Principal Cairns eBook

John Cairns (Presbyterian)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 154 pages of information about Principal Cairns.
should become the teacher of the little roadside school at Oldcambus, which John had attended as a child.  On the marriage of his eldest brother in the summer of 1845 the widowed mother came to keep house for him, and henceforth the Oldcambus schoolhouse became the family headquarters.  But that summer brought sorrow as well as change.  Another brother, James, a young man of vigorous mental powers, and originally of stalwart physique, who had been working at his trade as a tailor in Glasgow, fell into bad health, which soon showed the symptoms of rapid consumption.  He came home hoping to benefit by the change, but it became increasingly clear that he had only come home to die.  He lingered till the autumn, and passed away at Oldcambus at the end of September.  It was with this background of change and shadow that the ordination of John Cairns took place at Berwick on August 6, 1845.



Berwick is an English town on the Scottish side of the Tweed.  As all that remained to England of the Scottish conquests of Edward I., it was until the Union of the Crowns the Calais of Scotland.  It thus came to be treated as in a measure separate from England although belonging to it, and was for a long time separately mentioned in English Acts of Parliament, as it still is in English Royal Proclamations.  This status of semi-independence which it so long enjoyed has helped to give it an individuality more strongly marked than that of most English towns.

In religious matters Berwick has more affinity to Scotland than to England.  John Knox preached in the town for two years by appointment of the Privy Council of Edward VI., and in harmony with his influence its religious traditions were in succeeding generations strongly Puritan, and one of its vicars, Luke Ogle, was ejected for Nonconformity in 1662.

After the Revolution of 1688 this tendency found expression in the rise and growth of a vigorous Presbyterian Dissent; and in the early years of the eighteenth century there were two flourishing congregations in the town in communion with the Church of Scotland.  But as these soon became infected with the Moderatism which prevailed over the Border, new congregations were formed in connection with the Scottish Secession and Relief bodies, and it was of one of these—­Golden Square Secession Church—­that John Cairns became the fourth minister in 1845.

Berwick is one of the very few English towns which still retain their ancient fortifications.  The circuit of the walls, which were built in the reign of Elizabeth, with their bastions, “mounts,” and gates, is still practically complete, and is preserved with care and pride.  A few ruins of the earlier walls, which Edward I. erected, and which enclosed a much wider area than is covered by the modern town, still remain; also such vestiges of the once impregnable Castle as have not been removed to make way for the

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Principal Cairns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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