Wayfarer column- The tales of bravery we should all appreciate

The more we travel through life the more we appreciate the brave actions done by so many which all contrive to provide us with interesting tales.

By bravery I do not necessarily mean bravery solely in the sense of valour but also in strength of purpose. The Reverend Hugh Smith born in Irvine in 1812 in poor circumstances was determined to better himself. In those days it was brave to try and improve yourself to a station in life better than you came from, but determination drove Hugh Smith on to be able to finance his education at Glasgow University from the sale of his book of poetry ‘Poetical Miscellany of Morals And Religeon’. It must have been some book of poems to finance his education at Glasgow University, but it did and we must admire men of such determination.

Another man who bravely faced up to ridicule was James Bruce from Larbert who travelled across un-chartered parts of Africa in the 1700’s looking for the source of the Nile. His accounts of his travels, the variety of animals he came across plus the various African tribes were ridiculed by eminent scholars and travellers alike in Britain who ‘poo poohed’ his revelations as coming from an over fanciful imagination. That is until more travellers came back from Africa to verify his claims thereby silencing his critics. It was a shame that James Bruce who bravely faced up to all the dangers in travelling in un-chartered parts of the world and also by facing up to his critics was to die by falling down the steps of his home in Larbert in 1794 at the age of 64.

Bravery can take many forms, mostly by facing up to difficult situations and following them through. John Brown a Perthshire man was born in 1722 to parents who died when he was only twelve. He had no education and in order to support himself became a shepherd. However he had a great thirst for knowledge and whilst roaming the hills looking after his sheep he taught himself Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Italian among others. He must have bewildered not only his sheepdog but also the sheep giving orders in so many languages, but where is there a better place to keep his mind active than up the hills with sheep for company. He became a schoolmaster and eventually a clergyman so his education did him well. All these people had to overcome difficulties to achieve their aim in life and must be commended for bravely facing up to things. See you next week with more tales..