By Andrew Bonar
This letter was written to Mr. Maclagan, who was compiling the 'History of St.George's,' in 1874, and is included in this.
These excerpts have been taken from 'Memorials of Robert Smith Candlish,' D.D., by William Wilson, D.D. (1880)
5th March, 1874
"It was November 1836 that I came from Jedburgh (where I had been for eighteen months partly as a friend and partly as a missionary with Mr. Purves) to be missionary in St. George's parish.
So far as I can remember I was the first missionary. Rose Street and William Street (the schoolroom in each of those streets furnished a place of meeting) were the backbone of my mission district. The hostlers in those streets formed part of my charge; there was a service for them at four o'clock on Sabbath afternoon, and sometimes there might be four, sometimes twelve, sometimes twenty, or even more, who came.
Occasionally Dr. Candlish preached in the schoolrooms referred to. When about to begin my work I asked him, 'Will you tell me how I shall go about visiting here, and what meetings I should hold on week day and Sabbath?'
In his own way he replied, 'I'll tell you nothing. Find out for yourself what may be best. Your way will be opened up for you.'
And so I was entirely free to do less or more, and to take any way I pleased. He liked me to call upon him in a morning now and then (he was not so busy then) to report anything going on in the district. If I had a case of sickness that seemed to fall to his hand more than mine (e.g. some member of the congregation) I was welcome to call even on Saturday ; and sometimes he most kindly told me what his lecture was to be, and would say, 'Now, does this look fanciful?' or something to that effect."
"As to incidents, it would require a little more time than I can get, I fear, to recall anything of real interest to you.
He introduced me to my charge at Collace, preaching on 2 Cor. 5:11: 'Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.' That day, his sermon shook the self-confidence of an old lady who came to hear, and filled her with concern. In those days his love for Robert M'Cheyne was very interesting. You know how it was his anxiety for Robert M'Cheyne's health that led to the idea of the mission to the Jews, and the visit to Palestine. I have the first draft of the petition to the Assembly to undertake a mission to the Jews in Dr. Candlish's handwriting."