carrying one hundred thousand bushels of corn, or three thousand tons of ore or coal, and the contract building price of which was $132,000.
Mr. Adams has a retentive memory, and he delights to relate the incidents and experiences of "Auld Lang Syne," some of which we will here give. Speaking of the kind, self-sacrificing spirit which so generally characterized the pioneer fathers, he says: "No one could be more earnest in that direction than Mr. J. Cody, father of Mr. E. Cody, of Embro, who, when the village doctor refused to personally administer relief to cholera-stricken sufferers, did all that lay in his power for them, knowing well the danger involved. The exposure resulted in his death; he laid down his life for others. He was as great a hero, and showed as much moral courage, as any Canadian lad whose blood has drenched African soil."
Mr. Mervin Cody, brother of John Cody, now living near Sarnia, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, enjoying the calm evening of a religious life, forms a link connecting the present and the past Zorra. "Some few years ago he favored me," says Mr. Adams, "with a social call. Our conversation turned upon those of Embro who had gone to their eternal rest. In our minds we started on a walk through Commissioner Street, which was then, in 1844, all there was of the village. Beginning at Mr. Laycock's mill, we questioned ourselves about as follows: 'Where was Mr. Laycock?' Answer, 'Dead.' 'Where was Theron Hallock?' Answer, 'Dead.' And so on through the street. Asa Saunder, John D. Dent, John Cody, Donald Mackay, Mr. Rust, big and little Angus Mackay, Walsh, Taft, Gordon, John Mackay, Young and others whom I cannot now call to mind, all dead; very few of that period now remain.
"Boys then, as now, were sometimes unmindful of the exclusive rights of owners to their own melon patches. That indiscrimination led to a raid by some Embro boys on a bright moonlight night, about eleven o'clock, on Mr. Mervin Cody's melon patch, near the barn. Just as they were about to help themselves to the melons a dim light was seen in the barn. Subsequently a voice was heard in prayer. The boys scampered and remained hid in and behind the shed, until Mr. Cody had gone from the barn to the house. A consultation was then held by the boys, with the resolve that Mr. Cody's melons, under the circumstances, were not the kind of melons they wanted, and they returned to Embro, not with the melons, but with a good lesson that in after years, I am constrained to think, bore good fruit. A few weeks after the attempted raid, Mr. Cody was in Embro. On learning this the boys in a body met him in his brother's blacksmith shop, all feeling guilty, and related to him the whole episode. In his good nature he had a hearty laugh over it, and gave the boys a little wholesome advice, telling them that they were welcome to go in the day time and help themselves to his melons or to the fruit in his orchard."
The educational power of fine painting is very great. One of the earliest and most lasting impressions of the writer's life was from the reading of the story of the artist and his two pictures. One day, so the story ran, as the artist was abroad, he saw a very beautiful child, and for fear that he might never again see so lovely a face, he at once painted its portrait. This picture he hung up in his study, and the beautiful countenance cheered him in his work, as from day to day he delighted to gaze upon it. He resolved that if ever he had the opportunity he would paint its opposite, and hang the two pictures side by side by way of contrast. For a long time he could find no face ugly enough, but at last he found it in a hardened wretch confined for life in a prison cell. There in his gallery hung the pictures; the one a lovely innocent child, the other a hardened, profligate criminal. Imagine the painter's astonishment when he learned that the two pictures were of the same person. Vice had transformed the innocent child into the hardened criminal. The lesson was not lost upon me, and I remember well how the description impressed my youthful mind with the awful possibility for good or evil that lies before every young person.
Recently I spent a delightful hour in the art gallery of a Zorra boy, and the following lines are written with the hope that they may be interesting and helpful to my young readers.
Perhaps no finer collection of original paintings is possessed by any private individual in the province than that of which George N. Matheson, of Sarnia, is the happy possessor. This collection is very valuable, and it has received flattering notices from the press of both Canada and the United States, and from many prominent artists and art dealers.
Mr. Matheson is a son of the late Mr. Donald Matheson, of Embro, who for many years represented the County of Oxford in the Dominion Parliament, and the son is characterized by the same suavity of manner that so distinguished his honored father. He has been for many years collector of customs in Sarnia, and two large rooms of the customs building are devoted to his collection of paintings.
Calling on him, I was received with that cordiality with which one Zorra boy always receives another. Having talked over old times, I expressed a desire to see his collection of the fine arts. He was delighted to comply with my request. Entering the room, the first thing to attract the attention is an original painting by Byron Webb, its size being seven by five feet. It exhibits a mountain scene with a stag and some Scotch deerhounds. Just opposite this picture, on the other side of the room, is an Italian scene, by Claude Lorraine. The frame of this picture alone cost two hundred and fifty dollars. At the end of the room is a painting thought to be the work of the great Rubens, entitled "The Discomfiture of Achilles." It is a magnificent representation of the well-known classical romance in which Achilles, in the disguise of a female, seeks to interview the ladies of the Court of Lycomedes, King of the Scyros. Lycomedes suspects his guest, and sets a trap to catch Achilles. He puts in one part of the room a basket filled with the most beautiful jewelry, beads, bracelets, rings, etc. Near by he places a warrior's helmet, and then watches which would attract the attention of his guest. The picture represents Achilles paying no attention to the gew-gaws, but greatly interested in the helmet. Thus he gave himself away, and thus the old writer, as well as the painter, teach us that male and female differed in their tastes three thousand years ago much as they do to-day.
Lying on a table in this room is a folio of immense proportions, being no less than 33 by 23 inches. It was published in 1790, and contains a large number of pictures by Royal Academy artists, illustrating scenes in Shakespeare. The author's name is Boydell. Alongside this lie the complete works of Hogarth. This artist was born in 1697, and his works consist of a great variety of engravings representing life under different aspects. One that especially struck me was a series of paintings representing the various steps in the downward career of a beautiful country girl. She came to the city blooming and beautiful as a fragrant rose; but yielding to temptation, she sank lower and lower, till her emblem became, not the rose in its fragrant beauty, but the flower as it sometimes clings to its stem after the autumn frosts have done their work—decayed, putrid and loathsome.
"Mr. Matheson," I asked, "what started you in the line of fine arts?"
"Well," was the smiling reply, "I think I was born with some taste for the old and the beautiful; but it was a mere accident that led to the development of that taste that now, alone in old age, furnishes me so much enjoyment. I was living in Sandwich, and wished to get a watch-chain of a special design. I called at one of the jewellers' shops and told them what I wanted. The man informed me that there were no chains of that pattern manufactured, and the only man he knew who could make one was a jeweller named Thomas Miles, who lived at Port Huron. One day, being in Port Huron, I saw this man's sign, walked in, and met a little old Irishman, who had at one time been a court jeweller. Then and there began a friendship that lasted till death "did us part." The old man was a connoisseur in arts, and the possessor of a fine lot of pictures."
Here Mr. Matheson, with all the glowing enthusiasm of the ancestral Highlander, exhibited to me his family crest, wrought out of solid gold by the little Irishman of Port Huron. It consisted of a cock perched on a pedestal, richly draped, and attached to a long pin, all of solid gold. On the pedestal is inscribed the family motto, "Face et spera" (Work and hope).
Looking towards a quiet part of the room my eye rested on the beautiful picture of her who, for the short period of nine years, shared with Mr. Matheson the joys and sorrows of life. Her memory is still cherished and her elevating influence still felt.
George N. Matheson was born in Embro in 1835. In the eighteenth year of his age he left home for Hamilton to see Mr. Brydges, in order to get a situation on the G. W. Railway. "I went," he says, "by the last stage that ever drove between Woodstock and Hamilton; I returned by train, and I sold the first railway ticket ever sold in Woodstock." In 1856 he entered the customs in Paris, thence he was promoted to Woodstock and Point Edward. Since 1874 he has occupied his present position of great trust and responsibility.
His memory of boyhood days in Zorra is vivid. He loves to talk of old neighbors and friends—the Guns, the Gordons, the Hodgkinsons, the Youngs, the Kennedys and the Connors.
He speaks of the late Rev. Mr. Mackenzie in terms of the warmest affection. "I have heard," said he, "of my old pastor being charged with neglecting the spiritual interests of the young; but there is no truth in the charge.
"Well do I remember the little log building where the Sabbath School was held, and where Mr. Mackenzie taught me the catechism. During the summer months, every Sabbath evening, Mr. Mackenzie taught a Bible-class in the church."
Mr. Matheson speaks kindly even of his old public school teachers—John Cameron, Lachlan Macpherson, Nicholson, and John Ross. "These men were stern, and made a liberal use of burnt leather; but they and others thought they were doing their duty. The age was a stern one. Soldiers were whipped in the army, prisoners in the jails, children in their homes, and why should they not be in the school? I got many a sound thrashing, but I cherish no ill-will to the thrasher. He was faithfully doing that for which he was paid, and perhaps it did me good. It was a part of my early discipline."
The career of Donald Mackay affords us a fine illustration of a Christian man retaining his integrity even in politics. "Politics," says one, "are so corrupt you cannot touch them without being defiled; better have nothing to do with them." But such reasoning is neither Christian nor courageous. A Christian can be a Christian anywhere, and so long as politics are necessary to the maintenance of the State, it is the duty of the Christian to take part in them; Joseph remained pure amid the defilements of Egypt; Daniel maintained his integrity and lived a noble and honored life amid the debasements which surrounded him in the Babylonian court; Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and lived a life of purity and virtue, though surrounded by influences as corrupting as ever encompassed any man; Manaen, though he had in his boyhood as his companion one of the Herods, those monsters of iniquity, yet arose to be an honored teacher in the church at Antioch; uncongenial as was the atmosphere in Cæsar's household to the cultivation of Christian character, still saints were to be found there.
The late C. H. Spurgeon says: "The fact is, a certain class of men love to be quiet, and are ready to sell their country to the evil one himself, so that they may live at ease and make no enemies. They have not the manliness to plead for the right, for it might cost them a customer or a friend, and so they profess a superior holiness as a reason for skulking."
If politics have become shamefully corrupt, does it follow that the cultured, the refined, the godly are justified in holding themselves entirely aloof, and thus make an increase in corruption not only possible, but certain? Shall we hand the government of the country over to the devil, and then complain that he does not run it on religious principles? Patriotism as well as piety forbids such action.
The young men of Canada have great responsibilities as well as possibilities before them. Our Dominion has certainly entered upon a new era of progress and development. We regard ourselves no longer a separate colony of a few million people, but a part of a great empire which includes one-fourth of the earth's inhabitants.
A new spirit is taking possession of the people. Politics must be regarded not as something outside the sphere of religion, but as a part—a very important part—of a Christian's activity. Christianity must be regarded, not as a mere effort to save one's own soul, but as a daily endeavor to build up a community in which the souls of all will thrive in the common air of truth, justice, morality and virtue. Young men of Canada, be it your ambition to share this higher patriotism, to be baptized into this new spirit, that you may be prepared for the century of enlarged hope about to dawn upon us. You will become real men just as you learn to ask, not what is popular, but what is right; not what others do, but what you ought to do; not how easily we can get through life, but how righteously. In developing such a manhood the career of Hon. Donald Mackay will be very helpful to you.
Donald Mackay was born on the seventh line, West Zorra, in the year 1842. His father and mother moved from Sutherlandshire to Zorra in 1830. Here they raised a family of ten children—seven sons and three daughters—of whom nine are still living.
Having learned the plasterer's trade, Donald left home in the twenty-third year of his age, and went to San Francisco, where he worked six months at his calling. After this he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he still lives. Until 1890 he was known in Portland only as an industrious and honorable contractor and a successful man of business. In this year he embarked in the lumber trade, and thus set out on a career of wonderful prosperity and usefulness. He is now president and treasurer of the North Pacific Lumber Company, the largest plant of the kind in the State of Oregon, having a capital of $400,000. His son is secretary and assistant manager. Besides the local trade, this company ships to China, Japan, Siberia and the west coast of South America.
The writer is not sufficiently acquainted with Masonry to pronounce an opinion upon it, but to those who are acquainted with the mysteries of that society, I may say that Donald Mackay has taken all the degrees, and at present represents the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of Canada in the west.
In 1888 he was elected a member of the State Senate, and still continues in this honorable position.
Mr. Mackay says: "In early days my religious life was developed through the means of my minister, the Rev. D. Mackenzie; my public school teacher, Mr. James Yool; my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Joshua Youngs; and, more than all, through the influence of a godly, praying mother, and amid what some would call unfavorable surroundings, these early religious convictions I still fondly cherish."
Speaking of his public career, Mr. Mackay says:
"In this part of the country the political control gradually drifted into the hands of the selfish and irreligious. Trickery and corruption took the place of statesmanship and patriotism, until the term politician had become one of reproach.
"To many the task of purifying the body-politic seemed hopeless, but to those who had studied closely the practical working of politics, nothing seemed clearer than that the hope of the State lay in the purification of political life through good men realizing the duties of Christian citizenship. For many years I have felt, with ever-increasing conviction, that true Christianity, like the sap of a tree, runs through every branch and twig and leaf of a man's character, and sanctifies all; and my humble effort has been, in State and Church, to promote that which tends to righteousness in the community, and to restrain and put down that which is hurtful and evil. Great Britain and the United States will flourish, not in proportion to the strength of their armies or navies, but just as their policy and administration are founded upon righteousness; to secure this righteousness Christian people must awaken, and make their influence felt.
"The responsibility for the present disgraceful condition of affairs rests with those who, with superior airs of sanctity, preserve their purity by 'keeping out of politics.' Multitudes of religious professors regard their religion as they do their Sunday clothes, too fine for everyday wear; instead of remembering that it is to be used as an armor in the daily battle of life.
"To-day we need more of the noble fire and living faith of the old Covenanters, who were in the world and yet not of it, willing to shed their life blood for the social and political welfare. In no department of his life can the man of integrity and religious conviction shine with greater lustre than in the field of Christian statesmanship."
Although Senator Mackay is now a matured politician, he is noted as a man of quiet and peaceable disposition.
The story is told that on one occasion a gentleman from Portland was travelling in a distant part of the country, when he accidentally met Mr. Walter Mackay, a brother of the Senator. In the course of conversation Mr. W. Mackay soon learned that his fellow-traveller was from Portland, and the following conversation ensued:
"Are you from Portland?"
"Do you know Senator Mackay, of that place?"
"I do, and a good Christian gentleman he is."
"I did not use to think so; he and I have had many a spat."
"If so, it must have been your fault, for Senator Mackay wouldn't quarrel with any decent man."
"Decent! Humph! He allowed his mother for years to do my washing."
Here the Portland man struck a belligerent attitude, and angrily asked:
"What do you mean, sir?"
"Oh," smilingly responded Mr. Mackay, "I only mean that Senator Mackay's mother was my mother."
The career of James Fraser, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, England, is fitted to inspire every young man to make the most of himself. Born of pious, industrious parents, and reared under Christian influences, he early dedicated himself to God, and from that day a holy ambition fired his soul, and his life has been onward and upward, until to-day he occupies one of the highest positions ever won by a Canadian, or by any colonist in England. The object of this sketch is briefly to indicate the steps by which he rose.
James Fraser was born on November 6th, 1846, on lot 9, concession 10, East Zorra. He is the eldest son of Captain William and Jane Fraser (née Mackay). His father is still living, enjoying good health at the age of eighty-five, and has been for many years an esteemed elder in Chalmers Church, Woodstock. Like Timothy of old, Dr. Fraser owes much to his mother and paternal grandmother. If ever the history of the famous women of Zorra should be written, Mrs. Fraser, sen., will occupy a prominent place in it.
