HIGHLAND PREACHERS AND BELIEVERS
In a fascinating book entitled “The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire”, first published in 1861, the Rev. John Kennedy of Dingwall (1819-84) describes the development of religious life in the Highlands of Scotland during the eighteenth century. Short portraits are given of notable ministers and outstanding believers in Ross-shire. He also describes the growth of that characteristic, sober piety which marked an increasing number of churches in that century.
The following are short extracts from this book.
The Preachers of Ross-shire.
As preachers, they were all remarkable. There are some who preach before their people, like actors on the stage, to display themselves and to please their audience. Not such were the self-denied preachers of Ross-shire. There are others who preach over their people. Studying for the highest, instead of doing so for the lowest in intelligence, they elaborate learned treatises, which float like mist, when delivered, over the heads of their hearers. Not such were the earnest preachers of Ross-shire. There are some who preach past their people. Directing their praise or their censure to intangible abstractions, they never take aim at the views and the conduct of the individuals before them. They step carefully aside, lest their hearers should be struck by their shafts, and aim them at phantoms beyond them. Not such were the faithful preachers of Ross-shire. There are others who preach at their people, serving out in a sermon the gossip of the week, and seemingly possessed with the idea that the transgressor can be scolded out of the ways of iniquity. Not such were the wise preachers of Ross-shire. There are some who preach towards their people. They aim well, but they are weak. Their eye is along the arrow towards the hearts of their hearers, but their arm is too feeble for sending it on to the mark. Superficial in their experience and in their knowledge, they reach not the cases of God’s people by their doctrine, and they strike with no vigour at the consciences of the ungodly. Not such were the powerful preachers of Ross-shire. There are others still, who preach along their congregation. Instead of standing with their bow in front of the ranks, these archers take them in line, and, reducing their mark to an individual, never change the direction of their aim. Not such were the discriminating preachers of Ross-shire. But there are a few who preach to the people directly and seasonably the mind of God in His Word with authority, unction, wisdom, fervour, and love. Such as these last were the eminent preachers of Ross-shire.
James Fraser (1700-1769)
In 1725, Mr James Fraser was ordained minister of Alness. He was presented by the Presbytery, and was at first acceptable to all the people; but some of the lairds organised a factious opposition to his induction, using all their influence with their retainers and tenants against him. The session and all the communicants remained steadfast in the face of all the power of the lairds, but a great number of the people who had at first signed his call were induced to oppose him as the time for ordaining him approached. When the Presbytery met to induct him, they found the doors of the church shut and guarded against them, and the solemn service was conducted in a corner of the graveyard. An appeal against the ordination was taken to the Synod, and thereafter to the Assembly, but the Presbytery’s conduct was ultimately approved of, and Mr Fraser confirmed in his charge.
His preaching, at least during a great part of his ministry, was mainly directed to the awakening and conversion of sinners, and was not so edifying and consoling to the Lord’s people as that of some others of the fathers in Ross-shire. He did preach Christ crucified, and spake comfort to the broken-hearted, but this was not the peculiarity of his preaching. But the preponderance of the other element was of god, and He greatly blessed his preaching for fulfilling the end to which it was mainly directed. Many were awakened under his ministry, but some of these went elsewhere to get healing for their wounds. Each Sabbath not a few of his people were accustomed to go to Kilmuir to hear the famous Mr Porteous. So many were at last in the habit of going, that the Kilmuir congregation began to complain of the overcrowded state of the church; and though willing to bear some inconvenience for the sake of those who could not find the Gospel at home, they had no patience for the fugitives from Ainess. His Session at last spoke to Mr Porteous about it, and begged of him to confer with Mr Fraser, “for the people who come from Ainess,” they said, “tell us that their minister preaches, almost so exclusively, the law that those who seek the bread of life must starve under his ministry, and are compelled to come hither for food and healing.” Meeting Mr Fraser soon after, at a funeral; Mr Porteous said to him. “It gives me, my dear brother, grief of heart to see some of your people in the church of Kilmuir every Sabbath. My elders tell me that those who come to us complain of your preaching almost entirely to the unconverted, and that the ‘poor in spirit’ can get no food for their souls. Now, my dear brother, if the Lord gives it to you, I pray you not to withhold their portion from the people of the Lord, which you can dispense to them as I never could.” “My dear brother,” was Mr. Eraser’s striking reply, “when my Master sent me forth to my work. He gave me a quiver full
of arrows, and He ordered me to cast these arrows at the hearts of His enemies till the quiver was empty. I have been endeavouring to do so, but the quiver is not empty yet. When the Lord sent you forth, He gave you a cruse of oil, and His orders to you were to pour the oil ON the wounds of broken-hearted sinners till the cruse was empty. Your cruse is no more empty than is my quiver. Let us both then continue to act on our respective orders, and as the blessing from on high shall rest on our labours, I will be sending my hearers with rounded hearts to Kilmuir, and you will be sending them back to Alness rejoicing in the Lord.” Quite overcome with this beautiful reply, Mr Porteous said, “Be it so, my beloved brother;” and, after a warmer embrace than they had ever exchanged before, they parted. Surely this was a rare exhibition of self-denial and brotherly love!
