’Mr. Rutherford’s letter
desiring me to deny myself.’—Brodie’s
Alexander Brodie was born at Brodie in the north country in the year 1617. That was the same year that saw Samuel Rutherford matriculate in the College of Edinburgh. Of young Brodie’s early days we know nothing; for, though he has left behind him a full and faithful diary both of his personal and family life, yet, unfortunately, Brodie did not begin to keep that diary till he was well advanced in middle age. Young Brodie’s father died when his son and heir was but fourteen years old, and after taking part of the curriculum of study in King’s College, Aberdeen, the young laird married a year before he had come to his majority. His excellent wife was only spared to be with him for two years when she was taken away from him, leaving him the widowed father of one son and one daughter.
As time goes on we find the laird of Brodie a member of Parliament, a member of General Assembly, and a Lord of Session. He was one of the commissioners also, who were sent out to the Hague to carry on negotiations with Charles, and during the many troubled years that followed that mission, we find Brodie corresponding from time to time with Cromwell and his officers, and with Charles and his courtiers, both about public and private affairs. Brodie was one of the ablest men of his day in Scotland, and he should have stood in the very front rank of her statesmen and her saints; but, as it is, he falls very far short of that. We search the signatures of the National Covenant in vain for the name of Alexander Brodie, and the absence of his name from that noble roll is already an ill-omen for his future life. David Laing, in his excellent preface to Brodie’s Diary, is good enough to set down the absence of Brodie’s name from the Covenant to his youth and retired habits. I wish I could take his editor’s lenient view of Brodie’s absence from Greyfriars church on the testing day of the Covenant. It would be an immense relief to me if I could persuade myself to look at Brodie in that matter with Mr. Laing’s eyes. I have tried hard to do so, but I cannot. Far younger men than the laird of Brodie were in the Greyfriars churchyard that day, and far more modest men than he was. And I cannot shut my eyes to