Of his parents Dr. Fraser says: "I would be less than grateful if I did not acknowledge my indebtedness to my father and mother. They denied themselves very much to educate their children, and did all that parental love could suggest, or their circumstances permit, to equip us for the battle of life. When I was struggling hard during the first few years in England, few things gave me greater courage under disappointment than the consciousness of their never-failing sympathy. I always felt that if no person else appreciated my efforts, they did. My old home in Zorra is to me one of the dearest spots in the world, and to send some little token of my affection there from time to time is my purest pleasure."
His happy English surroundings have in no way diminished Dr. Fraser's attachment to the district where first he saw the light. A Zorra man who visited his charming English home relates that on the plate glass over the front door are inscribed in letters of gold the one word, "Embro," and, true to his Highland ancestry, he calls his home "Dornoch."
Of his early teachers he says: "The one who helped me most, and made the deepest impression on my mind, was Mr. John Shaw. He took a great interest in his work, and boys who really tried made good progress under his tuition."
Some of his school-fellows he mentions and characterizes as follows: "The Wood boys, who were very kind and generous; the Griffiths, so friendly; Sandy Mackay (Captain), who never stooped to anything mean; my uncle, Robert Mackay, whose progress at school was alike creditable to himself and his teachers; Billy Bruce, so full of fun and mischief; George L. Mackay, whose impulsive nature has since been so wonderfully consecrated and utilized in the Master's service; James Sutherland, now a minister of the Canadian Cabinet, whose tenacity of purpose I have good reason to remember; last, but not least, my brother William, now in heaven, between whom and myself existed, yea, and still exists, the strongest bond of affection. His was a promising career, but it was cut short. His last letter to me is my most cherished possession. In it he expresses much concern for the salvation of those about him."
Among his early pastors he mentions the Revs. D. Mackenzie, D. Allen and John Fraser. The preaching of the latter he greatly enjoyed. Of them all he says: "They aroused me, but as yet I had no peace. My father wisely allowed me to go to Woodstock and hear Dr. McMullen as often as I liked, when the rest of the family drove to Embro. I walked by myself to Knox church. I remember distinctly when coming home from church, I used to cut corners by walking through the fields and woods, and would sit down and rest under a tree, the while thinking of what the preacher had said, and refreshing my memory from notes I had taken. I would then kneel down and pray for help. What a precious time this was to me! It was God's light coming gently into the darkness of a human soul. Dr. McMullen helped me very much, and I am grateful to him to this day."
To each of my young readers I would say, take a note of this part of James Fraser's experience. Think of him on bended knee in the woods, at the root of that tree, pouring out his heart to God. This kept him pure, and made him strong, courageous, persevering. To-day many young people are always in a hurry and bustle, rushing from church to church, and from service to service, and seldom sit down to commune with their own hearts, and quietly to digest and take stock of their spiritual condition. The result is their religion is dwarfish, weak, unsatisfying. Spiritual prosperity largely depends on private communion with God. What the hidden root is to the leaf, fruit and flower, that private devotion is to the public man. He who knew what was in man said: "Enter into thy closet and shut the door."
When about twenty years of age, James Fraser chose the veterinary profession as his calling. The Montreal Veterinary School, which was affiliated to McGill College, had just then begun its career. Mr. Fraser attended there for two sessions, taking physiology, chemistry, zoology, botany and geology with the medical students. The late Sir William Dawson was then in the zenith of his power. Mr. Fraser attended not only his scientific addresses during the week, but his Bible-class lectures every Sabbath afternoon; thus his head and heart were simultaneously trained.
His experience after leaving Montreal I will give in his own graphic language:
"I found that to obtain a thorough knowledge of my profession I must go either to London or Edinburgh. I chose the latter, which was then under the guidance of Principal Williams and an able staff of professors. With my father's consent I sailed from New York for Scotland on October 15th, 1868. I joined the senior class and found them far ahead of me, so I put my shoulder to the wheel with a vengeance, and worked day and night, for I could not afford to be plucked. At the end of the session came the much dreaded exams. Much to my surprise I came out one of the top three. The three were a Scotchman, an Irishman and a Canadian. We were recalled to be examined for the college prize. In that final struggle I was beaten. We stood as follows: First, the Scotchman; second, the Canadian; third, the Irishman. The winner and the third man both had one session longer at college than I. When I left the board room that day defeated, I confess I would have liked a cheer from Zorra. I took it for granted though, for I was sure if the Zorra lads had been there they would have thrown their bonnets in the air for their old comrade.
"However, I was through, and that was enough for me. A word or two about Edinburgh. I had little or no time when attending the classes for sight-seeing, except on Sabbath, and I felt tired with the week's work, and devoted that day to the purpose for which God appointed it. I usually attended the ministry of Dr. Thompson, but I heard also many other men of note, such as Dr. Candlish, Dr. Guthrie, Dr. Norman McLeod and Dean Ramsay. Here I often saw and once heard Prof. John Stuart Blackie speak. It was grand to see that fine old Scot walking along Princess Street. He seemed part of the city. Tall, lithe, erect, buoyant, with snow-white hair, his plaid about his shoulder in the old Scotch fashion, all made up a unique personality.
"I would advise all Zorra boys to get his book on 'The Language and Literature of the Scottish Highlands.' After the exams I went to see many places of interest—Arthur's Seat, the Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood, Assembly Hall, John Knox's house, etc. I have seen many cities since, but none equals Edinburgh for beauty. In addition to its fine streets and buildings, it is highly favored by Nature; the site is romantic.
"The day after I received my diploma, Principal Williams offered me an appointment as assistant to a practitioner in England, and I thought it wise to accept. I confess I was not much use, for I had seen so little practice. However, by keeping my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut, I managed to get along fairly well, although sorely pressed at times. My experience with animals on my father's farm was a great help to me.
"I crept along step by step, until after four years' time, a very lucrative practice was placed at my disposal. There was, however, one big difficulty—I had not sufficient capital to pay for it or to conduct it after it was paid for. To get over this difficulty, I agreed with the vendor that I should serve him three months as assistant, intending to await the developments of the situation. At the expiration of the time I had so far gained his confidence that he consented to leave the larger part of the purchase money at interest, to be paid off in instalments. The way was now clear, and nothing remained but steady application to duty.
"Horses of great value, some worth $100,000 each, were placed under my care, and I had many a restless night, owing to serious illness among them. My clients included the Prince of Wales, the late Duke of Westminster, Lord Allington, Sir F. Johnston, Sir Richard Sutton, and many other wealthy and distinguished men. The work was all new to me, and I had to be very careful to avoid mistakes. Practitioners in the other branch of medicine bury their mistakes with their patients. Not so with us. Post-mortems have to be made there and then on our dead patients, and errors of judgment declare themselves with painful accuracy. To err is human, and no man should be blamed if he does his best and displays ordinary skill. The man of the world does not, however, take that view of it, and many a poor fellow who does his best suffers loss of reputation.
"I was at this time working hard for the higher degree of my college. I got the fellowship in 1879.
"All this time I was reading English literature, and great was the pleasure it afforded me. My favorite authors were Ruskin, Carlyle, Froude, Green, Darwin, Huxley, Bain, Mill, John Morrow, George Eliot, George Macdonald, and kindred writers. My favorite poets were Whittier, Browning and Pollok. I was fortunate in having access to good libraries.
"In 1891 I was elected member of the Council of the R.C.V.S., and in 1899 president, by the unanimous vote of the Council. This is the greatest honor of my life, and one that I highly appreciate. Last Christmas I presided over the examinations in Edinburgh, in the very room where I had the struggle for the college prize thirty years ago."
I may mention that Dr. Fraser is also vice-president of the "Royal Institute of Public Health," England, and also vice-president of the British Institute of Preventive Medicine, of which the famous Lord Lister is president.
Notwithstanding the many and heavy responsibilities of his calling, Dr. Fraser has done much successful work of a religious character, especially as a teacher of a very large Bible-class.
To the question, "To what do you attribute your success in life?" Dr. Fraser replies:
"To God and the exercise of the ordinary gifts with which He has endowed me. I gave Him my heart, and He graciously fulfilled in me every promise made to those who put their trust in Him. Money is of little value when troubles come, as come they must to all. I found Him to be always near, and oh! so gracious and kind. Friends are of great value, but God is best of all.
"Some years ago I felt what I regarded as the foundation of belief slipping away from me. My mind was disturbed, restless, unsatisfied. I went to hear our best preachers and thinkers. Thomas Binney, known as the Bishop of Non-conformity; Alex. Raleigh, a charming poet preacher; R. W. Dale, who grasped his subject like a giant; Alex. Maclaren, whose persuasive eloquence still moves multitudes; Oswald Dykes, quiet, logical, convincing; C. H. Spurgeon, original, practical and honest—all these helped me greatly, each in his own way; still I lacked something which I cannot define.
"Relief came in a way and from a source I did not expect. George Macdonald's books accidentally (was it accidentally?) fell in my way, and I devoured them as a hungry man eats food. I saw things in a different light, and I felt the ground solid again under me. Oh, the joy, after being tossed on the stormy sea of uncertainty, to feel that I was once more standing on the solid rock! He preached occasionally in the suburbs of London, and I went whenever I could to hear him. I never heard the like before or since. He conducts the service not on a fixed plan, but just as the circumstances dictate. His prayer—no, it was not prayer in the ordinary sense, it was a man talking to God—was a revelation to me, an opening of the door of heaven. He took those who wished into the divine presence. His preaching—no, it was not preaching, it was a man talking to men—threw a flood of light on whatever subject he had selected. I never knew how great and good God is till George Macdonald told me.
"A few years after that he came to our house one evening, and took tea with my family. How delighted my wife and I were! He was to deliver a lecture on 'King Lear' in a large church, of which I was at that time honorary secretary, and that was how it came about that I had the pleasure and honor of being his host.
"If it would not be presumptuous to offer advice to any young lad who may read these words, I would say, 'Trust in God and do the right.' Remember, we are not sent here to make money, or even to be happy; we are sent here, if I understand it, for the development of our character. Look at the incidents and circumstances of your life, however untoward they may appear at times, as ministers sent to aid you in the accomplishment of this object. Look upon your fellowmen as those who need your support and, in some cases, your direction. Never forget that God is kind, and always feels kindly towards you. When you do wrong God is grieved, yet feels kindly, and desires you to do better. You will often be defeated, and perhaps fail in things you undertake, but don't lose heart. God never fails, nor will He fail you. Canon Kingsley said in his last hours, 'How beautiful God is!' Try and catch a glimpse of Him every day of your life, and then you will be getting like Him.
"That will be success."
In the early winter of 1855 a sensation occurred in Zorra which some of my readers will remember. On the 20th lot, 10th line, East Zorra, lived Paul Murray with his wife and family, at that time consisting of three sons and two daughters. Their house was one of the most commodious in the district, and apparently well adapted for a large gathering. So it was arranged to have the "catechizing" there, and on the Sabbath Rev. Mr. Mackenzie duly intimated the fact from the pulpit. The day arrived, and the Highlanders, men and women, old and young, from far and near, crowded into the place of meeting. The services began. The minister was engaged in prayer, when suddenly a loud crack was heard, and in another instant the floor gave way, going down in the centre, forming a concave, the shape of a mill-hopper. Those sitting on the outer row of seats escaped, as the floor broke off at their feet; but the others, with the stove and pots of boiling water, went down. There was, as usual in those days, a large stone hearth, and on this, fortunately for themselves, Mr. Mackenzie and his elders were seated, and, of course, did not go down. Some were burned, some were scalded, but, wonderful to say, none seriously hurt. The rest of the catechizing took place in the house of James Sutherland. A number of the young men at once went to work, and before night new "sleepers" took the place of the old ones, and the damage was repaired.
In 1829 Paul Murray settled in Zorra, being then in the eighteenth year of his age, and newly out from Sutherlandshire. Here he lived till 1874, having as neighbors James Mackay, John Gilchrist, Benjamin McIntosh, Sandy Sutherland, James Sutherland, William Ross, and Hugh Ross. He was a man of happy, hopeful disposition, of active habit and tireless perseverance.
His career emphatically teaches what patient industry and intelligence can effect in overcoming obstacles that discourage and turn away the indolent and faint-hearted. With his own hand he cleared his bush farm, built his own house and barn, and planted what turned out to be a large and first-class orchard. He erected frame barns for not a few of his neighbors. He was also an expert in the use of the gun—the Nimrod of the district. Deer, wild pigeons and foxes were the principal game, and fish were abundant. He is now in his ninetieth year, and still the proud possessor of the old Kentucky rifle with which he brought down many a stag in the early days, and which, as he delights to tell, he carried during his service to the Queen in '37. It is not too much to say that his equal with the gun has never been found in Zorra. His mantle has fallen on his son John, as the engraving which precedes this article indicates.
In May, 1874, he and his family left Zorra and journeyed by New York, Panama, San Francisco, Victoria, New Westminster, and finally settled in Langley Prairie, B.C., where they have ever since resided. His farm in British Columbia was timber or bush land. On it grew some of the largest fir and cedar giants which are found anywhere in the Fraser valley—a valley remarkable for the great size of its timber. As an instance of the immense size of some of those trees, it may be stated that Mr. Murray lived for several months in the hollow stump of a large cedar while he was building a house. But however acceptable the hollow stump was as a makeshift, and however suitable to the tastes and habits of ubiquitous and voracious mosquitoes, it was ill-adapted to protect a Christian man and his family from summer's heat and winter's cold.
At this time Mr. Murray, though past the threescore line, was in the very vigor of manhood. The nearest saw-mill was at New Westminster, sixteen miles distant. The road was of the most primitive kind. Horses and wagons were few and far between. Hauling of lumber, therefore, sufficient to build a house of such dimensions as Mr. Murray and his family required, would have been a very costly and laborious undertaking. But here and now he reaped the benefit of his experience and training in Zorra. The new situation did not daunt him in the least. At the age of sixty-three he felled the big trees growing on his own land, hewed them into shapely logs, cut shingles and prepared rafters. In a short time a large, substantial, comfortable log-house stood on a rising ground, overlooking Langley Prairie, and near which was a perennial abundant spring of purest water. The house was worthy of the builder and of the material. "In it," writes a Presbyterian minister, "many a tired traveller from Sumas and Chilliwack, in the early days, found a cosy shelter, a clean bed, and a well-cooked meal."
Mr. Murray's third son, Alexander, was drowned in the Fraser River, in the twenty-sixth year of his age, when seeking to save a companion. He and two others were in a boat, when it capsized. Mr. Murray, being an expert swimmer, succeeded in saving one, and returned to the rescue of the other, when both sank.
During all his varied experiences and long travels, Paul Murray has seldom ever used saddle or buggy, preferring to do all his journeys on foot. In his ninetieth year he is hale and hearty, and any fine day you can see him walking through his orchard or doing small chores about the farm. The greater part of his time, however, he spends in reading, without the aid of spectacles, his Gaelic Bible. He is truly a living epistle of Christ.
In 1876 the members of the Presbyterian Church at Langley Prairie were asked to elect one of their number to act as elder. Paul Murray was their unanimous choice, and he was duly ordained to the sacred office. "He is," writes one, "a man of sterling integrity and rare worth; a grand example of Scotch industry, perseverance and genuine piety."