A cold, unfeeling, bold, unheeding, worldly woman was his wife. Never did her godly husband sit down to a comfortable meal in his own house, and often would he have fainted from sheer want of needful sustenance but for the considerate kindness of some of his parishioners. She was too insensate to try to hide her treatment of him, and well was it for him, on one account, that she was. His friends thus knew of his ill-treatment, and were moved to do what they could for his comfort. A godly acquaintance arranged with him to leave a supply of food in a certain place beside his usual walk, of which he might avail himself when starved at home. Even light and fire in his study were denied to him on the long, cold winter evenings, and as his study was his only place of refuge from the cruel scourge of his wife’s tongue and temper, there, shivering and in the dark, he used to spend his winter evening at home. Compelled to walk in order to keep himself warm, and accustomed to do so when preparing for the pulipt, he always kept his hands before him as feelers in the dark, to warn him of his approaching the wall at either side of the room. In this way he actually wore a hole through the plaster at each end of his accustomed beat, on which some eyes have looked that glistened with light from other fire than that of love at the remembrance of his cruel wife. But the godly husband had learned to thank the Lord for the discipline of this trial. Being once at a Presbytery dinner alone, amidst a group of moderates, one of them proposed, as a toast, the health of their wives, and, turning to Mr Fraser, said, as he winked at his companions, “You, of course, will cordially join in drinking to this toast.” “So I will and so I ought,” Mr Fraser said, “for mine has been a better wife to me than any one of yours has been to you.” “How so?” they all exclaimed. “She has sent me,” was the reply, “seven times a day to my knees when I would not otherwise have gone, and that is more than any of you can say of yours.” On the day on which her godly husband entered into his eternal rest, and a very few hours after his death,
some of the elders, on learning the sad tidings, hurried with stricken hearts and in tears to the manse. To their horror, they found Mrs Fraser outside feeding her poultry. Approaching her, one of them said, sobbing as he spoke, “So Mr Fraser has gone to his rest.” “Oh, yes; the poor man died this morning,” she said, as she scattered the corn among the fowls; “if you want to see the body, you may go in Â— chick, chick, chick.” Whether horror of the living or sorrow for the dead was the deepest feeling in the good men’s breasts, both must have mingled in the anguish of their hearts as they hurried to the chamber of the dead.
John Porteous (1704 – 1775)
Seven years after Mr Fraser’s induction at Alness, Mr. John Porteous was ordained minister of Kilmuir. He was born in Inverness. In his youth he received an excellent education, and became distinguished as a classical scholar. Soon after his licence, he was presented to Daviot, but the people of the parish would not receive him, and he was not one who would consent to be intruded into a charge.
At Kilmuir he was cordially received by the body of the people. At the very outset of his ministry, he got his place as a man of God over his flock, and the blessing of the Lord rested on his earliest labours among them. As a preacher, he was quite peculiar. Of all the famous preachers in the north, next to Mr. Lachlan, he was the most successful in riveting the attention of his hearers. His power of illustration was great, and he could make a safe and dexterous use of allegory. His metaphors were always apt, if not always poetical. His care was to use them as illustrations rather than as ornaments. He never tried to embellish, but he laboured to simplify his discourses.
