After a good night's rest and the application of common soap to the soles of our feet, and fuller's earth to other parts of our anatomy - remedies we continued to employ, whenever necessary, on our long journey - we were served with a good breakfast, and then went out to see what Inverness looked like in the daylight. We were agreeably surprised to find it much nicer than it appeared as we entered it, tired out, the night before, and we had a pleasant walk before going to the eleven-o'clock service at the kirk.
Inverness, the "Capital of the Highlands," has a long and eventful history. St. Columba is said to have visited it as early as the year 565, and on a site fortified certainly in the eighth century stands the castle, which was, in 1039, according to Shakespeare, the scene of the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth. The town was made a Royal Burgh by David I, King of Scotland. The Lords of the Isles also appear to have been crowned here, for their coronation stone is still in existence, and has been given a name which in Gaelic signifies the "Stone of the Tubs." In former times the water supply of the town had to be obtained from the loch or the river, and the young men and maidens carrying it in tubs passed this stone on their way - or rather did not pass, for they lingered a while to rest, the stone no doubt being a convenient trysting-place. We wandered as far as the castle, from which the view of the River Ness and the Moray Firth was particularly fine.
We attended service in one of the Free Churches, and were much interested in the proceedings, which were so different from those we had been accustomed to in England, the people standing while they prayed and sitting down while they sang. The service began with the one hundredth Psalm to the good old tune known as the "Old Hundredth" and associated in our minds with that Psalm from our earliest days:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell,
Come ye before Him, and rejoice.
During the singing of this, all the people remained seated except the precentor, who stood near the pulpit. Then followed a prayer, the people all standing; and then the minister read a portion of Scripture from the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophet Ezekiel beginning at the eleventh verse: "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out."
Another hymn was followed by the Lord's Prayer; after which came the sermon, preached by the Rev. Donald Fraser, M.A., of Marylebone, London, a former minister of the church. He read the last three verses of the ninth chapter of St. John's gospel, continued reading down to the sixteenth verse of the tenth chapter, and then selected for his text the fourth, ninth, and tenth verses of that chapter, the first verse of these reading: "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."
The sermon had evidently been well thought out and was ably delivered, the subject being very appropriate to a district where sheep abound and where their habits are so well known. Everybody listened with the greatest attention. At the close there was a public baptism of a child, whose father and mother stood up before the pulpit with their backs to the congregation. The minister recited the Apostles' Creed, which was slightly different in phraseology from that used in the Church of England, and then, descending from the pulpit, proceeded to baptize the child in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The closing hymn followed, and the people stood while the minister pronounced the benediction, after which the congregation slowly separated.
During the afternoon we visited an isolated hill about a mile from the town named Tomnahurich, or the "Hill of the Fairies." Nicely wooded, it rose to an elevation of about 200 feet above the sea, and, the summit being comparatively level and clear from trees, we had a good view of Inverness and its surroundings. This hill was used as the Cemetery, and many people had been buried, both on the top and along the sides of the serpentine walk leading up to it, their remains resting there peacefully until the resurrection, "when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible." We considered it an ideal place for the burial of the dead, and quite a number of people were walking up and down the paths leading under the trees, many of them stopping on their way to view the graves where their friends had been buried.
In the evening we attended service in the cathedral, a large modern structure, with two towers, each of which required a spire forty feet high to complete the original design. Massive columns of Aberdeen granite had been erected in the interior to support the roof of polished oak, adorned with carved devices, some of which had not yet been completed. The Communion-table, or altar, made in Italy and presented to the cathedral by a wealthy layman, stood beneath a suspended crucifix, and was further adorned with a cross, two candlesticks, and two vases containing flowers. The service, of a High-Church character, was fully choral, assisted by a robed choir and a good organ. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Provost Powell, who took for his text Romans xiv. 7: "For none liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself." He gave us a clever oration, but whether extempore or otherwise we could not tell, as from where we sat we could not see the preacher. There was not a large congregation, probably owing to the fact that the people in the North are opposed to innovations, and look upon crosses and candlesticks on the Communion-table as imitations of the Roman Catholic ritual, to which the Presbyterians could never be reconciled. The people generally seemed much prejudiced against this form of service, for in the town early in the morning, before we knew this building was the cathedral, we asked a man what kind of a place of worship it was, and he replied, in a tone that implied it was a place to be avoided, that he did not know, but it was "next to th' Catholics." Our landlady spoke of it in exactly the same way.
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