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> Issue 73 > Page 68 - Laurie Stanley - Blackwell's Talk About Faith in Action: Celebrating Isabella Gordon MacKay

Page 68 - Laurie Stanley - Blackwell's Talk About Faith in Action: Celebrating Isabella Gordon MacKay

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1998/6/1 (202 reads)

she chose to spend her means on herself • as other rich people did • she might keep up a high style, have her carriage and Liv? ery servants. But instead of that, she was Boarding with a Chris? tian Lady • the widow of a Presbyterian Minister...occupy ing 2, or at most 3 rooms to give more liberally for the cause of Christ at home and abroad." When Stewart visited her again in 1847, he discovered her living with her brother, George, in "a very hum? ble, but clean and quiet part of Edinburgh." One of the great challenges for women of Isabella's rank and sta tion was combating the boredom of virtuous idleness. Middle and upper class women were, for the most part, denied access to purposeful work. The Victorian lady was expected to be ornamental rather than directly useful. Mary Somerville's eccentric aunt solved the problem of tedious leisure by setting up a telescope in the window of her Edin? burgh flat and spying on her neighbour across the street. Many other women immersed themselves in their calendar of social events, while others warded off boredom by enjoying ill-health. Still others embraced a host of social causes, turning towards the poor and other charities as a surrogate career. The early 19th century was the zenith of good works and voluntary socie? ties. Women, especially, emerged as collectors, sponsors and society organizers in their own right. Philanthropic female or? ganizations abounded in Edinburgh. These expressions of Christian duty were hardly isolated acts of feminine goodwill. Philanthropy and humanitarianism consti? tuted a "major intellectual and social force in British life." In Victorian Scotland, this broadly based phenomenon drew its strength from the evangelical movement, especially in the first half of the 19th century. This movement battled against infidel- Located in Historic St. Peter's, NS She also strived to recruit men fluent in Gaelic. It is interesting to note that Isabella, unlike many Scots of her social stratum, did not conspire to anglicize the Scots. Bras d'Or Lakes Inn The Bras d'Or Lakes Inn is an extraordinary dining and overnight experience situated on the shores of the world famous Bras d'Or lakes, directly adjacent to the the gate? way to the Bras d'Or • St. Peter's Canal OPEN YEAR 'ROUND with twenty cosy rooms, and a comfortable dining room and bar Our food is of high caliber and the service is quite friendly. The wooden log construction makes the Inn very appealing and relaxing. Bras d'Or Lakes Inn is the only full-service accommodation between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury. (902) 535-2200 or FAX 535-2784 1-800-818-5885 OR WRITE TO ST. PETERS, NS BOE 3B0 Bras d'Or Lakes inn is just down the road from Super Natural Tours ASK ABOUT THE "CRUiSE & STAY" PROGRAIVi ity and ignorance and spawned as its main offensive weapons Bible and Tract societies, the Sunday School movement, the Church Extension movement, and the Sabbath Protection movement. These causes gave many women a recognizable role and function and soaked up their surplus energies. In many ways, Isabella exemplified the spirit and sensibility of her times. However, she was not content to play a supportive sub? sidiary role, organizing soirees and fancy bazaars, churning out an endless supply of tatting, beadwork and needlepoint, while leaving the administrative work to the men. She wanted some? thing more creative, something that would provide her with greater spiritual fulfilment. She therefore claimed a larger role for herself. In this way, the Cape Breton Mission became her pet project. How exactly was Isabella's interest in Cape Breton piqued? Let me provide some background details. In April 1825, a group of clergy and laymen connected with the Church of Scotland as? sembled in Glasgow to consider the religious plight of Scottish immigrants in British North America. There was real cause for concern. Although Scotland was exporting its population, the structures of religion seldom went into exile. The Church of Scotland showed scant interest in its spiritual offspring in the colonies. The historic meeting in April 1825 resulted in the for? mation of the Glasgow Colonial Society which undertook to sponsor the emigration of Church of Scotland clergy to Canada. Isabella quickly became a zealous supporter of the Glasgow Co? lonial Society. She had been stirred by reports of North Ameri? can settlements where the Bible was a sealed book and where the kirk bell never rang. She was roused to great effort, and be? came the prime mover behind several itinerating libraries. In 1827, for example, Mrs. Mackay sent 245 volumes to Merigom- Now it's easy to recognize great taste! Members of the Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Program are committed to producing the finest local food and beverages. Our logo is your guarantee of quality! for iuTiher information, please contact: Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Phone:1-800-281-5507 Email: [email protected] and visit! 'e guarantee iee li!
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