English Literature Of The 19th Century:
James Matthew Barrie
Mrs. Humphry Ward
George Du Maurier
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The second of the "Kail-yard Group," as these Scotch novelists have been somewhat contemptuously called, is the Rev. John Watson, who writes under the pen-name Ian Maclaren. Though of Highland Scotch descent, he was born in 1850 in Manningtree, Essex, England, but was taken to Scotland in childhood. He was educated at Edinburgh University in the class with Robert Louis Stevenson. Watson was ordained to the ministry in the Free Church of Scotland, and became pastor at Harvestfield, in Perthshire, a village which he has described as Drumtochty. Hence he was called to be assistant pastor in Glasgow, and thence in 1880 to take charge of a Presbyterian Church in Liverpool. His sermons exhibit his culture as well as the liberality of his views and deep spirituality. In 1896 he delivered the Lyman Beecher lectures at the Theological Seminary of Yale University, which were published as "The Mind of the Master." In his profoundly pathetic story, "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush" (1894), the characters of the ambitious scholar, of his loving mother, and above all of Doctor William Maclure, strongly touched the hearts of the people. In "The Days of Auld Lang Syne" other sketches of Drumtochty were presented. In "Kate Carnegie" (1896) the theological disputes which make so much of Scotch Church history, are so treated as to impress the truly religious feeling which underlies them. Dr. Watson's combination of droll humor, with genuine religious sentiment, has given him his deserved popularity. It has frequently been urged that his characters were a trifle too good to be quite true.