Such men may live in quietness and obscurity, but their influence is felt; they belong to the Lord's nobility, and on the great day they shall be owned by the King.
The Fletcher family consisted of father, mother, four sons, and two daughters. They moved from St. Catharines into Zorra in 1841, and constituted the only family not Highland in the district. This peculiarity made them the object of much interest, and perhaps also commiseration. In some respects, it must be confessed, they were considerably in advance of their Celtic neighbors—they owned a lumber-wagon and a grindstone. The latter became a sort of common property in the neighborhood, and was regarded as a great convenience by all except Jimmy Fletcher, the lad who was expected to turn it whenever a neighbor came to sharpen his knife, axe, or scythe. "I got," says he, "into the habit of disappearing very mysteriously on such occasions."
The circumstances of this family were for some years straitened enough. While the father and two elder sons, Aaron and Israel, worked hard from dawn till dark, clearing the farm, Mrs. F., assisted by her two little girls, not only attended to the indoor work, but on her loom wove clothing for the neighbors till late every night, and thus greatly helped to support the family. "She wove so much for the neighbors," writes her son, "that she found little time to weave for us boys. My mother had a great faculty for making garments out of all sorts of materials. Joseph's coat of many colors was far outstripped by some of the coats we flourished in those days."
By-and-by their condition became more comfortable. A considerable part of the farm was cleared, and the crops were good. Cattle, sheep and hogs were abundant, and, finally, horses gladdened the eyes of the boys. Never were boys more passionately fond of horses than the boys of the Fletcher family. "Riding on horseback," says James, "was the delight of my young life, and for years I took a colt each winter to break in for some of our neighbors, and in this way provided myself with the means of conveyance, while I taught singing-school in a number of places throughout the township."
A striking characteristic of the whole Fletcher family was their never-failing good humor; they were brimful of fun. Joking, laughing, merry-making—this is the picture I have of them after the lapse of nearly fifty years. Let no one underestimate the value of a sunny, even merry, disposition. It may easily be overdone, but kept within moderate restraint it serves a most useful purpose in life. It certainly made the Fletchers very popular with their Highland neighbors. "They are always happy, and there is nothin' they'll no do for a body," was the opinion frequently expressed.
"It is easy to smile and be pleasant
When life flows by like a song;
But the man worth while
Is the man who can smile
When everything goes dead wrong."
In this paper we will speak of only the two younger boys of this family, James and John, both of whom are still living.
In his eighteenth year, Jimmy Fletcher, as he was familiarly called, began to teach. He taught school on the 16th line for one year.
"I was full of ambition," he writes, "and determined to push myself to the front. I saved enough money the first year to enable me to take a course in grammar and mathematics, as far as required to obtain a first-class certificate."
After this he taught the school on the 9th line, where he himself had, a few years before, attended as a scholar, some of his old schoolmates now becoming his pupils. The writer was one of these; and I am free to say that a more clever, tactful teacher I never had. To a large extent he discarded the use of the taws and the many other foolish and cruel methods of punishment in vogue up to his time. He gave us his confidence, and we gave him ours, and never did teacher and scholars get along more harmoniously. The school-house was no longer a place of punishment, but the brightest spot in the district. Jimmy Fletcher was a good fiddler, and during the noon hour he would take down his fiddle and play, while the boys and girls would dance and whirl and whoop after the most approved Highland fashion. Hec. Ross, Hugh Anderson, John Sutherland and some more of the older boys helped the teacher supply the music. Thus the education of the heels and head went on concurrently for a time, until J. C., a trustee of ultra-Puritanical views, thought it was "na richt for young people to be sae thochtless," and as the spring was coming on, the bigger boys and girls left school, and so the dancing ceased.
In 1864 James Fletcher went to the United States. His experience has been varied, and he has wrought at a variety of things, with more or less temporary success. "Pegging away," without thought of resting until the end is accomplished, is a quality in which James Fletcher does not excel. His achievements have been worthy, in some instances brilliant; but he has accomplished far less than he otherwise would because of this lack of untiring, persistent effort in one direction.
He is the author of a number of ingenious inventions, some of which have brought him considerable revenue, but only for a season. He still fondly remembers his old neighbors, chums and school-mates. Of Donald MacLeod, his nearest neighbor, he says: "To this day I cannot recall a man in all my varied experience that I think fully his equal in honesty of purpose and faithful loyalty to duty." Of James, the eldest son of Donald MacLeod, he writes: "So pure in heart, so lofty in aim, he was called to the better land while yet his sun had scarcely reached its zenith. I do not expect to ever see his like again." Angus MacLeod he also mentions in terms of admiration. John Bruce, Alex. M. Sutherland, and the writer are still in his heart as well as in his memory. He closes his letter with the following words: "I have been over the world a great deal since the days of 'Auld Lang Syne,' but I have nowhere met in one place such a number of strong, brainy and successful boys as were fashioned in my own little neighborhood on the 8th line of Zorra."
John A. Fletcher, brother of James, was the wag of the district, always making fun or perpetrating some practical joke. I will not say that his humor was of the most cultured kind, but it was the natural product of his time and surroundings, and it did not a little to lighten the burdens and brighten the lives of the weary Zorra pioneers of fifty years ago. He saw only the sunny side of life, and if ever there was one who could extract sunbeams out of cucumbers, it was he.
He is now a well-to-do farmer in Wexford, Mich., and seems still to retain some of his old-time humor. In a recent letter to the writer, he says: "The Fletcher family was, I think, the only non-Highland family in the school. Our ignorance of the Gaelic was regarded by our neighbors as a great misfortune, but something we 'couldna help,' so we were forgiven and very kindly treated. I look back with pride upon the Scotch laddies of that day, who in spite of early difficulties have pushed their way and climbed to eminence. The Fletcher boys did most of their climbing into apple trees, or in the woods after chipmunks.
"As to myself," he modestly continues, "I was never afflicted with push, pluck, or perseverance. My teachers tried hard to find in me the spring of learning in the same way that the pioneers used to try to locate a spring of water, viz., with a blue-beech rod; but in vain. Fun was more to me than college life, and fun I had."
"John Fletcher," shouted his teacher, "what are you doing—reading?" "Na." "Writing?" "Na." "Ciphering?" "Na." "What then are you doing?" "Just waiting till school gets out."
John was not so strict an observer of the Sabbath as his Scotch neighbors, and tradition has it that one Sabbath afternoon he and two companions went out to the woods and killed no less than twenty-two chipmunks. There was in the neighborhood a stream of water over which there was a narrow foot-bridge. Over this bridge the people coming from church had to pass, and John Fletcher put the twenty-two slaughtered innocents on the centre of the little foot-bridge, and then from his concealment a little way off saw the antics and listened to the screams of the terrified women trying to pass.
A friend who, along with three or four others, once accompanied John Fletcher for a whole day, in a wagon along a toll-road, relates how at each toll-gate, as the woman put out her hand to take the money, John would clasp it tenderly, and, with the most affectionate look on his face, inquire into the welfare of herself and family and friends. The thing was done so naturally that in no case was any offence taken, but in most cases he was thought to be some real though forgotten friend of the family.
Some little distance from John Fletcher's home there lived a tombstone agent, more noted for his zeal in pushing his business than for tender regard for the feelings of recently bereaved ones. South of Embro, about six or seven miles, there was a man who had just lost his wife—not, however, by death, but by elopement. She had run away with a young neighbor. So John Fletcher thought of a practical joke. He hied off to the residence of the tombstone man, and in the course of conversation asked him if he had heard that Mr. —— had lost his wife. "Has he? I must go and see if I cannot sell him a tombstone." So off he went next morning. He found the bereaved husband plowing with his oxen in the field. To win confidence the agent did the plowing for some time, and then the following conversation ensued:
Agent: "You've lost your wife, I understand?"
Farmer: "Oh, yes, she's gone."
Agent: "You'll want to erect a memorial stone for her?"
Farmer: "What! Let the scoundrel who ran away with her put up a stone for her."
It is needless to say that the tombstone man soon disappeared. John Fletcher did not call on him for a long, long time after this.
Another illustration of John's practical jokes may here be given. A Methodist minister, by the name of Brown, was announced to give an address on "Missions" in the 9th line school-house. As the Fletchers were the only Methodists in the neighborhood, the preacher, of course, stayed there. A missionary meeting was no ordinary affair in those days, and all, old and young, were sure to attend. The hope was expressed that the collection would be a liberal one. James and John Fletcher became interested in the missionary meeting, and a spirit of mischief prompted them to a very doubtful method of preparing themselves and others for the collection. They made a number of disks, about the size and appearance of the old English six-penny piece. A large quantity of these they distributed to the other boys of the neighborhood.
The evening for the missionary meeting came. The school-house was but dimly lighted with a couple of candles. Rev. Mr. Brown spoke pathetically of the ignorance and degradation of the heathen, and made an eloquent plea for a liberal contribution. Then the hat was passed round by J. C., an aged Highlander, whose eyesight was not too good. Soon the hat was literally filled with a good silver(?) collection. Never before was such a large collection taken up in Zorra.
That evening or next morning the preacher said nothing about the collection. Mrs. Fletcher, who was a devoted Methodist, was somewhat surprised at this, and at the breakfast table she ventured to congratulate the preacher on the good collection of the previous evening. She had seen the hat emptied two or three times, and was overjoyed.
"Good collection, I'm sure," said Mrs. F. "Oh, no," was the reply, "poor collection; just a few coppers and a lot of tin pieces which some boys put in." The truth at once dawned upon Mrs. Fletcher. She had noticed her boys the day before fashioning the tin disks. "I am afraid," said she, "my boys did this. There they are, and talk to them."
The preacher laid down his knife and fork and in a kindly way remonstrated with the boys for their conduct, but John Fletcher was, as usual, equal to the emergency. "Oh, pshaw," said he, "those pieces will pass among the heathen as well as any other." The missionary was so much amused at the answer that he laughed heartily. Mrs. Fletcher joined in the laugh, and this let the boys down easily.
In 1883 the Zorra boys abroad held a grand re-union in Embro. There were present professional men from all over the Dominion, and some from the United States. Many good stories were told and many thrilling experiences related. But I here venture the statement that had Hon. J. R. Sutherland, editor of the Burt County Herald, Nebraska, been there, the story of his life would have been at least equal in interest to anything heard on that occasion. It reads like a romance.
I see him as, in August, 1865, he bids good-bye to father and mother, home and friends, and with grip in hand, and a few dollars in his pocket, strikes out for the wild West. He has heard of the demand for engineers and mechanics in that part of the world, and having taken a course in mechanical drawing in the Woodstock Grammar School, under the late Principal Strauchan, sets his face for Omaha. At that time Nebraska had few white settlers; Indians predominated everywhere, and a military escort was necessary for the safety of the engineers. Buffalo, elk, antelope and deer abounded; it was, indeed, a hunter's paradise.
Mr. Sutherland has witnessed many blood-curdling scenes of riots, mobs, hanging by vigilant committees, etc. During the construction of the Union Pacific Railway, the crowds congregated along the works were perhaps as wild and lawless as any ever assembled on this continent. But Mr. Sutherland's Zorra training was his safeguard. He was God-fearing, temperate, cautious, and attended to his own business. He says: "I never saw the place yet where, if a man would behave himself and abstain from drink, he would not get along all right, and even be thought more of by those who engaged in revelry. From my own experience, courteous conduct and a civil tongue are the best weapons a man ever carried."
Senator Sutherland's success has been of the highest kind. While by energy, temperance and perseverance he has amassed a very comfortable fortune, he has also done what is far better—built up a Christian character that is respected and admired far and wide in that section of the country.
In 1871 he was married at Tekamah, Neb., to Miss Mary Stuart Conger, a cousin to Conger, the United States Minister at Pekin, China. They lived for a time in a block-house, built by the Government to protect white settlers from the Indians. Miss Conger was a lady of culture and Christian training, and both she and her family were devoted Presbyterians. A Presbyterian congregation was started in Tekamah, consisting of eight members, seven of whom were Mr. Sutherland, his wife, with her father, mother and three sisters. Mrs. Sutherland was organist, Mr. Sutherland one of the trustees, and the congregation has gone on, till to-day it is the finest church organization, and has the best church building in the city.
Mr. Sutherland has been to the front in everything that went to build up and develop Church or State. For twenty years he has served as a member of the city government. For the same length of time he has been a member of the School Board, and delights to tell how he has seen the school increase from one teacher with twenty pupils to ten teachers with five hundred scholars. He is a practical and skilful agriculturist, and at the World's Fair, Chicago, won more awards for farm produce than all the rest of the State of Nebraska.
In 1888, without solicitation on his part, he was nominated as the Republican candidate for State Senator; and without any canvass was elected by over 1,000 majority. In this high position he made for himself an enviable record, in standing up for popular rights. He has occupied many positions of great responsibility, one of these being that of State Railroad Commissioner, at a salary of $2,000 per year. For some years he has been connected with newspaper work, and is at present editor of one of the leading weeklies of the West. His family consists of wife, two daughters, and one son.
Senator Sutherland is greatly interested in Zorra affairs, and makes many inquiries about the old boys. His numerous Zorra friends are proud of their representative in Nebraska, and hope he may long be spared to show the good results of his early training as a youthful member of Chalmers Church, Woodstock, and his home training on porridge and the Shorter Catechism.
Among the very few early pioneers of Zorra still living is Mervin Cody, the subject of the present sketch. In his eighty-fifth year he is hale and hearty, enjoying the perfect use of all his faculties. He writes in a strong, bold hand, and expresses his thoughts in a clear, orderly manner, and with almost classical correctness. To no person does the writer owe so much for information regarding the earlier settlers, their trials and triumphs, as to Mervin Cody, concerning whose Christian character it may safely be asserted that no man stands higher in the esteem of the people of Zorra to-day.
He was born in New York State in the year 1815. When four years of age he came with his parents to West Oxford, and at the age of nine—that is, in March, 1824—he accompanied them to West Zorra, and settled on what is now well known as the "Cody homestead." Four years after this his father died, the care of the family and farm thus devolving largely on Mervin, only twelve years of age. His mother's maiden name was Phila Staples. She was a devoted Christian woman, and bravely bore the burdens of the pioneer widow. She died in 1878, in the eighty-fourth year of her age.
The trials of those early times were neither few nor of a trifling character. There were no matches, and Mr. Cody writes: "One night the fire went out, and as we had no flint or spunk to strike a spark, I had to go nearly a mile, in a drizzling rain, through the woods to the nearest neighbor for fire, returning with a few coals between two pieces of stiff bark."
Shoes were exceedingly scarce among the first pioneers. "I well remember," says Mr. Cody, "how, in the early twenties, many of the men and also women had to go barefoot during the summer. The children nearly all did." Of himself he says: "My father couldn't get shoes for all of us children sometimes till the winter would be half over, and we never thought of wearing shoes in warm weather. The lack of shoes, however, didn't bother us very much. Often we boys would run out and chase each other in the snow just for the fun of it.
"One day a neighbor's pigs, about half a mile away, came along, and, barefooted as I was, I started after them. They ran home, and I chased them every step of the way. The snow was about a foot deep, and the day was cold, but I enjoyed the fun of chasing the pigs. I went into Mr. Dorman's to warm my feet, and Mrs. Dorman, a kind, motherly woman, hunted up a pair of socks, and insisted on my wearing them home.
