« AnteriorContinuar »
stances that are found in moss, such as sulphur, sulphuric acid, phosphorus, tannin, iron, etc. In the third Dr. Rennie is freely at home in discussing the relationship existing between peat and coal and jet. In one place he says: “Coal, wherever it has been discovered, has certainly been exposed to a degree of mechanical pressure far beyond that which has ever been applied to peat by art. Of this it would be superfluous to offer any proof. And if the best peat were subjected to the same degree of compression, it is obvious that it would become equally compact, and equally heavy, bulk for bulk, and equally inflammable as coal; and in no respect distinguished from that substance in colour, consistency, or chemical qualities.” After discussing the connection between peat and various bituminous substances, he devotes two chapters to these two difficult questions, the antiseptic qualities of peat moss, and its sterility in its natural state. The last essay of the second volume is a learned disquisition on “The Different kinds and Classifications of Peat Moss." The last volume is practical, and treats of peat as a soil, its fertilisation, its use as a manure, the cropping of moss, and its economical uses.
In Dr. Rennie's work we see the operation of a mind at once acute and capacious. Nothing escapes his observant eye. There is a marvellous fulness of detail. He seems to have consulted every authority and classified every fact. He has a familiar knowledge of curious passages of ancient history. The things he has seen and handled he describes with Darwinian minuteness and faithfulness. His work is a credit to Scottish literature, an honour to the Scottish Church, and must ever remain a monument of the author's untiring zeal, wide learning, and scientific insight and sagacity.
When his work was published his grateful countrymen loaded him with such honours as they could bestow. The University of Glasgow conferred upon him the degree of D.D. He was made a Fellow of the Agricultural Society of Edinburgh, corresponding member of the Board of Agriculture, member of the Highland Society of Scotland, member of the Natural History and Chemical Societies of Edinburgh. He became also the recipient of sundry services of silver plate.
But this was not all. His reputation extended far beyond Scotland. Sir John Sinclair brought the merits of the Scottish pastor under the notice of Alexander I., next to Peter the Great the most distinguished of all the Russian Czars ; he was the Czar whom Napoleon worsted at Austerlitz, Eylau, and Friedland; he was also the Czar who fought Napoleon at Borodino, who burned Moscow, and secured the annihilation of his army amid the snows of Russia. After the deposition of Napoleon and the restoration of the peace of Europe, Alexander devoted himself to the internal administration of his vast dominions. The improvement he wrought was greater than that accomplished by any of his predecessors from the time of Peter I. Hearing of the renown of Dr. Rennie, and eager to improve the condition of the Russian farmers and peasantry, the Czar offered him the magnificent position of Professor of Agriculture in the University of St. Petersburg. Dr. Rennie's friend, Sir John Sinclair, urged him strongly to accept of an appointment so distinguished in itself, and where unbounded resources would be placed at his disposal for realising his favourite agricultural projects. It would certainly have been a remarkable coincidence if the Czar Alexander I. had become the patron of Robert Rennie of Kilsyth, as Peter the Great had already been the patron of that distinguished traveller, John Bell of Antermony, on the borders of the parish. The offer was tempting—the more so as it gave promise of extensive gratification of long-cherished inclinations. Correctly believing he was now too old for such a marked change of work, scene, and climate, he finally declined the offer of the Russian Autocrat: The Czar appreciated the reasons which led Dr. Rennie to decline the appointment, and sent him in token of his continued favour two handsome presents. The first was a large massive gold wheel-shaped ring of about an inch in diameter. In this ring there was set a magnificent diamond. Along with the ring the Czar sent a snuff-box wrought in platinum and silver, and covered with rich workmanship.
It was well Dr. Rennie did not go to Russia. The preparation of his work had occupied his leisure for many years; and the church he had built-in which he doubtless felt an honest pride—and the honours which now fell so thickly upon him, he was only to enjoy for a few years more. After a long and successful ministry, also after having made for himself an honourable and distinguished name, in the midst of his own people, on the oth July, 1820, Dr. Rennie sell asleep, and was laid to rest with his fathers where for generations they had been buried.
York House-York BUILDINGS COMPANY-A Romantic Story
Sale of Confiscated Estates-Rise and Fall of Shares—Kilsyth Estate—State of Agriculture-Kilsyth Estate Farmed by James Stark-Bought by Campbell—Dullatur Bog--Plague of Frogs --The Young Pretender - The Company's Undertakings—Sir Walter Scott-An Aberdeen Tinsmith-Increase in Price of Land—The Company Wound Up-The Livingston and Edmonstone Families.
YORK HOUSE, in the Strand, three hundred years ago, was a gay and fashionable residence. It turned its back to the street and its face to the river. It had a square tower with a pepper-box at each corner, also a main front with four circular casements, surmounted by four more pepper-boxes. It looked with pride on its splendid garden that sloped down to the river, and watched the varied life that passed up and down its gently gliding waters. The trim-built wherries, on their way to Bankside ; the barges occupied by sleek city magnates; the great State barge, with the Queen under the canopy, paddling slowly past Whitehall Stairs—the old house saw them all. How long the house had stood gazing out on the river before the time of Elizabeth I cannot tell, but certainly it had had many tenants, both clerical and lay, before it came to be the birth-place of Francis Bacon, and one hundred and fourteen years later, in the occupancy of that company to which it gave its name,
tell, but he river befor long the he
and the object of which was the supplying the inhabitants of St. James' Fields and Piccadilly with water at reasonable rents.
The connection of this London Water Company with the parish of Kilsyth is part of a chapter as extraordinary and romantic as any in the whole volume of Scottish history. The doings of the company can be followed with the utmost minuteness, because for the hundred and fifty years of its existence it spent on an average £3000 every year in litigation, and its history is consequently to be found written with great fulness of detail in the records of the Court of Session.
After the overthrow of the Rebellion of 1715, the Government immediately took the severest measures against the rebel nobles. Those of them who were not fortunate enough to make their escape abroad, as did Lord Kilsyth, were apprehended and executed. Their estates were also immediately confiscated. Nearly an hundred of the finest estates in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland fell into the hands of the Government. Amongst these estates was, of course, the estate of Kilsyth, which at that time seems to have embraced not only nearly the whole parish, but also certain lands in the parish of Campsie. With so much land on their hands, the Government were at their wits' end what to do with it. Scotland was still far from being in a tranquil condition, and the rebel fanatics still participated very largely in the popular sympathy. The Government saw clearly, furthermore, that if they exposed the estates for sale, they would be bought back for nominal sums by the representatives of the attainted proprietors, and the power of the rebel families would remain as strong as formerly. It was the age of the South Sea Bubble, the age when the belief held good that every financial evil