In his pastoral intercourse with his people, he was remarkably winning and wise. Being fond of flowers, and afraid that he might forget his flock while engaged in cultivating his garden, he connected with each plant he reared the name of some godly parishoner or aquaintance. It was, to his mind, congenial employment to trace analogies between the varieties of flowers in his garden, and the varieties of character in his parish; and having succeeded in attaching each flower to its antitype, in his mind and memory, his employment in the garden never allowed him to forget that he was a watchman of souls. A broken-hearted, humble, timid Christian once found the minister in his garden when he called upon him. Bringing him beside a plant of violet, and pointing to it, “There you are,” Mr. Porteous said. “That dark uncomely thing, without flower or fruit, is truly like me,” remarked his visitor, as he looked down on it. “Yes, it is indeed like you,” rejoined the minister, as he opened up its leaves and exposed its flowers, “for it is a lowly fragrant plant, that usually
hides its beauty, and whose sweetness is most felt, when it is most closely searched and pressed.” A young man, who had been recently awakened, came to him as he was walking among his flowers. He described his feelings, and the minister listened in silence, but he had no flower to which to point the inquirer, and did not speak a word to him, till a toad was observed crawling across the path, on which they were walking. “Do you see that?” the minister asked, pointing to the toad. “I do”, the young man answered, and they passed on, and, without another word from the minister, they parted. A second and third time, there was a repetition of what occured at their first interview. But when, a fourth time, the youth’s attention was called to the crawling toad, “It would be well for me,” he said, “were I that toad without a soul that can be lost for ever.” “I can speak to you now.” his minister said. He judged his wound not to have been deep enough before, but now he entered into close and earnest conversation with him about the way of healing. There may have been thereafter a type of this young man among the flowers in the minister’s garden.
Enjoying much of the Lord’s presence in preaching, and a rich blessing resting on his labours, it was no wonder that he should have to bear many a rude assault of “the wicked one.” He could be no stranger to Satan’s devices; for having so many of the Lord’s children to feed, it was needful that he should, as their pastor, be passed through their trials, besides, as a Christian, experiencing his own. Speaking to a pious woman once of some temptation by which he was greatly afflicted, she said, “Be patient under the Lord’s training; the temptations of His people must be given sevenfold to the minister, if he is to be a minister indeed.”
His personal appearance was striking. Unusually tall, erect in his figure, light in his step, and scrupulously exact in his dress, he was very unlike the picture a Southern would be disposed to draw of the Highland country minister a century ago. He never married, and, unburdened with the cares of this life, it might truly of him have been said: “He careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” He quietly fell asleep in Jesus, in the attitude of prayer, alone with the Lord, on the seventh day of January, 1775, in the eighty-forth year of his age. His ministry in Kilmuir extended over forty-three years.
The following notes of Mr. Porteous’ preaching were often given, with great effect, in Gaelic, by Dr. Macdonald. The reader must find out for himself the lessons of the allegories. It is imposssible to translate them without blunting their point; but even in starched English they may give an idea of how Mr. Porteous succeeded in arresting the attention of his hearers, in getting access to their understanding, and in fixing the truth in their memory:Â—
“A traveller, while passing through a desert, was overtaken by a storm. So violent was the tempest, that he at last despaired of surviving it. Just as hope died within him, his eye was caught by a light that glimmered in the distance, and he hastened his steps to reach it. Arriving at the place where it shone, he sees an open house, entering which, he finds himself in an apartment, with a fire on the hearth, and a seat placed beside it. He sat down, and, making himself as comfortable as possible, he felt happy at his escape from the storm that was still raging without. On entering, he had seen nothing but what has already been noticed; but about midnight, happening to look round, he saw a dead body lying in a corner of the room. The corpse having began to rise, as he looked at it, the poor man became dreadfully frightened, and as the dead was rising higher and higher, he rushed to the door to escape from the house. But the storm was still so violent that he dared not go out, and no choice was left to him but to return to his place by the fire. For a time the corpse was at rest, but he could not keep his eyes off the corner where it lay; as he looked, it began to rise, and now higher than before. Again he sprung from his seat, but, instead of rushing to the door, he this time fell on his knees. As he knelt, the dead body lay back again, and he ventured once more to his seat by the hearth. He had not long been there when up again rises the corpse, and now still higher than formerly; so on his knees again he fell. Observing that only while he was kneeling the dead body lay still, he rose not again from his knees till the day had broken, and the shadows fled away.”