"Late one fall a neighbor, Mr. William Land, went to mill barefoot, with oxen and sled, through the woods to where Ingersoll now stands, a distance of about six miles from home. He had to stay all night for his grist to be ready. In the morning there were several inches of snow on the ground. In this predicament what was a poor man to do? Help came; Charles Ingersoll, Esq., met the barefooted man, and in the kindness of his heart, gave him a pair of shoes and enabled him to return home in comfort."
This custom of going barefoot, originating perhaps in necessity, continued long after the necessity passed away. As recently as the sixties, the writer remembers seeing women going to church carrying their shoes on the arm till within a few hundred yards of the place of worship. One dear old lady, while thus saving her shoes, stubbed her great toe against a stone so that it bled profusely, but the only complaint uttered was, "Oh, what a blessing that I hadna my new shoons on."
A kind Providence, as if to compensate for the lack of other things to the early settlers, furnished them plentifully with fish. Before any dam was built across the Thames, fish (suckers and mullets) came up in the early spring in great numbers from Lake St. Clair, in all the branches of that river. During this time they afforded the settlers quite a supply of excellent food. The time of fishing was largely at night with a spear. The plan was somewhat unique. First, a torch was made of dry cedar split fine. A large handful of these splints, two or more feet long, bound together and set on fire, furnished a good supply of light. One carrying the torch would enter the water and wade up stream. The light would attract the fish. The men with spears would follow, and many suckers would be caught. Then all would go back to the fire on the bank of the stream, and have a good social chat. Thus they waited a while till more fish would come up, and then repeat the game as before, time and again, till after midnight. In deep water the net was the best method of fishing. Fishing of this kind lasted in Zorra till about the year 1840.
There were many wolves in those days; their howling was very terrifying, and farmers not infrequently suffered the loss of sheep, calves, and even cows, through them. In order to encourage their extermination, the Government allowed $6 for each scalp. I have before me as I write a pouch used in the twenties by Captain William Mackay for carrying wolf scalps. Captain Mackay was the tax-collector, and some of the farmers would pay their taxes with one or more scalps. This pouch was used by him for carrying the scalps from the farmer to the proper Government official. It is a rusty-looking relic of "ye olden time," made like a modern school-bag, and about the same size. The material is calfskin, tanned and dyed, lined with buckskin, and all waterproof.
Catching a wolf was a great sensation. "My father," writes Mr. Cody, "kept a steel trap set for the purpose of catching wolves. This time it was just inside of a back field. Going down one morning I found the trap gone, and hastened back to report. My father was away from home, but two neighbors volunteered to help secure the wolf. It was going to be rare sport, and soon all the boys in the neighborhood were assembled to see the fun. The wolf hadn't gone far. The trap had got a good hold of one of his forefeet, and the heavy clog, which was attached to the trap, soon hitched him fast, so that he was quite secure. We, of course, wished to take him alive. For this purpose we secured a sapling with two branches at the top, which we trimmed and then twisted together in the form of a loop. Having the length of the sapling for a handle, we put the loop over the wolfs head and around its neck, partially choking the savage beast. With some prepared basswood bark we bound its jaws securely together, and also fastened its four feet. Then we took a pole, and putting it between the wolf's feet and its body, shouldered it, and carried the animal home, trap and all. It was a very large wolf, standing about two and a half feet high." In a few years the wolves seemed to have all disappeared.
In 1844 Mervin Cody was married to Miss Mary Jane Vining, who for thirty-four years in a Christian manner shared with him the joys and sorrows of pioneer life in Zorra. Eleven children were born unto them, all of whom grew into manhood or womanhood, and eight of whom are still living.
Mr. Cody's religious experience has ever been clear, decided, evangelical. The Gospel is to him no abstract theory, but the bread of life upon which his soul feeds every day and hour, making him happy as the bird that sings in the tree-top. I will give his testimony in his own words, and not one of his old neighbors or acquaintances but will heartily endorse it.
He says: "When in my seventeenth year, under a deep sense of my lost condition as a sinner, I went out one evening into the fields by the fence-side, and cried for mercy, and mercy was given me. There and then I became a new creature. The peace, the joy, the love which followed made me very happy.
"Twice, however, after my conversion I was in 'Doubting Castle' as one of Giant Despair's prisoners. It happened in this way: Soon after my conversion I felt it my duty to confess Christ publicly, and I did. Almost immediately Satan began to taunt me, suggesting, 'What a fool you have made of yourself! You profess to be converted when you haven't been!' For some days I was in great distress till I renewed my consecration, and then it pleased the Lord to give me precious evidence of His love and salvation, restoring to me peace and joy.
"Some weeks after my conversion I was guilty of wilfully neglecting what I knew to be my duty, and my religious life at once began to decline. For about six or seven months I was in a backslidden condition, and deservedly very unhappy. One day, while following the plow, a sense of my wretched condition deeply impressed me. I stopped the oxen, fell on my knees behind the plow, and earnestly pled for mercy, and to be restored again to God's favor. Mercy was shown, pardon was granted, and again I could rejoice in my Saviour's love. My disobedience, which had been the cause of all my troubles, was distinctly before my mind. The neglected duty was no longer neglected, and on its discharge all my doubts were gone, and the enemy fled in confusion. Peace and joy returned to my troubled soul.
"Whatever may have been my unfaithfulness in my Christian life since then, from that day to this I have never doubted my conversion or my being one of God's children.
"In my eighty-fifth year, and in near prospect of the great solemnities of eternity, I can testify that not any good thing hath failed me of all that the Lord hath spoken."
So much has been said and written of this most famous of all the sons of Zorra, that it may be thought preposterous to attempt anything new. And yet one who has known him and his father's family intimately for half a century, who has prayed and preached, worked and worshipped, talked and travelled with him, may be pardoned if he seeks to bring out of the treasury of pleasant memories things new and old.
The character of this really wonderful man is unique, and made up of apparently contradictory qualities. So simple and yet so sublime; so meditative, yet so active; so tenacious of purpose, yet so yielding in matters of detail; so humble before his Maker, yet so fearless before his fellowmen—all this makes up a personality that Christian people in many lands have admired and even revered.
There are many interesting points of comparison between George Leslie Mackay and Charles Gordon, the hero of the Soudan. In both we see the same unfaltering faith in divine sovereignty, the same unswerving loyalty to the Word of God and to prayer, the same heroic conception of duty, the same complete consecration to the cause espoused, the same disregard for personal comforts or discomforts, and the same intimate and uplifting fellowship with the Divine. Mackay was not less a soldier than Gordon, for, though he has fought with spiritual weapons, he has been no less intrepid and heroic as a soldier of Jesus Christ.
The parentage of G. L. Mackay, like that of all Zorra boys, is of the plebeian order. He can truly say:
"My boast is not that I can trace my birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise,
The son of parents passed into the skies."
His home, though humble, was Christian, and its memories have ever been an inspiration to him. In his book, "From Far Formosa," he writes: "Many a time in those first friendless days (in Formosa), when tongues were strange and hearts were hard, and the mob howled loudest in the street; many a time among cruel savages in the mountains, when their orgies rose wildest in the night; many a time, alone in the awful silence of primeval forests, in solitudes never before disturbed by a white man's tread—many and many a time during these three and twenty years have I looked back from far Formosa, and in fancy gazed on my Zorra home, and joined in the morning or evening psalm.
"Children were taught the Bible and the Shorter Catechism in the home; and on the Sabbath, in the church, the great doctrines of grace were preached with faithfulness and power."
The pioneer Highlanders of Zorra left their children something far better than rank or wealth; they bequeathed them healthy bodies, active minds, tenacity of purpose, disregard of difficulties, and a profound reverence for things sacred.
On the school playground, which was just the public road, G. L. Mackay was always a prominent figure. None could overmatch him in a foot-race, or in a shinty game, and although it could not be said of him, as of Thomas Guthrie, that he was noted only for fun and fighting, yet, as some of his old schoolmates will remember, he sometimes showed that "the martial fires which thrilled his sires" were alive within him.
In the schoolroom he was ambitious and generally stood "dux." On one occasion, when he was unfortunately obliged to relinquish this position in favor of his brother, he begged his brother not to report the fact at home.
He writes: "Before I reached the age of ten the ever-blessed Name was sweet and sacred in my ear." About this time the famous missionary, W. C. Burns, visited Woodstock and Zorra, proclaiming the gospel of "free grace and dying love," and rousing the churches. His enthusiasm was contagious, and fired the boyish heart of G. L. Mackay, and from this time Mackay was in heart consecrated to the foreign field.
In order to acquire means to pursue his education he taught school for a few years, during part of which time he required to walk four miles each day to and from his boarding-house. He early became an adept at handling the axe, and this has served him a good purpose in his missionary work.
After this he entered Knox College, at the same time taking classes in the University. He completed his theological course in Princeton.
When about to leave home for the foreign field, his father, with the natural feeling of a parent's heart, said to him, "George, could you not get work enough at home?" "Father," was the prompt reply, "for years the words have been ringing in my ears, 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'" Nothing more was said by the father. The mother was seen trying to hide her tears. Being remonstrated with, she replied, amid sobs: "A ta an spiorad gu deimhin togarrach ach a ta an fheoil anmhunn" (The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak).
In 1871 he went forth as the missionary of the Canada Presbyterian Church, scarcely knowing whither he went, as he received no more specific instructions than to proceed to some part of China.
After varied experiences on sea and land, he in March, 1872, first saw Tamsui and the dark green hills beyond, and there came to him a calm, clear, prophetic assurance—this is the land. He was not disobedient to the heavenly voice. How he learned the language from the buffalo herd-boys, so that in five months he was able to preach a sermon; his conflicts with the literati, the bitter persecutions he endured, his hair-breadth escapes, his many trials, his purpose of evangelizing the people through native converts, his method of educating his students and his converts, the wonderful success that ultimately crowned his labors—into these we cannot here enter. They are recorded in his book.
In 1899 Formosa was ceded by China to Japan. The change of government was not without its anxieties and dangers to our missionary. Then the wide-spread disturbances and the awful massacres in China, during the present year, could not fail to affect for the worse the minds of the Chinese and Japanese in Formosa; and many were the prayers offered throughout the Christian world that our missionary and his work might be protected. These prayers were heard, and so far nothing of a really alarming character has taken place. Dr. Mackay writes: "The work is aggressive and progressive. The God of battles is with us, and we can sing,
Spiritual results cannot always be tabulated. Still, as indicating somewhat the extent of Dr. Mackay's work in Formosa, the following may be given from one of his recent reports: Total number of baptized Christians, 2,276; native pastors, 1; elders, 49; deacons, 57; chapels, 50; preachers, 42; students, 23; schools, 5; Bible-women, 27; girls, 15; boys, 120; patients treated in hospital in one year, 5,130.
This is something remarkable. Rather under than over the average height, he is straight as a needle, compactly built, with muscles of steel. His neighbors tell many stories of his wonderful muscular feats in the harvest-field, at the threshings, and at the logging-bees; but I dwell not upon these.
During his first visit home, in 1880, his friends in Oxford County felt that it would be a becoming thing for the missionary's native county to raise a sum of money sufficient to enable him to build a college in Tamsui. I was asked to take charge of the work, and to accompany him in visiting the congregations. We held one, two, and sometimes three meetings daily, travelling twenty or thirty miles each day, he speaking about one hour each time, and I following him with a brief explanation of what was proposed to be done. At that time I had at least the physical strength of an ordinary man; but towards the close of the second week of our campaign I succumbed. The missionary was, however, as fresh as when he first set out, and took my Sabbath work for me, apparently without an effort. During the whole series of meetings he never manifested any signs of weariness or fatigue.
The same power of endurance showed itself when he was engaged in long-continued mental effort. Rev. Dr. McTavish, of Deseronto, who acted as Dr. Mackay's amanuensis while preparing his book, "From Far Formosa," says: "Dr. Mackay frequently dictated to me from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. with only one hour's intermission at noon. This he continued, day after day, for several weeks." Students and public speakers can appreciate the amount of nervous energy that could endure such a strain.
During the tour through Oxford on behalf of his college, though he spoke substantially every time on the same subject, yet he rarely repeated himself; his addresses in and around the county were twenty-five in number, and were so varied that they might almost have formed a series addressed to the same audience.
But his fertility of resource manifested itself in other ways. When addressing children he spoke with the simplicity of a child; when dealing with students he was emphatically a teacher, not simply imparting information but aiming to draw out and develop their mental faculties; with inquirers he was tender and practical, seeking to find some common ground upon which they and he might stand; when speaking to large popular assemblies on the work so dear to his heart, his soul was fired, his dark eyes flashed, his countenance glowed, his whole frame seemed electrified, his voice rang out clear and true, until the audience seemed spell-bound, responding to the varied emotions of the speaker.
On the occasion of his last visit to this country, a missionary conference was held in Knox Church, Toronto. It was a gathering of more than ordinary interest, as a large number of the leading missionary workers in Canada and the United States were present. The church was packed with a highly interested audience. After Dr. Gordon of Boston and Dr. Pierson of Philadelphia had spoken, Dr. Mackay was called upon to give the closing address. It was a scene never to be forgotten. He spoke with extraordinary power, and every sentence burned deep into the hearts of the hearers, as he pled the cause of the heathen. At the close of his address Dr. Pierson rose and asked if anyone present had taken a report of Dr. Mackay's address, adding, "I will gladly give $50 for a report of it, for it is the grandest missionary appeal I have ever listened to." No reporters were present, and the address had not been written, but some persons present reproduced as well as they could, from memory, the substance of it; and it was published by Dr. Pierson, and tens of thousands of copies distributed in the United States and Canada.
And what shall I say of the missionary's prayers? None could hear them without feeling that he was brought into the presence of the Eternal. How simple his language! How humble his attitude! How strong his faith! How direct and specific his petitions!
During the tour referred to $7,000 was raised, or an average of nearly $300 at each meeting, yet Dr. Mackay himself never once asked for money; indeed, there was very little asking on the part of anyone. In his addresses he gave much information bearing on his field and work. But by far the most memorable portions of these addresses were his passionate appeals to sinners to come to Christ, and his fervent pleadings with Christians to higher consecration. His appeals were directed to the head and to the heart, rather than to the pocket; and yet, as the result showed, the pocket was reached, and in more than one place wedding rings and other valuables were put on the collection plate; and in Ayr and Harrington the subscription book received handsome contributions from those outside the church, who, because of the crowd, were not able to get inside. Moral: While it is legitimate to speak to Christians in the plainest and most direct terms about money, yet there is another way, and in Dr. Mackay's case it proved to be the better way.
Notwithstanding political disturbances the present year has been one of progress in Formosa. In a letter dated September 17th, 1900, Dr. Mackay tells of a grand meeting in Oxford College, Tamsui, when thirteen native students, who had completed their studies, and two juniors, were sent forth to preach the everlasting Gospel to their countrymen.
In the same letter he tells of a meeting in the chapel at Tsui-tug Kha, when 212 converts assembled, twenty-nine were baptized, and sixty-two observed the Lord's Supper. At this meeting a number of Christians, ranging from fifteen to twenty-seven years' standing, "exhorted the new converts, and thanked God that they had heard the Gospel, accepted it, and followed Jesus through storm and sunshine."
The hearts of thousands throughout Christendom are in Dr. Mackay's work, and many prayers go up for it. May it be blest more and more; and at last may our devoted missionary lay down his work here, only to receive from his blessed Lord the crown of him who hath turned many to righteousness.
