Friday, June 17, 2016

RIP on Luing - Now and Then

I visited Luing last month. It was only my second time there, my first visit some 19 years ago. When I was on the island way back then I visited the grave of Alexander Campbell. Campbell's grave is one of the iconic spots in the Hebrides; and his self-written epitaph, which cover three large stones, have been described by countless authors (including myself - see book 1, chapter 8).

Alexander Campbell's Grave - 1997
I won't include all of the text of Campbell's tombstones, as they make for dreary reading. Here is one example:

I protest that none be buried after me in this grave which I have dug for myself…having adhered till death to the whole work of the second reformation in Scotland…and died in full assurance of the heavenly inheritance.

In Patrick Gillies Netherlorn, Argyllshire, and its Neighborhood (1909), there is a detailed history of Campbell’s exploits as a seceder from the established church, and as a leader of the Covenanters of Lorn. To quote Gillies:
Their ruling principle was that they alone professed the true religion, and that all not of their communion were doomed to perdition…. Persecution, notwithstanding the fact that they themselves were fighting for freedom, made them the most intolerant of sects. They became more and more exclusive; whatever position was taken up there were always some who went a step further, and denounced, excommunicated, and doomed the people they left behind. Papacy and prelacy they abhorred, but their keenest resentment was against those of their own body who preached religious toleration.

Campbell produced a lengthy dissertation: The Dying Testimony of Alexander Campbell, in which he tells his life’s story. It includes the following denunciations (in which I don’t believe he’s left anyone out):
I, as a dying man, leave my testimony against Quakers, Tabernacle folk, Haldians, Independents, Anabaptists, Antiburghers, Burghers, Chappels of Ease, Relief, Roman Catholics, Socenians, Prelacy, Armenians, Deists, Atheists, Universalists, New Jerusalemites, Unitarians, Methodists, Bareans, Glassites, and all sectarians.

Campbell's grave is a sad sight these days. As you can see in the next photo, in the 19 years since I last saw it the main tablet-stone has cracked in two and fallen away from the headstone. In addition, a large plant has grown that obscures most of the grave. I have mixed feelings about this. One would think that a resident of nearby Toberonochy would take the time to do some pruning every now and then to preserve this well known bit of Luing history. But, then again, maybe this monument to intolerance deserves to fall to pieces and be forgotten.

Alexander Campbell's Grave - 2016

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