Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Dominie Grier
by [?]

A grey, grey world and a grey belief,

True as iron and grey as grief;

Worse worlds there are, worse faiths, in truth,

Than the grey, grey world and the grey belief

The Grey Land.”

What want ye so late with Dominie Grier? To tell you the tale of my going on foot to the town of Edinburgh that I might preserve pure the doctrine and precept of the parish of Rowantree? Ay, to tell of it I am ready, and with right goodwill. Never a day do I sit under godly Mr. Campbell but I think on my errand, and the sore stroke that the deil and Bauldy Todd gat that day when I first won speech with the Lady Lochwinnoch.

It was langsyne in the black Moderate days, and the Socinians were great in the land. ‘Deed ay, it was weary work in these times; let me learn the bairns what I liked in the school, it was never in me to please the Presbytery. But whiles I outmarched them when they came to examine; as, indeed, to the knowledge and admiration of all the parish, I did in the matter of Effectual Calling. It was Maister Calmsough of Clauchaneasy that was putting the question, and rendering the meaning into his own sense as he went along. But he chanced upon James Todd of Todston, a well-learned boy; and, if I may say so, a favourite of mine, with whom I had been at great pains that he should grow up in the faith and wholesome discipline. Thereto I had fed him upon precious Thomas Boston of Ettrick and the works of godly Mr. Erskine, desiring with great desire that one day he might, by my learning and the blessing of Almighty God, even come to wag his head in a pulpit–a thing which, because of the sins of a hot youth, it had never been in my power, though much in my heart, to do.

But concerning the examination. Mr. Calmsough was insisting upon the general mercy of God–which, to my thinking, is at the best a dangerous doctrine, and one that a judicious preacher had best keep his thumb upon. At last he asked Jamie Todd what he thought of the matter; for he was an easy examiner, and would put a question a yard long to be answered with “Yes” and “No”–a fool way of examining, which to me was clear proof of his incapacity.

But James Todd was well learned and withstood him, so that Mr. Calmsough grew angry and roared like a bull. I could only sit quiet in my desk, for upon that day it was not within my right to open my mouth in my own school, since it was in the hands of the Presbytery. So I sat still, resting my confidence upon the Lord and the ready answers of James Todd. And I was not deceived. For though he was but a laddie, the root of the matter was in him, and not a Socinian among them could move him from my teaching concerning Justification and Election.

“Ye may explain it away as ye like, sir,” said James Todd, “but me and the Dominie and the Bible has anither way o’t!”

“Is it thus that you train your elder scholars to speak to their spiritual advisers, Dominie Grier?” asked Mr. Calmsough, turning on me.

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings,” said I meekly, for pride in James Todd was just boiling within me, and yet I would not let them see it.

I desired them to depart from the school of Rowantree, thinking that any of my first class in the Bible could have answered them even as did James Todd. I was in the fear of my life that they should light upon mine own son Tam, for he knew no more than how to bait a line and guddle trout; but nevertheless he has done wonderfully well at the pack among the ignorant English, and is, (I deny it not to him) the staff of my declining years. But Tam, though as great a dulbert as there is betwixt Saterness and the Corse o’ Slakes, sat up looking so gleg that they passed him by and continued to wrestle with James Todd, who only hung his head and looked stupid, yet had in him, for all that, a very dungeon of lear.