Recent writers have observed that a very large proportion of the great scholars and leaders of thought in our day, as well as prominent business men, were born in country districts, and rose to distinction by the steady effort, self-denial and devotion which their early surroundings called forth. The career of Professor Donald Mackay, B.A., Ph.D., strikingly illustrates the fact that difficulties, which are sometimes regarded as hindrances to success, are to a strong, resolute mind only stepping-stones by which to rise to greater heights. Donald Mackay was born in West Zorra in 1859. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Angus Mackay. His father was an esteemed elder of Knox Church, Embro. His paternal grandfather, John Mackay, was known far and wide as a man of wonderful natural gifts, and possessed of singular powers of oratory.
Reared upon the farm, and familiar with the hardships pertaining to a country life in those days, young Mackay showed an early predilection for study, and was prepared for public school teaching some time before the statutory age for entering that profession.
In his school days he was a remarkably lively lad, fond of manly games and ambitious to excel in healthful sports. While attending the University, he was for three years a member of the champion football team of the Province. His amusements, however, were taken as recreation—that is, subordinate to his work, and designed to re-create or renew the energies lost in the pursuit of his higher calling. His main ambition was always to give the foremost place to his studies, and to neglect nothing that would conduce to the cultivation of his mind.
After three years of successful service as a public school teacher, he took steps to prepare himself for a university course. This he did at the Brantford Collegiate Institute, then under the principalship of James Mills, M.A. (now Dr. Mills, of the Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph), and matriculated into Toronto University with first-class honors in the year 1881.
For the next four years Mr. Mackay devoted himself with great earnestness and success to his chosen work. He proved himself a remarkably bright student, possessing originality of conception, with uncommon powers of application and concentration; and in several departments he secured the highest honors of the University. He was a thinker, a deep and independent thinker, with a strong love for mathematical and metaphysical studies, and he elected as his special honor subject, psychology, under the stimulating teaching of the late illustrious Professor Young. It is only stating a well-known, acknowledged fact, that he was Professor Young's favorite student. The admiration was mutual, for the famous professor had no more enthusiastic disciple than Donald Mackay. Under the inspiration of such a teacher it is no wonder that young Mackay became a most eager inquirer into the great problems of metaphysics, psychology and ethics, winning during successive years the scholarships in these branches of learning.
In 1885 he graduated with the highest honors. During his college career he was elected president of the literary society.
Immediately after graduation he was appointed principal of Elora High School, and in the three years he served in that position he raised the school to a foremost place among the High Schools of the Province. His memory is fondly cherished by his old pupils, over whom he had a marvellous influence, by precept and example stimulating them to what was manly, pure and noble in life. By personal and private dealing with each pupil, he encouraged the despondent, stimulated the indolent, and inspired all with lofty conceptions of duty to God and man, as well as love for study. In Elora he also taught the Bible-class of the church with great acceptance and success.
On the death of Professor Young, in 1891, Mr. Mackay was invited to occupy for the remainder of the session the position thus rendered vacant. Youthful and inexperienced as he was, he acquitted himself so well in his new and responsible position, that the students unanimously petitioned for his permanent appointment as Professor Young's successor.
Mr. Mackay strongly felt, however, his need of additional study and experience before assuming such a responsibility; and so, for the next two years, devoted himself to post-graduate work at Hanover (Mass.) and Freiburg (Germany) Universities. In the latter he studied under a number of the most famous scholars, and at the close of his work received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
But, alas! so many years of close application to study told only too manifestly upon his physical system. From Germany he returned home, loaded with honors, but with shattered nerves and a broken-down constitution. For many years his mental faculties had been run at high pressure, and now the naturally strong but human tenement showed signs of giving way under the severe and long-continued strain. In order to recuperate, he spent the next year in Colorado. But even during his leisure his ambition and thirst for knowledge would not allow him to remain idle. His vacation simply shifted the scene of his work. He contributed a number of literary and philosophical articles to leading magazines and journals in the United States, qualified himself for examination in theology, and was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of Denver. The chair of Psychology in Toronto University, having again become vacant through the removal of Professor Baldwin to another university, Dr. Mackay received the appointment. But another place awaited him. The Great Master said, "Come up higher." On his way home from Colorado he was seized with paralysis, and some months afterwards his sun set while yet his life's great work seemed only beginning.
He died February 11th, 1894, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. He was young, but he lived long. Life is measured rather by thoughts and deeds than by days and hours. Do they not sail long enough who win the harbor? Do they not contend long enough who obtain the victory? Do they not run long enough who reach the goal? And do they not live long enough on earth who win heaven, be their days never so few?
Dr. Mackay was well known to the writer as an earnest, devout Christian, humble and unostentatious, but none the less a sincere follower of his Master. He took a deep interest in the work and welfare of young people, and to them his career should be at once an inspiration and a warning—an inspiration to earnest work, a warning to guard against overwork even in a good cause.
I will here quote the words of Rev. G. Munro, M.A., Ridgetown, Ont., for many years pastor of Zorra church: "With mingled feelings of deep sorrow and joy, I stood by his bedside; sorrow, when I looked upon the shattered body of a noble and promising young man, joy at the simple faith of the scholar in the Saviour, the calm contemplation of death, and the self-forgetting inquiry for the welfare of old friends. To him at even-tide there was light. He spoke words of cheer to the sorrowing relatives and friends, and asked that the thirty-fourth psalm be read."
The Master came, and the freed spirit of Donald Mackay took its flight to where all mysteries are solved and all aspirations gratified.
The funeral was one of the largest ever seen in the district; a number of clergymen were present, and impressive services were conducted by Rev. G. C. Patterson, M.A. All Zorra bowed the head in sincere and sympathetic sorrow because Donald Mackay was dead.
Nelson Janes was born in the State of New York on January 3rd, 1819, and came with his father to Zorra when he was five years of age. For fourteen years he worked on the farm and attended school, after which he went to live with his uncle at Geneseo, N.Y., and here he spent the rest of his days.
Zorra's reputation as the nursery of honest and energetic men has suffered none in the person of Nelson Janes. Read the following which appeared in the daily paper of Geneseo at the time of Mr. Janes' death:
"From 1849 to 1855 he was clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and from 1850 to 1855 was manager of the estate of Wm. H. Spencer. In 1855 he was engaged by General James S. Wadsworth to superintend his affairs in Buffalo, which he did until 1863, when the general induced him to assume charge of the entire estate, with headquarters at Geneseo. His new duties required him not only to manage the Geneseo and Buffalo affairs of the Wadsworth estates, but also several outlying interests in the States of Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere. This position he held until January 1st, 1889, when on account of failing health he was compelled, practically, to retire from active responsibility. It was not easy, however, to lay aside the long experience of forty-nine consecutive years, which made his services of so much value.
"In 1842 he married Philena E. Baker, daughter of Timothy Baker, of Livonia, who died in April, 1874, leaving three children, who still survive. Mary A. and Laura L. lived with their father until his death, and William S. is now in a manufacturing establishment at La Porte, Ind., holding an important position. During his long residence in this place Mr. Janes has held many positions of public trust. He has been a trustee and secretary of the Cemetery Association for thirty years, and a trustee of the Union School for twenty-eight years. He was also a trustee of the village and its president for several terms, besides being its treasurer for numerous years. He was clerk of the village two terms, and in 1869 was supervisor of the town of Geneseo. After 1863 he was a director of the Geneseo Valley National Bank."
Mr. Janes was a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, and for twenty-five years a trustee. Even in his advanced age he was never absent from church or Bible-class, unless through sickness or absence from home.
He was of a bright, cheerful disposition, and had a great love for children. One who knew him well says: "He was never so happy as when furnishing some poor little boy with a new suit of clothes, or buying sleds, fire-crackers, etc., for the little ones who would otherwise have lacked this enjoyment."
He died in the eightieth year of his age, highly esteemed by all who knew him.
Isaac Burdick, father of the subject of the present sketch, was born in the State of New York, on November 29th, 1782; was married to Abigail Sage in August, 1803, and moved with his wife to West Oxford, two miles east of Ingersoll, where nine children were born to them. Here they endured great hardships. In 1814 the only grist-mill in the place was burnt by the American soldiers, and many of the horses taken away. After this the people had to take their grist to Norwich on horseback; and as horses were very scarce, many were compelled, as best they could, to pound the wheat into flour at home.
In 1821 Mr. Burdick, with his wife and family, came to Zorra. He took up four hundred acres of land, being lots 9 and 10, on the third concession, thus becoming the third settler in the township. On this farm was erected the first frame barn in Zorra, part of the framework of which can still be seen.
Isaac Burdick was a man of energy, devotion and intelligence; he was the first conveyancer, the first school-teacher, and the first class-leader in Zorra.
D. S. Burdick, our present subject, was the youngest member of the family. He was born on July 3rd, 1819, so that he was only two years of age when he came to Zorra. In 1845 he was married to Mary Ann Graves. Three children were born to them, of whom only one is now living, Mrs. A. Macaulay, of Ingersoll.
Mr. Burdick and his wife are spending the evening of life in circumstances of much comfort in Ingersoll. The writer recently spent a very pleasant hour with him, and learned many interesting facts concerning the early settlement. Although in the eighty-second year of his age, he is almost as active as a boy; and in good weather delights to ride his bicycle three or four miles every morning before breakfast. This good health he attributes to total abstinence from alcoholic liquors, plain diet, and plenty of outdoor exercise. His aged wife is equally healthy and happy. Mr. Burdick likes to remember that his family was the first in Zorra to sign the temperance pledge. This pledge was presented for signature by Mr. Geo. Clark, of Woodstock, who was working for a temperance society in Montreal. "Temperance," says Mr. Burdick, "not only helped to preserve my health, but it also greatly conduced to my present comfortable position financially in life, as it enabled me to lay aside something for the rainy day.
"My education," said Mr. Burdick, "was acquired under difficulties that the youth of to-day know nothing about. The school-house was at Cody's Corners, that is, three miles from our house. Thither I walked each morning, and took my turn, with a number of other boys, in kindling the school fire from green wood.
"My school-teachers were my father, George Harris, Mervin Cody, J. Fraser, S. Luvis and Wm. Kingston. The last named taught at Piper's Corners, and now lives in Ottawa. He was certainly my best teacher. The teacher boarded round, getting so many days' board for each scholar. The diet of those days, though plain, was good and wholesome; bread and milk, potatoes, porridge made of Indian cornmeal, pork and beans; and at some seasons of the year, venison and fish.
"The clothes were for the most part very coarse, homespun woollen. Most of the farmers kept a few sheep; that supplied the material for the clothes. By means of a pair of hand cards, a woman would convert the wool into large rolls; then the rolls were spun into thread, on a little wheel which the woman turned with her foot. The yarn thus made was taken to a weaver (usually a woman) and woven into cloth. The cloth was then fulled, by being pounded with the end of a beetle, prepared for that purpose, in a barrel containing hot soapsuds. It was then usually colored with a dye produced from butternut bark. The wearing quality of such cloth was excellent.
"Most families cut and made their own clothes, although, not infrequently, there would be the owner of a farm who possessed some knowledge of the tailoring business, and who was always willing to make coats, pants and vests for his neighbors in exchange for their work on his farm. These pioneer tailors served a useful purpose, though it is needless to say their knowledge of 'fitting' was exceedingly limited. 'I spy a fault,' said one of them; 'I have sewed the sleeve onto the pocket-hole.'"
Mr. Burdick tells how, on one occasion, his mother took two of the children with her on horseback, with a roll of homespun linen, and rode to Brantford, to exchange the linen for groceries and household necessaries.
Snakes were very plentiful; they would be found running through the grain, and round the stumps, and under the sheaves. At first they were a terror to the pioneers, but after they were found to be harmless, some at least of the terror passed away. Still, when you found a snake wriggling out of the sheaf you were binding, the sensation was by no means pleasant.
Bear-hunting and wolf-trapping in those days were popular sports, and some of them sensational enough. The presence of these ferocious beasts in the forests was the source of great alarm to the settlers, especially when any man, woman or child was lost in the woods.
In the spring of 1835 there was a memorable sensation of this kind. Miles Cody lived on lot 16, concession 7, of Zorra. One Sunday he was attending the Baptist Church on the 11th line, his wife and child being left at home. In the afternoon Mrs. Cody, taking her babe, nearly a year old, in her arms, went to see that the sheep were safe for the night, for the dismal howling of the wolves had been distinctly heard in the neighborhood. The sheep could not be found, and Mrs. Cody, concluding that they had got over the fence into the woods, went in search of them. Soon she discovered deer tracks, which she supposed were the tracks of the missing sheep, and so followed on and on, in a northerly direction; and thus farther and farther into the unbroken wilderness and marshy land. She did not discover her mistake, till the shades of night were fast falling upon her. What was she to do? She had lost her bearings; she knew not east from west, north from south. With her babe in her arms she wandered about in the dark for a while, but as is strangely the case with all persons lost in the woods, she moved in a circle, and by-and-by returned to the spot which she had recently left. She called a few times, but there was no response save the far-sounding echo of her own voice. She thought of the wildcats, the bears and the wolves that abounded in the forest, but she did not faint or become hysterical. She knew the better way.
Mr. Cody, getting home about dark, could find neither wife nor child anywhere, and concluded that they were at the nearest neighbor's, about half a mile distant. So he went over to Sandy MacKay's (Russell), but no wife or babe was there. He then went on to John MacKay's (Elder), but could find no trace of wife or child.
By this time it was getting dark, and the husband and friends were becoming greatly alarmed, and many blood-curdling tales of people devoured by wild beasts came to mind. The whole vicinity was soon notified and thoroughly aroused. The night was passed hunting for the lost ones; they shouted, they blew horns, they fired guns, but no response came. Thus the weary night was spent, but to no purpose. The wanderer had gone too far to be within reach of sound of voice, or horn, or gun. The next morning, with the first streaks of dawn, all the people of the district were on the ground, ready for a systematic search. They spread out so as to take in a wide sweep, and proceeded in a northerly direction. About noon they found the lost woman with her babe, safe, but greatly exhausted. What a happy meeting!
She told them how, the night before, she had become completely wearied with wandering, and giving up hope of any human help for the night, she began to think of the wildcats, and the bears, and the wolves, and became alarmed; how she committed herself and her babe to Him who sees in the dark as well as in the light; how her prayers were answered, for she soon discovered a hollow tree, with an opening near the ground, just large enough for her to go in with her babe, and also the little dog which had accompanied her. Here she stayed until morning. Once or twice she thought she heard the howling of the wolves, but no savage beast was allowed to come near her. The weather was not very cold, and the angel of the Lord protected His handmaid and her babe in the wilderness.
But we must not forget Mr. Burdick. It was no easy matter in those early days to secure a marriage license, and Mr. Burdick well remembers his own trying experience at this important period of his life. Having made sure of the girl, and having got the parental consent, he set out on foot for London, a distance of thirty miles, to get the license. The first question put to him by the dignified official was: "Where are your bondsmen?" Mr. Burdick had none, and knew of no one in London who would assume responsibility for him. In this despairing state of mind he was walking the streets, when he providentially met Mr. Angus Macleod, a neighbor from Zorra, who happened to be in London on business, and who readily agreed to become a bondsman. But another was required. After some difficulty a stranger was secured, who, being repeatedly assured that all was right, consented to assume the office of the other bondsman, and so the difficulty was overcome.