“A farmer in Kilmuir was once engaged in thrashing corn. Having been busy all day, there was a considerable heap on the floor at night as the result of his labour. But when he came back to his barn next morning all the thrashed corn was away. This occurred a second and a third time, till the farmer could bear it no longer. So he resolved to watch all night, as well as work all day. Having done so, he had not been long waiting when the thief appeared, and began to gather up the corn. Leaping upon him, the farmer tried to put him down, that he might either bind him, or hold him there till help arrived. But the thief proved the stronger of the two, and he had laid the farmer on his back, and had almost quite strangled him, when a friend came to his rescue. Having hold of the thief, after the farmer was on his legs again, his friend said to him, ‘What will be done to the thief?’ ‘Oh, bind him,’ was the answer, ‘and give him to me on my back, and I will set off at once with him to the prison at Tain.’ His friend did as he requested, and off set the farmer with his burden. But as he went out of sight of his friend, in a hollow of the road, the
thief, with one effort, breaking the cords the thief, with one effort, breaking the cords that bound him, fell upon the farmer, and gave him even a rougher handling than before. He would utterly have perished had not his faithful friend just come up in time again to save him. ‘What will now be done?’ his friend again asked. The answer was the same as before, only he added, ‘I will be nore careful this time.’ So again he started with his troublesome ?urden on his back, and all was quiet, till he came to a dark part of :he road, through the woods of Calrossie, when the fastenings were igain broken, and the farmer maltreated even worse than before. Once again his friend comes to his help, but now the farmer would not part with him till he accompanied him to the prison. His request was granted, the jail reached, the thief locked up, and the farmer, forgetting his friend in his delight at getting rid of his tormentor, with a light step, set out for his home. Just as he had banished all fear from his heart, and was indulging in anticipations of peace for the future, in a moment the thief, having escaped from his cell and hurried to overtake him, sprang upon him from behind, and, with even more than his former fury, threw the poor farmer to the ground, and would have now killed him outright had not the wonted help just come ‘in time of need’. Once again his friend asked, ‘What will now be done?’ The farmer, worried and wearied, cast himself at his feet, and seizing him with both his hands, cried, ‘Let the day never dawn on which thou and I shall for a moment be parted, for without thee I can do nothing.’ ”
“The eagle is said to renew its age. Old age comes on, and its end seems near, but, instead of passing out of life, it passes into youth again. It is commonly believed in the Highlands .that its decay is owing to its bill becoming so long and so bent that it cannot take up its food, and that, on that account, it pines from want of nourishment. The manner in which it is said to renew its age is by letting itself fall on a rock, by which means its bill is broken down to its proper size, its power to feed is restored, and youth begins again. That is but a legend, but this is the truth, even that thy soul’s strength, O believer, can only be renewed by thy letting thyself fall on Christ, the rock of ages.”
Whilst this extract describes conditions in Scotland in the eighteenth century it deals with a difference which is strikingly relevant today: the difference between a true, deep, heart searching godliness and a superficial, easily assured profession of Christianity.
The influence of the Gospel spread over the community. It reached the parishes in which there was no evangelical ministry, not
only in individual cases of conversion, but so as to win the esteem of the whole body of the people. This was owing to the commanding position their godliness and their gifts acquired for the pious ministers of those days, and to the unblemished lives of the Christians who were edified by their preaching. Both ministers and private Christians in those days were such that “the people magnified them.”
There are not wanting some who suspect the healthfulness of the religious spirit which was thus so extensively excited. As there are certain peculiarities which distinguish it from the type assumed by the religious feelings in the lowlands, the Southerners have been anxious to make out that the difference is owing to some defect or excess that may be charged against the North. The Ross-shire preaching, they say, was too experimental, and in the religion of those who were trained under it, there was, in consequence, a faulty excess of subjectiveness. To the radical peculiarity thus indicated, whether it be accounted a defect or an advantage, may be traced all the developments of the religious spirit in the Highlands that form its
distinctive character, as compared with the Christianity of the Lowlands.
