A personal impression, during a time of political excitement, travels unexpectedly far. A week later Mr Hesketh was concernedly accosted in Main Street by a boy on a bicycle.
“Say, mister, how’s the dook?”
“What duke?” asked Hesketh, puzzled.
“Oh, any dook,” responded the boy, and bicycled cheerfully, away.
Christmas came and went. Dr Drummond had long accepted the innovation of a service on Christmas Day, as he agreed to the anthem while the collection was being taken up, to flowers about the pulpit, and to the habit of sitting at prayer. He was a progressive by his business instinct, in everything but theology, where perhaps his business instinct also operated the other way, in favour of the sure thing. The Christmas Day service soon became one of those “special” occasions so dear to his heart, which made a demand upon him out of the ordinary way. He rose to these on the wing of the eagle, and his congregation never lacked the lesson that could be most dramatically drawn from them. His Christmas Day discourse gathered everything into it that could emphasize the anniversary, including a vigorous attack upon the saints’ days and ceremonies of the Church of England calculated to correct the concession of the service, and pull up sharply any who thought that Presbyterianism was giving way to the spurious attractions of sentimentality or ritual. The special Easter service, with every appropriate feature of hymn and invocation, was apt to be marked by an unsparing denunciation of the pageants and practices of the Church of Rome. Balance was thus preserved, and principle relentlessly indicated.
Dr Drummond loved, as I have said, all that asked for notable comment; the poet and the tragedian in him caught at the opportunity, and revelled in it. Public events carried him far, especially if they were disastrous, but what he most profited by was the dealing of Providence with members of his own congregation. Of all the occasions that inspired him, the funeral sermon was his happiest opportunity, nor was it, in his hands, by any means unstinted eulogy. Candid was his summing-up, behind the decent veil, the accepted apology of death; he was not afraid to refer to the follies of youth or the weaknesses of age in terms as unmistakable as they were kindly.
“Grace,” he said once, of an estimable plain spinster who had passed away, “did more for her than ever nature had done.” He repeated it, too. “She was far more indebted, I say, to grace. than to nature,” and before his sharp earnestness none were seen to smile. Nor could you forget the note in his voice when the loss he deplored was that of a youth of virtue and promise, or that of a personal friend. His very text would be a blow upon the heart; the eyes filled from the beginning. People would often say that they were “sorry for the family,” sitting