Marriage, with some in Zorra in those early days, was very much a matter-of-fact business. A man took to himself a wife much on the same principle as he bought a yoke of oxen—just because his circumstances imperatively demanded it. "I knew a Zorra man," says Mr. Burdick, "who decided to get married, and went to London to get the license. The name of the lady had, of course, to be inserted in the license. This the man was not prepared for. He wanted a blank form, which he could fill in afterwards, as he couldn't just then decide which of two or three neighboring girls he would have. He was told that a blank form could not be given him; and after taking some time he finally made up his mind which name he would insert."
Mr. Burdick well remembers the scenes of '37, and relates how on that occasion the volunteers marched to Woodstock, many of them for weapons having only sticks with spikes in the end of them.
"My name," says Mr. Burdick, "was the first on the petition asking the late Donald Matheson to run for member of Parliament."
Mr. Burdick is a life-long, consistent member of the Methodist Church, but his sympathies are not confined to any one church; and it is delightful to hear him speak with such warm appreciation of the Christian character and work of the late Rev. Donald Mackenzie. "After many years of separation," he said, "I one day met Mr. Mackenzie on the streets of Ingersoll. He was accompanied by two other aged clergymen, and did not at first recognize me. But I went up and spoke to him, and asked him and his friends to dinner. 'Brethren,' said Mr. Mackenzie to his companions, 'let us go with this kind friend, for Abraham once entertained three angels unawares.'"
The career of John Griffiths is closely associated with one of the most important problems of our time. The conflict to-day between labor and capital extends almost over the whole civilized world, and instead of showing any signs of subsiding, it seems to be getting more acute every year. Many, indeed, fear the chasm between the employer and employee will continue to widen until He comes who will put all wrongs right, and "Man to man the world o'er, shall brother be for a' that." In the meantime servants must be reminded that unreasonable demands, unjust dictation, violence, and defiance of law will never bring about the reign of righteousness. Masters also must be warned against injustice, harshness, oppression, and reminded that servants have their rights; that it is the duty of the master to take a kindly interest in their concerns, and to pay them not the least possible, or what some other firm pays for the same work, but the very most that the business will allow. When masters become millionaires, and their servants continue, year after year, on the brink of starvation, there is something seriously wrong. They must bear in mind, also, that their employees and those dependent upon them have spiritual as well as temporal wants. Put yourself in the servant's place, and do as you would like to be done by. This is the gospel rule.
John Griffiths had worked as a bricklayer day by day for years, and now for a long time he has been one of the leading master-builders in the United States. For the inauguration of an era of sympathy between employer and employed we must look to men like him, men of clear heads and kind hearts, who know by personal experience both the struggles of the servants and the heavy responsibilities of the master.
He was born near Braemar, in 1848, and attended the school on the 10th line, lot 11. Among his schoolmates were not a few who have since become prominent in the world, such as James Wood & Brothers, now of Chicago, G. L. Mackay, D.D., of Formosa; the late Dr. Hugh Mackay, of Woodstock; and Rev. R. P. Mackay, D.D., of Toronto. Afterwards young Griffiths attended the school on the 8th line taught by Rev. J. L. Murray, D.D., now of Kincardine.
Many were the pitched battles fought in those days. Sides were chosen, usually one concession against another, and the bullets were snowballs, which in mild or soft weather could be made very hard. To-day John Griffiths stands six feet two inches, and well proportioned. He was a powerfully-built boy, always ready for fun or fight, and few cared to tackle him. His old schoolmates still laugh as they relate how on one occasion he took hold of Sandy Bruce's young bull by the tail, and swung him into a brush heap.
In 1872 he left Zorra and went to Brantford, to work at his trade as bricklayer, which he had learned with his father. From Brantford he went to Chicago, where he worked with a firm of builders, and in a short time was promoted over older and much more experienced men to the position of foreman. His career has been an unbroken series of successes, until to-day he can point to a considerable number of the largest public buildings in half a dozen States as erected under his oversight. Among these are the Masonic Temple, Chicago, standing twenty-three stories high, and costing $3,000,000; the Rialto, facing on the Board of Trade building, costing $1,000,000; the great Northern Hotel, Chicago, twenty stories high, and costing $1,500,000; the Oriental Hotel, Dallas, Texas, costing $1,000,000; the Great Northern Depot, Chicago, costing $1,250,000; all the depots and round-houses on the Rock Island R. R., from Topeka, Kansas, to Colorado Springs, Col.
The drainage canal of Chicago, designed to convey the sewage of the city a distance of thirty miles, to the Mississippi River, is known as a work of great engineering skill. John Griffiths had a contract for a part of this immense work; his tender was $1,500,000 and he made well out of it, though every other contractor lost heavily.
The completion of this work was celebrated by a great gathering of leading public men, and many of the expert engineers of the United States. John Griffiths was selected to give the address on the engineering feats of the undertaking, a striking testimony to his skill and the part he took in the construction of the work. The total cost of this canal was over $30,000,000. He has also erected large works in St. Louis and Kansas City.
The only permanent building erected on the World's Fair grounds was the Arts Building, and this was erected by John Griffiths. There are twelve million bricks in it.
At present he is engaged in erecting a State building of immense proportions in Atlanta, Georgia.
To temperance, tact, and a strict attention to business may be ascribed the success of this Zorra boy.
His life is a living illustration of the words of a homely poet:
"Never you mind the crowd, lad,
Nor fancy your life won't tell;
The work is the work for all that,
To him that doeth it well.
"Just fancy the world a hill, lad;
Look where the millions stop;
You will find the crowd at the base, lad,
There's always room at the top.
He married a Chicago lady, and has an interesting family of two boys and three girls. His house, built at a cost of $80,000, is situated on Michigan Avenue. He gives largely to religious and benevolent purposes. He still likes to visit the scenes of boyhood days, and when he comes to Woodstock his aged mother is not the only one who is glad to see her boy.
The late Thomas Oliver was born in the parish of Kildonan, Sutherland, Scotland, in the year 1820. The family consisted of five, three sons and two daughters. Of these Thomas was the eldest, and after the good old custom was named after his father. Adam Oliver, of Woodstock, is the only member of the family still surviving.
While very young the Oliver family moved from Kildonan to the parish of Farr. Here there was no school within twelve miles, but Mr. Oliver, sen., with two other neighbors, built a school-house of turf, and hired a teacher, and in this humble abode of learning Thomas Oliver got his primary education. Old Mr. Oliver, being a shepherd, moved from place to place, until finally he settled for some years in the parish of Lairg, Sutherlandshire. By dint of close application and perseverance, Thomas by this time had picked up education enough to enable him to teach school, which he did for two years. Then in October, 1840, the whole family crossed the Atlantic, and after enduring the usual hardships and privations of emigrants in those early days, settled down on lot 20, concession 8, West Zorra. Thomas, now twenty years of age, taught for two or three years in the little log school-house, north of Braemar, on John Calder's farm.
Mr. Oliver's ambition, however, was in the direction of commercial pursuits, and having determined to relinquish the schoolroom, he entered the large dry-goods establishment of the late W. C. McLeod, Woodstock. His success as a salesman, together with the confidence inspired in his employer by strict integrity and a faithful discharge of his duties, brought their reward. He was sent on several occasions across the Atlantic to make the foreign purchases, and after several years of faithful service he secured a partnership in this prosperous business. In 1857 he opened an establishment of his own, near the corner of Dundas and Vansittart Streets, and this he conducted successfully until 1868, when it was bought by Messrs. Schell and Clarke, Mr. Oliver having determined to give up business, owing to the public responsibilities which he had in the meantime assumed. For many years he was an extensive and popular wool merchant on the market in Woodstock, when wool was selling at forty cents a pound.
Although engrossed in the duties and cares of a large business, Mr. Oliver found time to give considerable attention to public matters, for which he evinced a strong liking and a remarkable aptitude.
His first municipal office was attained in 1859, when he entered the Town Council, from which he passed as Reeve to the County Council, and then to the Warden's chair, a position which he reached in 1866. He was at intervals a member of the Public and High School Boards of the town, and in all of these positions proved himself able and efficient.
In 1857 he was married to Marilla, daughter of John Clark, East Oxford.
Mr. Oliver had not been long in Woodstock before he began to take an interest in politics, his sympathies being strongly with the Reform party, like those of so large a majority of his fellow-Scotchmen in Canada. At that time party lines were very tightly drawn, and the issues of the hour were discussed more frequently and with much greater warmth than at the present time. Nor were there, perhaps, in all Oxford at that day so many political discussions as among the groups of intelligent and decidedly pronounced politicians who were wont to gather about Eden's corner, adjacent to the Oliver store, and who sometimes held public debates in the old court house. In these Mr. Oliver was always prominent, and thereby doubtless developed some of that political ability and those aspirations which subsequently led to his candidature and election in the North Riding of Oxford.
It was in the political contest between Mr. Alexander, of Woodstock, and Mr. Cowan, of Waterloo, as candidates for the Legislative Assembly of Canada, in 1858, that Mr. Oliver appeared prominently for the first time. The contest was, to a certain extent, one between the two divisions of the then great Gore electoral district of Oxford and Waterloo; and it was perhaps on this account that Mr. Oliver warmly espoused the cause of his neighbor, Mr. Alexander, for whom, along with many other Reformers, he labored with energy and very effectively throughout the campaign. From this time forward he was generally regarded as a probable candidate for Parliament; and when a vacancy occurred in 1866, by the death of the late Hope F. Mackenzie, in the representation of the riding for the Canadian Assembly, Mr. Oliver opposed the nominee of the Reform convention, Dr. D. Clarke, of Princeton, being dissatisfied with the Association's constitution and action. He was elected by a decisive majority (as he always was at every subsequent election) to the House of Commons, when opposition was offered him. On two occasions, '67 and '72, Mr. Oliver was returned by acclamation. Throughout the whole of his parliamentary career, which was creditable to himself and satisfactory to his constituents, he remained a staunch Liberal, and his attachment to the party and the party's principles grew more pronounced with each year. In the stirring events and trying conflicts which preceded the fall of the Conservative Government in '73, Mr. Oliver took a keen and active interest; and on Mr. Mackenzie's assumption of office he extended to the new government a cordial and enthusiastic support. A man of the people himself, his sympathies and influences were naturally always accorded to such measures of legislation as were calculated to enlarge their liberties and to maintain their rights. His ability in debate, and his invariable courtesy alike to friend and opponent, secured for him always the respectful attention of the House, and few of its members, during the fourteen years which Mr. Oliver represented the riding, have been more popular. In his later political campaigns Mr. Oliver gave his services freely on behalf of his friends in many constituencies of Western Ontario. He possessed a thorough knowledge of public affairs, was a ready speaker, moderate in the expression of his views and their qualifications, and these along with his fine, manly appearance and winning presence made him a welcome and popular campaigner whereever he went.
As Mr. Oliver's pastor for some years, the author has the most pleasant remembrance of him. Kind-hearted, genial, hopeful, no minister could wish a better friend. At midnight, on Tuesday, November 9th, 1880, the end came with terrific suddenness, and I do not know that I can close this article better than with a few sentences quoted from the sermon I preached on the occasion of his funeral:
"In the words we have just read (Luke 12: 34-40) death is spoken of as a thief coming in the night—suddenly and unexpectedly. Seldom has this truth been more strikingly and mournfully illustrated than in the unforeseen, sudden and painful loss which, along with multitudes throughout the Dominion, we to-day deplore.
"We are stunned, bewildered, and we find it almost impossible to realize that he with whom we so lately associated is now with us no more. One day we saw him active, vigorous, genial and cheerful, but at midnight the cry came, and next day we beheld him cold in death. Last Sabbath evening, as I observed him listening so attentively to the truth while I was showing from Providence, and from the Word of God, the shortness and uncertainty of human life, the vanity of earthly treasures and the wisdom of laying up treasures in heaven, little did I think that my dear friend, Thomas Oliver, would within a few hours illustrate these truths.
"In presence of the honored dead before us, how vividly do we realize that health is but an empty name, life a troubled dream, and worldly position a fleeting meteor. High and low, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, all are hastening to a common goal; some go a little before and the rest are sure to follow after; John outruns Peter to the sepulchre, but Peter is not far behind him.
"We are not here to-day to praise the dead; it is not necessary. When the future historian writes the history of this country and chronicles the political events of the last thirteen years, the name of Thomas Oliver will not be forgotten. Large in his views, thoroughly sincere in his desire to advance the interests of his constituency, and the welfare of his country, honest in his convictions, and fearless in the maintenance of them, he occupied a prominent and influential position in the parliament of our Dominion. Since the sad intelligence of his death flew with lightning speed throughout the length and breadth of our land, public men on both sides of politics have vied with each other in bearing the most unqualified testimony to his many excellent qualities of head and heart. No legislator in the country stood higher in the esteem of his constituents. This has been time and again demonstrated. And although for well-nigh forty years he lived and labored in this town and county as a public man, daily coming in contact with persons of all classes and of all shades of opinion, it is safe to say that he died leaving not a personal enemy behind him, and never has the tongue of slander found anything to whisper against his private or public moral character. There are few in the county with whom he was not personally acquainted and who did not esteem him a friend.
"Diffident and retiring in his disposition, he was not in religious matters so demonstrative as some could have wished, but a good cause always found in him a sympathizing friend. His place in the house of God was seldom, if ever, vacant on the Sabbath, morning or evening, except when he was absent from home.
"He has been taken from us in the midst of his years and usefulness. This congregation where he worshipped for so many years will miss him; the whole Dominion will miss him; but most of all his own family will miss, sorely miss him. Wise, beneficent, generous as he was in public life, it was yet in the bosom of his family that the many kind, amiable qualities of his heart chiefly displayed themselves. But we must not lacerate anew hearts that are already bursting with sorrow by dwelling upon the virtues of the husband and parent. The sorrow of this desolate home to-day is too sacred for us to intrude into, further than to assure the sorrowing ones of the profound sympathy of the community at large, and to commend them to Him who is the husband of the widow and the father of the fatherless.
"Sorrowing ones, have faith in God. He doeth all things well. Clouds and darkness are round about His throne, but righteousness and truth go before His face. What He doeth thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
It may be added that Mr. Oliver left behind him a widow, a son and two daughters. The widow and the son have now joined him where parting is unknown, and only the two daughters survive. These are Mrs. Chas. Clay, of Minneapolis, and Mrs. John McCoun, of Toronto.
One of the charges not infrequently brought against Scotchmen, and especially Highlanders, is that they are not sufficiently cosmopolitan in their views and sympathies. The political history of Zorra does not bear out this charge. As a part of the County of Oxford, the district has been represented in Parliament by such distinguished men from a distance as Sir Francis Hincks, Hon. George Brown, Hon. William McDougall and Sir Oliver Mowat. But while thus appreciating and appropriating outside talent, the people of Zorra have not been remiss in recognizing talent at home. From the standpoint of business ability, it would be hard to find three men superior to the late Donald Matheson, the late Thomas Oliver, and Hon. James Sutherland, the county's three home representatives, and each of them a Zorra man.
Like most men who have come to the front in our day, James Sutherland was born and reared in the country. On the farm he developed those physical and mental qualities which have fitted him for one position of trust after another, until to-day he is an esteemed member of the Dominion Cabinet.
James Sutherland comes of good Highland Scotch stock, his father, Alexander Sutherland, having removed to this country in 1841, from Caithness-shire. He was himself born in what is known as the "Scotch Block," Ancaster, Ontario, in 1849. His mother, Allison Renton, was a daughter of John Renton, one of the pioneers of Ancaster. She died before James reached the age of three, and his father, after moving to the 10th line, East Zorra, died in 1857, before the lad was eight years of age. It is wonderful how many men of mark have lost their fathers early; not so many, however, their mothers. The loss of the father, by throwing great responsibility upon the boy, helps not infrequently to develop his manhood; but alas for the poor motherless boy.