Those who think the comparison unfavourable to the pious Highlander, regard him as prone to attach undue importance to mere “frames and feelings,” having never learned to distinguish between the foundation and the buildingÂ—the work of Christ for him, and the work of the Spirit within him. He is suspected of having a fictitious standard of experience, which he uses as a means of torture to himself, and as an unrelenting test of the Christianity of others. A Highland Christian is, therefore, in their esteem, a gloomy bigot, as compared with the more cheerful and liberal Christians of the South. To the same source they would trace the want of that activity which distinguishes Christians elsewhere. The Christian Highlander, they say, is employed in determining whether he is a true servant of Christ or not, when he should be proving that he is so by being “up and doing.” The same amount of religious principle, because of this subjective tendency, is thought to throw off a less amount of work than otherwise it would. It is to the same source the peculiar order and position of “the men” is ultimately traced. It is an excessive self-suspiciousness, say they of the South, that has originated the fellowship meeting, and there “the men” acquired their position and influence. The same peculiarity finds another development in the paucity of communicauts in the Highlands. It is affirmed that there they frighten themselves by an exaggerated standard of fitness, and are guided by their feelings rather than by the written Word. Thus all the peculiarities of the type of religion prevalent in the Highlands are traced to one source; and would be designated by those who are
unfriendly the gloominess, the bigotry, and the closetism of Highland Christians, the undue influence of “the men,” and the extreme paucity of communicants.
The gloominess of Highland Christians is unfairly taken for granted, and on the ground of the assumption, some of their Lowland brethren have been forward to denounce them. All that there is of truth in this charge is, that they were free from frivolity. They were grave, but not gloomy. They had not the light cheerfulness of unbroken hearts. They did not, like others, take it for granted that they were “the Lord’s,” they could not, like others, speak peace to themselves; but, unlike many others, they were dependent on the Lord for their hope and their joy. If some of those who denounce their gloominess were as willing as they were to dispense with all joy not the “fruit of the Spirit,” they would regard with less complacency their own state of feeling; and if they had more true godliness, and some common sense, they would refrain from casting aspersions on the memories of these men of God. As they are, they cannot sympathize with the broken-hearted who join trembling with their mirth. Always on the surface, alike of their hearts and their Bibles, they may feel that they are masters of their happiness; but it ill becomes them to cast their shafts at those to whose depths of distress, under a sense of corruption, He only can bring peace who “searcheth the deep things of God.”
It cannot be denied that the pious Highlander was wont to look within. To do so cannot always be a mistake. If the Christian looks within for the warrant of his faith, he of course greatly errs. If he looks to his own state of feeling as his rule of duty, instead of being aIways guided by the word of command from his Master, again he really errs. But would it not be an error greater still not to look within at all? Is there no prayerful watchfulness over his heart which it is his duty to practise? Ought he not to examine himself, habitually and closely, in order to ascertain the state and progress of his soul? Must he not keep an eye on his spirit while engaged in his work, lest his service should be found by the Lord to be a graceless formality? While the Christian is on earth there will be flesh as well as spirit in him; and in the flesh a love of ease, causing a constant tendency in his soul to subside into a state of stagnancy. He who resists not this tendency may present a smooth surface of hopefulness which, though but a covering over deadness and decay, may seem in favourable contrast to the disquietude of those who are deeply stirred by a sense of corruption, more aware of their own deceitfulness, more moved by the solemn realities of eternity, and therefore less forward to declare their hope. But is the stillness of the former safer or more healthful than the disquiet of the latter? Will there not be more of genuine faith mingled with the groanings of the one than is expressed in the easy assurance of the other?
The Highland Christian cannot account for the ease with which a Lowlander, of whose piety he is persuaded, can adopt the language of assurance in his addresses to God. It is such a habit that he thinks the confidence with which his brother speaks cannot always be in his heart, and if it is not there he cannot, he thinks, be right in using words which express it. And when he speaks with assurance, in the name of a mixed multitude, in public prayer, he cannot conceive how he can be speaking honestly. He could not speak thus dishonestly himself, and this is just the difference between the two. And is there not good reason for affirming that there is as great a tendency to an arid objectiveness on the one side, as to a morbid subjectiveness on the other, to an unlicensed familiarity on the one side, as to a slavish distrust on the other.
