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THE RIGHT HON. LADY ANN AGNES ERSKINE.
Persons eminently distinguished by piety and zeal, not only appear " the salt of the earth" in their day and generation, but leave a sweet savour of excellence behind them; and though dead, their example is still speaking. It is our desire particularly to record the memory of such, and to make our Publication a repository of Memoirs, which may afford, to future days, information respecting such distinguished persons, and warm the heart to the imitation of whatever is excellent, and of good report. The world, indeed, " knoweth them not, because it knew Him not;" mistakes their characters, and often treats, with contempt and abuse, those of whom it is not worthy; but their names are inscribed in that book of life which shall be opened at the great day; and the Redeemer will proclaim their glory and honour before his Father, and before his holy angels.
The recent loss of that mother in Israel, the Honourable Lady Ann Agnes Erskine, calls upon us to obtain all the authentic information in our power, of a personage eminently distinguished in her place and station; and the more so, as succeeding to a principal share in the direction of the concerns of that ever honoured and most devoted servant of Christ, Lady Huntingdon. We wish our ability were greater, to furnish more exact details from her own papers, which may, perhaps, be given at a future day. The present will be a faithful delineation, as far as it goes, of a character highly deserving to be held in remem'brance.
Genuine greatness and nobility, a heathen observed, were to be found alone in exalted virtue; and we know that those great in the sight of the Lord, are not usually to be found in high rank, or titled; not many mighty, not many noble, are called. Yet some singular exceptions are happily seen, demonstrating that the Lord hath in his hand the hearts of all men; and
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where such rare instances occur, they necessarily stand on an eminence, and engage more particular attention.
The noble ladv, who is the subject of this Memoir, was the daughter of the Earl of Buchan, by a lady of the House of Stuart, and the eldest of a numerous family; the surviving brandies of which are still the first ornaments of the Bar in England and Scotland ; and more distinguished by their talents and integrity than even by the nobility of their descent. The names of Thomas and Henry Erskine need only be mentioned to be universally known and honoured. The Earl of Buchan and the Countess of Glencairn only remain, the survivors of nine children, which once blest the House of Buchan. Such is the lot of mortality,— no greatness nor excellence can stay the departing spirit! Happy are they who are always wailing their appointed change, and ready to welcome it! Sur\iving relatives have a peculiar call to remember, what we are all so ready to confess and to forget—that to-morrow we die!
As our memorials especially embrace the faithful in Christ Jesus, it uiay be pleasing to remark, that the great grandfather of Lady Ann, was a man of distinguished piety, of Kirkhill; and a considerable sufferer in the cause of religious profession in the days of that unprincipled monarch Charles the Second; and as the names of Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine have received a stamp of especial reverence in the religious world, it may not be uninteresting to observe, that they were (as we are informed) branches of this family; and that the house in which they lived, is preserved by the present Lord Buchan, in its primitive .«tate, as a relic and memorial of them. He has distinguished himself as a man of letters. May he aspire after a higher character, as a man of God, and be a follower of those who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises!
Her early days were spent in Scotland ; and she mentioned to a lady, her acquaintance, who communicated the anecdote to the writer, the gracious dealings and drawings ofour Lord, when she was only about seven or eight years old : — Her maid was reading to her a little book of the nature of Jane way's Token for Children, and the Life of Amelia Geddie, a little girl remarkable for early piety, made a deep impression on her mind, which she for a while retained; and at times prayed with fervour and feeling; and, as she then thought, with real answers to her prayer in repeated instances, both of childish infirmity and desires. Aguittar, which she preserved to the day ol her death, and sometimes amused her, though far from a proficient, was one of the .instances she mentioned. Her" mother, Lady Buchan, was on a visit-from home at Edinburgh, and was to bring her something. Ann was..waii;ing her return; and .one day praying, she thought, Wha^s-ball I ask tp be brought me? and a guittar struck her mind, though she hud neve* learned, .nor thought of it -bafore; and;she|iayed thisjn-ight be brought her. Her mother, just coming through tin: street, thought of Ann as she passed <i music-shop, and preferring a guittar to a toy, went in and bought it. "What have I got lor you, Ann r" said she :— "A guittar." Trilling as tigs may seem, it left an abiding impression that there was a, God that heard and answered prayer.
As she grew up, her eaily impressions wore off; and, for some years, she lived like too many of her rank and sex, in fashionable follies; and in the company of those who were strangers to themselves, little affected about the eternal world into which they are going, whose frivolity and love of plea.sure left no place for matters of more solemn consideration. About this time the Earl of Buchan, for his family convenience, removed to Bath; and there commenced her acquaintance with the great and excellent Lady Huntingdon, whose life was spent in endeavouring to do good; and her efforts especially directed, at that time, to those of her own rank and station. An acquaintance formed about this time with the eider branches of the Ilawkestone family, eminent for their excellence, w hom she visited, contributed to fix the sense of -divine truths on her mind; and she became a professor of the principles of evangelical religion. A grow ing intimacy with Lady Huntingdon contributed to con firm her mind; and some .congeniality of spirit probably engaged Lady Huntingdon to invite Lady Ann to be with her as her friend and companion; and as this was equally pleasing to both, for many years of the later part of Lady Huntingdon's life, she was her constaut friend and intimate. During these years, as a helper in the truth, she walked with her aged friend in great affection, making herself useful in assisting to discharge the immensity of cares and engagements in which Lady Huntingdon was involved; and how well she approved herself, may be concluded from the disposition that good lady made of her affairs to such as she thought would most faithfully pursue the line she had so successfully drawn.
At Lady Huntingdon's decease, Lady Ann Erskine, Dr. and Mrs. Haweis, Mr. Best, Mr. Lloyd (since dead) and Dr. Ford, were appointed Trustees and Executors of her Will; constituting Mrs. Haweis the residuary legatee, who had, with Lady Ann, lived much with Lady Huntingdon; and spent a liberal fortune in aiding her manifold exertions to spread the gospel of Christ; and at her deaj.h devised all her property to Trustees for the support of the same work.
During Lady Huntingdon s lii'o, Lady Ann was only known as zealously disposed to promote the cause of truth, without appearing in any 'prominent character, not being by Providence favoured with the liberal provision which her predecessor enjoyed, and which died with her. Indeed, her zeal always Quiiuu her income; and though no person ever spent so