James Sutherland received his primary education in the country school, and among his teachers was the now well-known Rev. Dr. Robertson, Superintendent of Presbyterian Missions in Manitoba and the North-West Territories. He afterwards attended the Woodstock Grammar School, at that time taught by the late George Strauchan. While attending the Woodstock school, he always walked to and from his home in the country, and on Saturdays worked for John Forrest & Co., in the store, and buying grain on the market.
When fifteen years of age he left school, and entered upon five years of service in a business establishment in Ingersoll.
In 1869, when only twenty years of age, he bought the large general store of John Forrest, in Woodstock, and set up in business for himself. Already we see in the young man more than ordinary mental activity and business energy.
In the twenty-fourth year of his age Mr. Sutherland sold his store and bought the banking and exchange business of the late John Mackay, of Woodstock. About this time, also, he purchased the Ontario Vinegar Works at Hamilton. Not long ago, when the modern method of manufacturing acetylene gas was discovered by a Woodstock scientist, Mr. T. L. Willson, Mr. Sutherland quickly recognized the possibilities involved in the discovery, and joined with Mr. Willson in the manufacture of calcium carbide, the article from which acetylene gas is now obtained. Already a factory is in operation in Merritton, Ontario, and a much larger one at the Chaudiere Falls, Ottawa. They are at present engaged in developing an immense water-power in the Province of Quebec, at the confluence of the Shipshaw River and the Saguenay, with the intention of erecting a factory for export trade.
Mr. Sutherland's business career has been characterized by energy, tact, caution and a large measure of success.
Very early in life he began to take an interest in the public affairs of his town and country. When but twenty-seven years of age he placed his foot on the lowest rung of the ladder, being elected to represent St. George's Ward in the Woodstock Town Council. Promotion came quickly, for during the three following years he was elected Reeve of the town and a member of the County Council. He next (1880) occupied the position of Mayor of the town, and in the same year was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Woodstock Grammar School, a position he has retained to the present time. He has always shown much interest in the progress of educational affairs.
Perhaps more than any other man, Mr. Sutherland has been instrumental in making Woodstock the splendid railway and business centre it is to-day. He is a charter member of the Woodstock Board of Trade, and was elected a member of the first Board of Water Commissioners of the town, and has been a member of the Trustee Board of the Woodstock Hospital since its inception. He has had the somewhat remarkable record of never having been defeated in a popular election for any public office.
But Mr. Sutherland's attentions have not been confined to municipal and educational affairs. He has given considerable thought and time to military, athletic and social matters. As a boy he joined the 22nd Battalion, Oxford Rifles, and has since held the positions of sergeant, captain, quartermaster and paymaster, the last of which he now holds with the rank of major.
A handsome trophy in the possession of Mr. Sutherland, which he values highly, is a cup won by the famous Zorra tug-of-war team, in a contest in the city of Buffalo for the championship of America, Mr. Sutherland at that time being their captain.
Mr. Sutherland is a Mason of long standing, and has been Master of Oxford Lodge and Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Ontario. He was also at one time Royal Chief of the Order of Scottish Clans of America.
Mr. Sutherland's parliamentary career dates from the year 1880, and to-day there are only seven members in the House of Commons who have sat continuously for so long a time. In that year, on the sudden death of Mr. Thomas Oliver, he was elected to represent North Oxford. Since that time he has sat in Parliament without interruption, having been returned in all six times, his majority having gradually increased from 370 in his first election to 1602 in the election of the present year. In 1891 he was chosen chief Liberal Whip, a position he held for eight years, during which time by his unfailing tact, broad sympathies and generous good nature, he won the esteem alike of political friends and opponents.
Probably no other man has been as closely identified with the internal affairs of the Liberal party during recent years. In 1893 he was Chairman of the Committee of General Arrangements at the great Liberal convention held in Ottawa, when the seed was sown from which resulted the abundant harvests of 1896 and 1900.
As Chairman of the Railway Committee, which is the largest committee of the House, Mr. Sutherland has shown a strength of purpose and an ability to grapple with large questions which place him in the front rank as a leader of men.
Thus he rose, step by step on the ladder, till on the 30th of September, 1899, he became a member of the Privy Council and of the Dominion Cabinet. His constituents seized upon this important event in his career to again testify their unbounded admiration for the talents which had won for him such distinction in the councils of the nation, and tendered him such a demonstration as has seldom been witnessed in Western Ontario.
I quote a sentence or two from one of the daily papers: "Probably never before in the history of Woodstock has the town been the scene of such a demonstration as was witnessed there last night at the reception of Hon. James Sutherland, the newly-appointed Cabinet Minister. Nearly every inhabitant of Woodstock was on the street. Poor men were there; and wealthy men; artisans jostled their employers; Conservatives were as enthusiastic as Liberals, a crowd of various social stations and of opposite political opinions, but on this occasion being united in the common desire of doing honor to the man, whose worth has been proven by long years of municipal and national labors, and has been recognized by the Government in his elevation to the Privy Councillorship."
The reception was worthy of the man. As the 7.14 train pulled into the Canadian Pacific railway station, cheers of welcome from thousands of throats rent the air. The waving motion of the sea of torches, and the shower of rockets, told the expectant crowds farther up the street that the Minister had arrived. From the station the vast procession marched to the skating rink, where enthusiastic speeches were made by leading citizens. All were proud of "the Zorra boy" who had lived among them, had labored for them, and who had by his own worth and perseverance raised himself to one of the highest positions in the gift of his country.
A recent writer, discussing Mr. Sutherland's appointment to the Cabinet, says: "Possessed of caution, keen perception, and rare executive ability, Mr. Sutherland has now won for himself an honorable place in the House. His greatest enemy has never accused him of being a self-seeker. Of a modest and retiring nature, he does not frequently speak at length in the House, but whenever he rises the members listen with attention to his utterances. The business man who quietly can go along in an unostentatious way, and achieve honor for himself and his country, by his foresight and executive ability, will make a much better Cabinet Minister than those who have no stock-in-trade but high-sounding oratory."
It has frequently been said of Canadians that they have produced no literature worthy the name, and that until they possess this, they cannot hope to take rank among the foremost nations of the world. The charge may be partially true, but it is more true that during the past half-dozen years a son of Zorra has given to the world a high type of work, peculiarly Canadian, and that could only be penned by one whose heart beat full and strong for his native land.
It is not more than six years since the pen-name of "Ralph Connor" first appeared in print. To-day one of his books is standing fifth in the list of sales in Philadelphia, and ninth in London, England, the American sale having reached the "sixty-fifth thousand." His plunge into fame has been phenomenal in the literary world. But his career has only begun.
The author, "Ralph Connor," is the man, Rev. Charles W. Gordon, B.A., pastor of St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg. Mr. Gordon is not the first of fame in his line of ancestry. His mother, herself a woman remarkable for her strength of character, lofty piety and mental power, was a cousin of Rev. Andrew Murray, the renowned leader of the Dutch Reformed South African Church, and of the late Robertson Smith, Professor of Hebrew in Cambridge College; she was a sister of the famous author of "Christie Refern's Troubles," Miss M. M. Robertson. Mrs. Gordon was the daughter of a Scotch Congregational minister, so that the subject of our sketch comes naturally by his love of divinity, through both lines of ancestry, his father, Rev. Daniel Gordon, having been pastor of Harrington Presbyterian Church, Zorra, for many years. And a wonderful man is his father. His descent on his maternal side is traceable to the celebrated Stuarts of Fincastle, and through them to Mary, Queen of Scots. When but sixteen years of age, he travelled with the great Rev. W. C. Burns, during a mighty revival, throughout Perthshire, Scotland. In 1849 he came to Canada under the auspices of the Free Church of Scotland. After three years of earnest labor as a missionary, in the Province of Quebec, he received a call to Indian Lands, Glengarry County, Ont., which he accepted. The life of Rev. Mr. Gordon and his young family during the succeeding years were full of hardships and trial, all nobly endured and splendidly overcome.
May it not be that the seed of that passion for rough nature, as well as his great love for the untutored pioneers of our civilization, which have made "Ralph Connor" famous on two continents, was sown while his home was cast among the forests of Glengarry and the hills of Harrington?
The senior Gordon is a man of great force and originality; over six feet tall, full-bearded, and full to the finger-tips with Highland fire. He is spending his latter years in London, Ont., and here he will regale his Highland friends any day with such strains as "Lochaber No More," or "Mackintosh's Lament," on a set of pipes given his father by the late Duke of Gordon.
With such a parentage it can be little wonder that Charles W. Gordon has forged to the front. He has become possessed of a noble heritage of deep intellectual and spiritual power—undoubtedly the secret of his subtle influence in reaching the hearts of his readers.
Eleven years old when he came to Zorra with his father's family, he went at once to work to earn money to pay for his education, working in the harvest field during the holidays, and doing what chores he could during winter evenings, till he was of an age to teach school. His course at Toronto University was a promising one, many honors and scholarships falling into his lap. "He sailed through his university course as on a summer's sea," says one who knows him well, "for though gifted with an alert and comprehensive mind, 'Ralph Connor' never bothered about studying."
The same deep, tender sympathy is as much with Mr. Gordon in private life as it is present in every page of his literary work. He can count his friends by the score in all parts of the Dominion, and he has enjoyed the intimate acquaintanceship of such well-known people as Lord and Lady Aberdeen, and the late Dr. Henry Drummond, whom he is singularly like in his winsome, genial disposition.
If candor, simplicity, concreteness and suggestiveness count for anything in literature, "Ralph Connor" has given us two valuable books, "Black Rock," and "The Sky Pilot." His characters are the people of the wild and free West, where men soon learn to dispense with the superfluous things of life in older lands; and true to them, he has not burdened them with tedious descriptions or abstract discussions, which often spoil an otherwise interesting book.
He has embodied in "The Sky Pilot," Christianity; and has proved in a beautiful series of descriptive scenes its power to win, help and save even the sensual and depraved, as represented by Bruce, the intellectual and scholarly young Scotchman, but at heart the coarsest of all that terrible "Company of the Noble Seven."
Then he shows us what Christianity can do for a spoiled child, like Gwen. Naturally high-spirited and masterful, she was completely ruined by indulgence; and, when the day of adversity overtakes her, her foolish friends stand helpless before the task of making her life tolerable by self-control. The Pilot, however, steps in and fills her heart, not only with patience, but makes the canyon—an unsightly chasm—Providence had ripped up through her life, to bloom with flowers of the rarest beauty and fragrance—those flowers of the Spirit, love, peace, meekness and self-control.
Gwen is equally successful with the beautiful but haughty and rebellious Lady Charlotte, who, too, had her canyon, with no flowers, nor seeds, nor soil, till she looked at life through Gwen's window.
In Robbie Muir, a penurious Christian is held up as a fitting object for the world's scorn.
The "Opening of the Swan Creek Church," and "The Pilot's Last Port," are tender chapters. The former lets us see what the Spirit of Christ can do with an unlikely man in an emergency. There is pathos, as well as grim humor, in "dear old Bill's" words: "'Taint in my line. But the Pilot says there's got to be a prayer, and I'm going to stay with the game."
The last chapter of the book, entitled "The Pilot's Last Port," leaves us with the Swan Creek people offering their tribute of tears to the memory of a good man, thus reaffirming the conviction that held the Pilot steady, that first Sunday evening in Swan Creek, when he exclaimed, "Men can't live without Him and be men."
The New York Critic said recently, in commenting upon Mr. Gordon's work: "His spiritual value as a writer of idylls cannot be overestimated, and much could be said about that spiritual touch all his own, so rare, subtle, sure. His best book has yet to be written, and those who know him well, know that he has a tremendous literary power in reserve, not power which is being occasionally withheld, but which is lying latent. He has it in him to write a book which could easily stand first in Canadian classics."
"Death loves a shining mark," said a New York paper, when announcing the death of Alexander S. Macleod, M.A., pastor of the Camp Memorial Congregational Church of that city. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Angus Macleod, 8th lot, 3rd con., West Zorra, and he died on March 25th, 1896, in the thirty-eighth year of his life.
He was a born student, and his life was characterized by great earnestness, a lofty ideal, and a willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others, and to promote the glory of his blessed Master. He received his primary education at the district school near Embro, and his theological course at the Congregational College, Montreal. The degree of B.D. was conferred upon him at Oberlin, Ohio; that of B.A. and M.A. at Columbia College, New York. He had passed his examination for the degree of Ph.D., but death intervened, calling him to a still higher honor.
In the twelfth year of his age, during the Russell and Carroll series of evangelistic services at Embro, he gave his heart to God. His new nature was too earnest to be hidden. At once he stood up for Jesus, and to this day many remember the fervid appeals of the boy, and his earnest pleadings with the unconverted to accept Christ as their personal Saviour. Some indeed there are still living, who point to the humble, simple, but effective pleadings of "little Alec Macleod" at that time, as the beginning of a happy change in their earthly career.
Through all his subsequent life this thirst of spirit for the salvation of souls seemed to increase, until his whole life and being were absorbed in consecrated service.
But while thus earnest in pastoral and pulpit work, he labored faithfully to attain, in point of scholarship, the highest eminence which his time and ability put within his reach. In this he was, as we have seen, very successful; but in the closing hours of his life his testimony to those around him was, that all worldly attainments were not to be compared with one look at his crucified Saviour, and the sweet communion of soul he enjoyed with Him.
Before his death, like John in Patmos, he was permitted to catch a glimpse of the heavenly city, and to triumph in the assurance of his Saviour's love.
The earthly remains were brought to Embro, and a service held in the Congregational church, in which several clergymen took part. At the deceased's request, Rev. Mr. Salmon preached the funeral sermon, holding up Christ, and Christ alone, as the sinner's Saviour.
There was a vast concourse of friends and acquaintances, and each one seemed to feel the sorrow and the solemnity of the occasion.
The remains were deposited in the family plot at North Embro, and on the grave was deposited the gift of the New York City Mission, which consisted of a "pillow of flowers," with the inscription "Asleep in Jesus."
I am no lover of war; with all my soul I hate it. At the same time I am not an advocate of peace at any price. There are doubtless occasions when a nation has as good a right to defend itself against invaders as the head of a family has to defend his household against midnight robbers and assassins. When Kruger and Steyn issued their insulting ultimatum, invaded British possessions, and shot down British subjects in South Africa, would it not have been criminal as well as cowardly in the mother country not to defend her people? The justice of the war appealed to British subjects everywhere, and soon the Colonies were represented by 20,000 soldiers on the field of battle. Never did Highlanders respond more promptly or cheerfully to the call of the fiery cross, than did the people of Canada, on this occasion, to the demands of British loyalty.
And Zorra was not last. In the person of Capt. John Munro Ross she gave one of her bravest and most patriotic boys to fight for Queen and country in Africa. "Jack," as he is familiarly known, is a typical Canadian boy—bright, intelligent, self-reliant, resourceful, fond of sport, and, although never posing as a saint was always true to his convictions. While quite young he was appointed Secretary of Knox Church Sabbath School, Embro, the duties of which he discharged with fidelity and efficiency. Never was his place in the family pew unnecessarily vacant, Sabbath morning or evening. He was kind-hearted, gentle, and devotedly attached to his mother. Do these qualities not lie at the very basis of true bravery? History tells us of the heroism of "Havelock's saints," and how Lord Clyde, on one occasion, asked his officers to pick out the bravest men from his small army before Delhi, to form the forlorn hope in a desperate attack. It was on a Sunday evening. The reply was: "There is a prayer-meeting going on now in the camp. If you go there you will find all the bravest men."