The Christians in the Highlands had been taught to distinguish between doubting the safety of their state and doubting the truth of the Word. They were accustomed to hear that one may be trusting in Christ while continuing to feel that he is a sinner, and without any evidence at all of his yet being a saint. It was not the same kind of evidence they required to satisfy them as to the trustworthiness of Christ, as they needed to assure them of being partakers of His grace. They had learned to be content with the Word as the evidence of the former, but they sought in their “life and conversation” for the evidence of the latter. They could quite understand why Christ, who so often reproved His disciples for their unbelief should yet excite them to self-jealousy when He said Â— “One of you is a devil,” and “One of you shall betray me,” and why Peter, to whom a special message of comfort had previously been sent, should thrice be asked Â— “Lovest thou me?” If some others understood this as well, the case of the Highland Christian would not be such a puzzle to them as it seems to be.
There are some who, once obtaining somehow a hope of safety, banish all fears as to their interest in Christ from their hearts. A hope of being safe is all they desire, and having this they seek not for evidence of being holy. There are some Christians, too, who are strangers to the anxieties of others of their brethren, just because they are less impressed by the reality of eternal things, and less acquainted with the deceitfulness, as well as less pained by the corruption of their hearts. These would have no sympathy with the godly Highlander who shrinks from expressing an assurance of his interest in Christ. They would attribute his fears to mistaken views and to an unhealthy state of feeling. They cannot conceive how he can be at all trusting in Christ, while at the same time not assured of his interest in Him. They seem to think that the individual’s interest in Christ, as surely as his right to appropriate Him, is matter of direct revelation. They forget that the persuasion I may trust in Christ is
one thing, the consciousness that / am trusting in Him another thing, and the assurance that / have trusted in Him yet another still. One may surely have the first without the second, and one may have the first and second without the third. The believer may be trusting in Christ, and yet not assured that he is. He may be conscious of an exercise of trust, and yet be suspecting the genuineness of his faith. This suspicion is not to be rudely put down, as if it were the working of unbelief or the fruit of temptation. It may prove to be a healthful feeling; profitable as it moves one to examine the fruits of his faith, and hurtful only when it degenerates into a slavish fear, under the power of which the soul departs from the Lord.
It would indeed be false to affirm that there were no extreme developments of the Highland peculiarity, in the case both of individuals and communities, in the north, but it would be quite as false to affirm that these were the results of the kind of preaching for which the eminent ministers of Ross-shire were distinguished. Never, since the Apostles’ day, was the foundation more wisely laid than by these preachers of the Gospel, and by none was its own place more carefully reserved for the written Word of God; but at the same time, they were careful to distinguish between “the wood, hay, and stubble,” and the “gold and precious stones” of the superstructure, and anxious to keep Christians dependent on grace, and alive to the importance of things unseen and eternal. A Christian, moulded after the fashion of their teaching, would be a man who, after a thorough work of conviction, found himself hopeless in “the horrible pit,” and helpless in “the miry clay,” and quite at the disposal of the Sovereign who “will have mercy on whom He will;” who was raised by the quickening Spirit, and established on the “Rock of Ages,” and was thenceforth learning more and more to seek his righteousness and his strength in Christ, who, with clear views of “the doctrines of the Gospel, combines an earnest desire to feel more of its power, who is kept sensible of heart-plagues, and is not allowed to be ignorant of Satan’s devices; who is anxious rather to be spiritual than to be merely busy in his generation-work; who, as he cannot take his own Christianity for granted, is not easily satisfied with the profession of others, but who, while severe in his judgment of himself, and afraid to spoil an inquirer by premature comforts, is all warmth and tenderness of heart to all in whom there is seen “some good thing toward the Lord.” There were many highlanders among the Christians of whom aught of this, and there were some Christians among the Highlanders of whom all of this, could not be affirmed;
but such was the genuine Highland Christian as reared under the ministry of the Ross-shire fathers.
There have been exhibitions in the North of a spirit of proud exclusiveness, but the staple Christianity of Ross-shire was never
smitten by it. It is not a peculiarity of any one country that its Christians find it more difficult to recognize true godliness in any other development than in that of the type to which they have been accustomed. This has often made a pious Highlander cautious in meeting the advances of a Christian from the South, who was too prone to regard his carefulness as the sternness of bigotry. This caution, and the habit of keeping his eye on the Bible standard of godliness, may have given an air of exclusiveness to his bearing towards others; but he never was one-half so severe upon them as he was always accustomed to be upon himself. He had learned in travelling over his native hills, when about to leave the beaten track, to plant his foot firmly before him, and to refrain from advancing till he had examined the ground over which he was to pass. He had too often fallen into qu