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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Norman Macleod (1812–1872)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
IN the present century the Scottish Church has given to the world two sons of pre-eminent importance and influence: Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Norman Macleod. The names of these two men, simple clergymen of the simple Scottish Church, are familiar not only in Scotland and among Scotsmen all the world over, but among thousands also of English and Americans. With one only we have to do here: the famous Scottish minister and Queen’s Chaplain who became so universally known and beloved in Scotland that he was rarely if ever alluded to by his full name, but simply as “Dr. Norman”—and even, in many localities, merely as “Norman.” Norman Macleod was a notable man on account of his writings; a still more notable man on account of his preaching and influence; possibly more notable still as an ideal type of the Highlander from the Highland point of view; and above all, notable for his dominant and striking personality. It has been said, and perhaps truly, that no one has taken so strong a hold of the affections of his countrymen since Burns. Fine as are Dr. Macleod’s writings,—notably ‘The Reminiscences of a Highland Parish,’ ‘The Old Lieutenant,’ ‘The Starling,’ and ‘Wee Davie,’—we may look there in vain for adequate sources of this widespread and still sustained popularity. Fine as his literary gifts are, his supreme gift was that of an over-welling human sympathy, by which he made himself loved, from the poorest Highland crofters or the roughest Glasgow artisans to the Queen herself. This is fully brought out in the admirable Memoir written by his brother, Dr. Donald Macleod, the present editor of that well-known magazine, Good Words, which Dr. Norman began. The name of his childhood and his family, says Dr. Donald,—
        “was to all Scotland his title, as distinct as a Duke’s,—Norman Macleod; sometimes the ‘Norman’ alone was enough. He was a Scottish minister, nothing more; incapable of any elevation to rank, bound to mediocrity of means by the mere fact of his profession, never to be bishop of anywhere, dean of anywhere, lord of anything, so long as life held him, yet everybody’s fellow wherever he went: dear brother of the Glasgow workingmen in their grimy fustians; of the Ayrshire weavers in their cottages; dear friend of the sovereign on the throne. He had great eloquence, great talent, and many of the characteristics of genius; but above all, he was the most brotherly of men. It is doubtful whether his works will live an independent life after him: rather, perhaps, it may be found that their popularity depended upon him and not upon them; and his personal claims must fade, as those who knew him follow him into the Unknown.”
And indeed there could be no better summary of Norman Macleod than this at once pious and just estimate by his brother.
  1
  He came not only of one of the most famous Highland clans, but of a branch noted throughout the West of Scotland for the stalwart and ever militant sons of the church which it has contributed from generation to generation. It is to this perpetuity of vocation, as well as to the transmission of family names, that a good deal of natural confusion is due in the instance of writers bearing Highland names, and of the Macleods in particular. “They’re a’ thieves, fishermen, or ministers,” as is said in the West; and however much or little truth there may be in the first, there is a certain obvious truth in the second, and a still more obvious truth in the third. Again and again it is stated that Dr. Norman Macleod—meaning this Norman—is the author of what is now the most famous song among the Highlanders, the ‘Farewell to Fiunary’; a song which has become a Highland national lament. But this song was really written by Dr. Norman Macleod the elder; that is, the father of the Dr. Norman Macleod of whom we are now writing.  2
  Norman Macleod was born on June 3d, 1812, in Campbelltown of Argyll. After his education for the church at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, he traveled for some time in Germany as private tutor. Some years after his ordainment to an Ayrshire parish, he visited Canada on ecclesiastical business. It was not till 1851 that he was translated to the church with which his name is so closely associated; namely, the Barony Charge in Glasgow. Three years after this, in 1854, he became one of her Majesty’s Chaplains for Scotland, and Dean of the Order of the Thistle. In 1860 he undertook the editorship of Good Words; and made this magazine, partly by his own writings and still more by his catholic and wise editorship, one of the greatest successes in periodical literature. Long before his death at the comparatively early age of sixty, he had become famous as the most eloquent and influential of the Scottish ministry; indeed, so great was his repute that hundreds of loyal Scots from America and Australia came yearly to Scotland, primarily with the desire to see and hear one whom many of them looked to as the most eminent Scot of his day. It was in his shrewdness of judgment, his swift and kindly tact, his endless fund of humor, and his sweet human sympathy, that the secret of his immense influence lay. But while it is by virtue of his personal qualities that even now he survives in the memory of his countrymen, there is in his writings much that is distinctive and beautiful. Probably ‘The Reminiscences of a Highland Parish’ will long be read for their broad and fine sense of human life in all its ordinary aspects. This book, without any particular pretensions to style, is full of such kindly insight, such swift humor, and such broad sympathy, that it is unquestionably the most characteristic literary work of its author. Probably, among his few efforts in fiction, the story known as ‘The Old Lieutenant and his Son’ (unless it be ‘The Starling’) still remains the most popular. Curiously enough, although his sermons stirred all Scotland, there are few of them which in perusal at this late date have any specially moving quality, apart from their earnestness and native spiritual beauty. There is however one which stands out above the others, and is to this day familiar to thousands: the splendid sermon on ‘War and Judgment,’ which, at a crucial moment in the history of his country, Dr. Norman Macleod preached before the Queen at the little Highland church of Crathie.  3
  The three extracts which follow adequately represent Dr. Macleod. The first exemplifies his narrative style. The second depicts those West Highlands which he loved so well and helped to make others love. The third is one of those little lyrics in lowland Scottish which live to this day in the memories of the people.  4
 
 
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