The following brief sketch of Capt. Ross's career will, I hope, be of interest to readers of this book: He was born in West Zorra on July 2nd, 1877. He comes of a good military family, his father being Capt. D. R. Ross, and two of his younger brothers at present holding commissions in the Oxford Rifles. He is closely related to the Gordons of military renown, of whom Capt. Gordon, of Embro, is a worthy representative. He received his early education at the Embro Public School. His teacher writes me: "He was an apt pupil, quickly grasping anything which was before the class. The mechanical part of his work was always executed in a very short time, and it required no little ingenuity on the part of his teacher to devise employment for him." From 1891 to 1895 he attended the Woodstock Collegiate Institute. Here he showed marked ability in composition, frequently writing essays for boys of his form, to whom this part of college work was a burden. For some time he was district correspondent of the Sentinel-Review, and his humorous descriptions of local matters, particularly municipal politics, attracted considerable attention. This literary talent has since been well developed, as the readers of his graphic letters from South Africa know. He was always fond of outdoor sports, and was the champion player in the Collegiate Institute hockey team.
He is a lover also of horses, and his fearlessness and presence of mind in managing a spirited team on more than one occasion saved his life. Several times he was in a runaway, when almost everything behind the horses was smashed with the exception of himself. This same good luck followed him into South Africa. Writing after the battle of Paardeberg, he says: "The bullets came pretty close together. It was my first time under fire, but I wasn't nervous, though I could not help ducking my head when something went 'ping' right past my ear. Bullets make about a dozen different sounds, and as we lay on the sand that morning we had a great opportunity to enumerate them all. I had about fifty narrow escapes; in fact, it was a close shave all day. I was behind a little knoll with a couple of my men, and we put in a bad half-hour. About three Boers evidently had us marked. We dug holes in the sand, and got head protection, but if we moved a muscle of our bodies we got a volley."
In the above quotation Capt. Ross speaks of being under fire for the first time, but a fellow-student at the Collegiate recalls an occasion when, on Halloween, Jack and a few of the boys sallied forth to celebrate the night in the customary way. A householder, who expected some such visitors, was prepared, and when the boys got well started, discharged a shotgun loaded with peas around their legs. Jack and his companions beat a more hasty retreat than we have ever heard of Canadian boys doing before the fire of the Boers.
In 1895 young Ross matriculated into Toronto University, and attended one year as an Arts student. Then for two years he engaged in the milling business with his father. His mind was, however, set on completing his university course; and with this purpose in view he studied during the session of 1898-99 in McGill College, Montreal. Unselfish and obliging, he was extremely popular with his fellow-students. The newspapers have told us how, on the occasion of his passing through Montreal as a member of the first contingent to Africa, his old fellow-students, recognizing him, shouted "Here he comes!" "Hurrah for Jack!" and forgetting all military rules, rushed forward, seized him, and carried him shoulder-high from place to place. "I hope," said he, humorously, when let down, "the Boers won't treat me as rough as that."
His military career may be thus summed up Appointed 2nd lieutenant, provisionally, No. 2 Company, 22nd Regt., Oxford Rifles, under his father, Capt. D. R. Ross, in 1896, Commanding officer, Colonel Munro. Attended Wolseley Barracks, London, and took a course of instruction under Colonel Smith; obtained his commission and was gazetted lieutenant. In 1896-97 was lieutenant of Embro Company, under his uncle, Capt. Jas. G. Ross. In 1899 he was gazetted captain, and given command of No. 2 Company, Embro. In 1899, as already intimated, he was one of the first to volunteer for active service in South Africa, and was appointed lieutenant of "B" Company, 2nd Batt., R. C. R., under Major Stuart, of London, as captain. His after history is identified with that of our Royal Canadian Regiment, whose daring and dash have won the admiration of the whole world, and done more than any other event of recent years to promote the unity of the British Empire, and to make the name Canadian known and honored everywhere.
Capt. Ross commanded "B" Company during Lord Roberts' march across the Free State, and also in the famous battle of Paardeberg, where Gen. Cronje, with his 4,000 men, was surrounded and captured. The march to Paardeberg was one of the hardest ever recorded in military annals. The boys were reduced to half-rations, while they had to travel through mud and rain without cessation. Speaking of it, Capt. Ross says: "I never put in such a night in my life. It seemed physically impossible to keep awake. Every little while I would get Marshall, of 'C' Company, to shake me until my teeth rattled. That did some good. It was very dark, and we had to stop frequently on account of the transport. As soon as 'halt' was given every man dropped in his tracks sound asleep." Speaking of Paardeberg, Capt. Ross says: "An action was on when we arrived, and as soon as we could swallow a biscuit and some hot coffee, we were pushed on." The crossing of the river by means of ropes, and in water up to the waist, and the fierce and long-continued fight afterwards, in which the Canadians bore such an honorable part, are now matters of history, which we need not here wait to relate. Paardeberg is written large in the diary of Zorra men.
Capt. Ross continues: "The Boers surrendered next morning, and we were personally thanked by Lord Roberts. I handled the first batch of prisoners, and they looked fat and comfortable. Cronje himself isn't much to see. We were the first into the laager, and our chaps got flour and rice, and all sorts of luxuries. I got an elegant Mauser carbine, and shall try to take it home with me."
On May 1st, at Thaba N'Chu, Capt. Ross was wounded. He says: "I got a bullet in the ribs and collapsed. Then I rolled behind a stone and bled for about an hour, all the time doing some tall thinking."
Riding forty miles over a rough road, stretched in the bottom of an ox-wagon, to Bloemfontein Hospital, was his next experience. After lying there for some time he was invalided to England, where, after resting a few weeks, he received permission from the doctors, and at once set off to join his regiment in Africa. However, the war virtually came to a close, and the Government ceased sending out more soldiers. Capt. Ross returned home, and his friends, who watched with pride his career in South Africa, trust he may long live to win even greater honors in cultivating the arts of peace than he and his fellow-patriots did as soldiers of the Queen.
Zorra is justly proud of the presidents, professors, clergymen, lawyers, doctors, school teachers, and successful business men she has given to the world, and she has no reason to feel ashamed of her brave soldier boy, Capt. Jack Ross.
Whatever the primary reference of the following verses, they fit in so well that I here subjoin them:
Oh! we love our British Empire,
And we flaunt her colors free,
And we bless our boy and send him
To the fighting o'er the sea.
He's no "absent-minded beggar"
With a knapsack on his back;
He's his country's Morning Glory!
He's our own Canadian Jack!
No, he does not hate the foeman,
But he loves his country well,
And will do his sacred duty
In the face of heaven and hell.
He has had a praying mother,
And he knows the golden rule,
And he carries high opinions
Of the state and church and school.
With his bullets and his Bible
He is furnished for the fight,
And the prayers from home surround him
When he lays him down at night.
Oh! the front rank in the battle!
That is where he longs to be.
He will boldly face the strongholds
Of his country's enemy.
A Zorra boy that is still fondly remembered by many old associates is Dr. A. E. Matheson, of Concordia, Kansas, U.S. He was born on lot 24, 8th line, West Zorra, in 1859. This was a distance of about eight miles from the Embro church, which along with his parents he attended. Here is his early church-going experience: "We boys, after we reached the age of seven or eight years, were required to accompany our parents to church on Sunday, walking a distance of seven or eight miles there, and the same distance returning home. Sometimes we fell behind our parents a few hundred yards, and then occasionally we were tempted to 'brak the Sawbath' by picking up beech-nuts, or berries, or worse still, chasing the woodpecker, chipmunk or red squirrel. But for this backsliding we were quickly brought to time, and reminded of our degeneracy, and 'hoo far behint our ancestors we were in thocht, an' word, an' deed.'
"Still, the long journey to and from the kirk was not such a terror to us as being required after reaching home to give the 'heids' of the sermon. This was the sword of Damocles over us, for oh! the 'heids' were sometimes as confusing as in the case of Ian Maclaren's preacher; and the sermon was vera lang, and contained much that we couldna carry hame, and muckle mair that we couldna carry oot. However, the long journey developed muscle, and the long sermon with the many 'heids' developed memory, and the whole gave us a keen sense of the fact that life was real and earnest."
Dr. Matheson received his primary education in the little school-house on the 8th line, 22nd lot. He was physically a light-weight, but wiry and vivacious, and was usually the leader in all games and combats. On one occasion, after receiving the due reward of his misdeeds, he, with two or three others, formed a plot to thrash the teacher just as the school would be dismissed that day. But, "fortunately for us," he writes, "a visitor came to the school that afternoon and spoiled our plot."
In 1875 he left Zorra and went to Goderich, where he attended school, providing himself with board and clothes by his earnings after school hours. From Goderich he went to Detroit, where he found employment with Dr. Cleland. He writes: "At night I attended the Business College, and learned telegraphy. I soon held a good position as a telegraph operator and station agent."
At this time there were good openings for young men in Kansas, and young Matheson took Horace Greeley's advice, and went west. Here he attended a veterinary college, and in due time graduated as a V.S., which honorable calling he has pursued ever since, and in which he has greatly prospered.
Decision, self-denial and self-control are the most striking features in the character of this son of Zorra. He is also endowed with a kind, sympathetic disposition which soon wins confidence. He has always been an active church worker, and in this way his acquaintances and companions were men and women who were always ready to help him in life's conflicts.
"The young man who would really succeed in life," he writes, "must seek good company, cultivate self-control, and practise self-denial; for bear in mind, success means not wealth, but character, not rank, but usefulness."
Dr. Matheson is the son of Wm. Matheson, one of the earliest of the Zorra pioneers, who, although now in the eighties, enjoys good health and delights to relate reminiscences of early days. To him I owe the following incidents, which will be read with interest by lovers of old folk-lore:
"Near Embro lived a Highlander whom we shall designate as Mack, the first part of his name. Better off than most of his countrymen, Mack brought with him from the Old Country about $200 in gold sovereigns. In those primitive times a sovereign went a long way in Zorra, and many a poor man and destitute widow received help from Mack's little bag of gold. No interest was ever charged, simply a verbal request, 'when she get the money she pay me.' Mack's debtors got to be quite numerous, and soon it got to be rumored that Mack had some uncanny way of making sovereigns. This report coming to his ears, he enjoyed it, and he made up his mind to encourage it. So one day a neighbor came for a loan. 'She no have it noo, but if she pe come after dinner she will be gettin' what she wants.'
"So after dinner Mack put a pot of water on the fire. Then bringing out his little bag of gold, he put it into the pot when he saw his neighbor coming. Taking it out of the boiling water he told his neighbor, 'She pe have it when the money get cold.'
"Nothing more was wanted to convince the neighbor that all was not right, and shocked beyond expression, he quickly rose from his chair, and left the house saying, 'It's the deevil's money, she no have it—na, na; she pe poor, but honest.'"
"On another occasion a neighbor came to Mack for a loan. The following dialogue ensued:
"Neighbor: 'Mack, I have come to borrow a little money, as one of my oxen is dead, and I must get another.'
"Mack: 'And what much she pe wantin' to porrow?'
"Neighbor: 'I would require four sovereigns.'
"Mack: 'And that much she'll pe gettin', and she'll pey it paack when she pe aaple.'
"Neighbor: 'Thank you, and now will you get me a pen and ink and a bit of paper?'
"Mack: 'For what will she pe want a pet of paaper?'
"Neighbor: 'I want to give you a note for the money.'
"Mack: 'Na, na' (putting the money back into his wallet), 'if she'll no trust her nainsel' to pay wi' oot a pet of paaper, I'll na trust her. She'll get na money from me.'
Nor did he.
Mr. Matheson has vivid recollections of the scenes of '37 in Oxford. Only one of these can I here give. He says: "On the old stage road, about three miles from Ingersoll, there lived on his farm a man by the name of Karn. He was strongly suspected of being in collusion with Mackenzie's rebels. So he was pursued by McNab's soldiers, and his house surrounded. Escape was impossible. Karn took to his bed and feigned sickness. The soldiers entered the house, and were about to remove him to Woodstock jail; but the wife was equal to the occasion. She cried, she sobbed, and loudly assured them that her husband would be dead before they reached Woodstock with him, and warned them that they would suffer the consequences. The soldiers were intimidated. A doctor was sent for. One of the neighbors went to meet the doctor, and let him into the secret. The doctor came, looked at the man, examined him closely, and ordered him not to be moved or he might die at any moment. The doctor came every day to see him, and reported him as steadily getting weaker. Some neighbors sat up all night taking care of him. There were ten men designated to guard his house, five by day and five by night. One guarded his bedroom door, two the outside door, and one at each of the two windows in the house. But he escaped. How? There was a woman in it. His wife got up every morning, put a shawl over her shoulders, and an old hood over her head; then with a pail in each hand went down the road quite a piece to where there was a spring of water. After doing this for several days, one morning the old man got up, put the shawl over his shoulders, and the hood over his head, took a pail in each hand, passed the inside and outside guards, went for water, and—well he was next heard of in the State of New York."
Old Mr. Matheson distinctly remembers the famine of '41. He says: "Flour was very scarce. I got a barrel from the States and paid $15 for it." When he opened it he found the flour had got wet and was all in one solid cake. "With the axe," he says, "we cut it up into lumps, then with a mallet we pounded it into flour again, and sour as it was, we were glad to have it. Many that spring lived on leeks, molasses, sugar and potatoes."
John S. Mackay was born July 25th, 1852, on concession 9, lot 9, East Zorra. His father and uncle are referred to on page 22 of "Pioneer Life in Zorra," as among the very first settlers of the district, and it may safely be asserted that no two men in Zorra were ever more highly respected by their neighbors.
No Zorra boy abroad is more deserving of a place in these pages than J. S. Mackay, and yet his life does not call for much speaking. It has been the quiet, even, but persistent course of an honest, industrious Christian man. Of him it may truly be said:
"Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning finds some work begun,
Each evening sees its close."
The lesson for the young man to learn from the career of J. S. Mackay is to put before himself a high purpose and then live for it. "Drift," writes one at the age of sixty, "has been the ruin of my life. For threescore years I have been on life's sea, going wherever the winds and tides took me, like a mariner without chart or compass." Many accomplish little or nothing because they never have a wise and enduring purpose in life. They aim at nothing and they hit it. Not so the subject of this brief sketch. He early learned an honorable trade, and he stuck to it, and to-day he is reaping the benefit in a comfortable home and a splendid character. His advice to young men is, "Get on the right track and stick to it. You will get there in time."
At the age of seventeen he left home to learn the millwright trade, serving four years with Robert Whitelaw, Beachville (now of Woodstock). For twenty years he worked at this trade in Canada and the United States, and helped to erect some of the finest mills in the land.
In 1889 he started in the milling business for himself in Boissevain, Man., and to-day he is sole owner of the best 150-barrel mill in Manitoba, as well as of the quarter section of land on which the mill is situated.
Mr. Mackay has great hope for the future of Manitoba, and strongly advises any young man seeking a home to come west and secure one.
To his early Christian training and persistency of purpose may be attributed his success, financial and moral.
Mrs. Mackay is a native of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and remembers well Queen Victoria's visit year after year to the ruins of old Kildrummie Castle.