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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter XI. 'Ęschylus' and the Greek Chair 1850 - 1852


'ĘSCHYLUS,' begun in 1838, had taken twelve years to transmute into English, but only the first three and the last three of those years were specially devoted to the work. It was dedicated to Chevalier Bunsen and Professor Gerhard. The translator likened his labour to that of Medea with her "renovating kettle," "who, having cut a live body ±o pieces, engaged to produce it again reinvigorated in all its completeness."

In translating 'Faust,' he had aimed at a "recasting" rather than at a "transposing" of the original. So his aim in translating 'Ęschylus' was, in Southey's words, "faithfully to represent the matter, manner, and spirit of the original," rather than to offer "in the guise of the English language an image of Ęschylus in every minute verbal feature." He desired that his version of the great dramas should do Ęschylus justice in so far that the reader should be satisfied that their author was a man of genius, essentially Greek, imbued with lofty conceptions of the divine sovereignty of Zeus, of the immortal influence of human action, of the impossibility of escape from the barriers within which man's lot is cast,—those barriers of human relationship and divine limitation which are imposed on all. And he sought to do this through the medium of a language unsuited to express all that Greek meant when wielded by Ęschylus,—unsuited to reproduce his tremendous phrases, his marvellous combinations, but sufficiently worthy to deprive the translator of all apology for failure. In the Preface he says :-

If I have failed in these pages to bring out what is Greek and what is Ęscbylean prominently, in combination with force, grace, and clearness of English expression, it is for lack of skill in the workman, not for want of edge in the tool.

So far he surely attained, and farther; for he achieved some very beautiful renderings in rhymed verse of the more lyrical passages, whether inspired by the sentiment of wonder, of terror, of sympathy, or of grief. In "Prometheus Bound" he avoided rhyme, the grandeur of its heroic antitheses—Prometheus paying the mighty penalty of his beneficence, To doomed to suffering for reasons which her will had not conditioned - making rhyme inadequate to their proportions. But in every other play, rhyme "corresponding or analogous" to the lyric metre of schylus is used, and where it cannot follow the measure of the original, the language employed is called upon to convey its emotional character.

Of this rhyme some stanzas may be presented, taken first from one of the irregular and rugged choruses of "Agamemnon," and afterwards from a pan of vengeance chanted by "The Eumenides" :-

"Thus he
Gave his own daughter's blood, his life, his joy,
To speed a woman's war, and consecrate
His ships for Troy.

In vain with prayers, in vain she beats dull ears
With a father's name; the war-delighting chiefs
Heed not her virgin years.
Her father stood; and when the priests had prayed,
Take her, he said; in her loose robes enfolden,
Where prone and spent she lies, so lift the maid;
Even as a kid is laid,
So lay her on the altar; with dumb force
Her beauteous mouth gag, lest it breathe a voice
Of curse to Argos.

And as they led the maid, her saffron robe
Sweeping the ground, with pity-moving dart
She smote each from her eye,
Even as a picture beautiful, fain to speak,
But could not. Well that voice they knew of yore;
Oft at her father's festive board,
With gallant banqueters ringed cheerly round,
The virgin strain they heard
That did so sweetly pour
Her father's praise, whom heaven had richly crowned
With bounty brimming o'er.

The rest I know not nor will vainly pry;
But Caichas was a seer not wont to lie.
Justice doth wait to teach
Wisdom by suffering. Fate will have its way.
The quickest ear is pricked in vain to-day,
To catch to-morrow's note. What boots
To forecast woe, which, on no wavering wing,
The burdened hour shall bring."

In these strophes and antistrophes rhyme is mcidentally used, but with effect which consummates the choral form. In the grand strophe and anti- strophe from "The Eurnenides" which follow, rhyme is regular and sways the form:-

"Whoso, with no forced endeavour,
Sin-eschewing liveth,
Him to hopeless ruin never
Jove the Saviour giveth.
But whose hand with greed rapacious,
Draggeth all things for his prey,
He shall strike his flag rapacious
When the god-sent storm shall bray,
Winged with fate at last;
When the stayless sail is flapping,
When the sailyard swings and snapping,
Crashes to the blast.

He shall call, but none shall hear him,
When dark ocean surges
None with saving hand shall near him,
When his prayer he urges.
Laughs the god to see him vainly
Grasping at the crested rock;
Fool who boasted once profanely
Firm to stand in Fortune's shock;
Who so great had been,
His freighted wealth with fearful crashing,
On the rock of justice dashing, Dies unwept, unseen."

The grand antiphonal chant which closes the "Persians," in which Xerxes and the chorus of "Sons of Susa with delicate feet" lament

"So great a power, the Persian power laid low,"

might be given, were there space; it is the best example of Professor Blackie's use of rhyme as an emotional medium. It has the effect of wail upon wail,—of long-drawn sighs and protracted grief.

The most scholarly critic of the time, Mr Conington, gave his opinion in the 'Edinburgh Review' of July 1850. He rendered justice to the Professor's adherence more to the Ęschylean manner and spirit than to absolute verbal precision, and admitted his great advance upon earlier translators. He spoke of the scholarship as "remarkably good," and of the introduction and notes "as a real acquisition to our means of studying the Greek Drama," and he praised the vigour and significance of the rendering. At the same time, he took exception to the licence of explanatory comment incorporated in the text of translation, and to the coupling a choice of renderings, which he stigmatised as "hedging." The translator, he held, was bound to choose one of the two possible renderings and abide by it, except in passages where great ingenuity in his selection of words might enable him to shadow forth or suggest both meanings.

Another friend expressed his wish that the Professor would publish original rather than translated poetry—"for," said he, "you have not grammar enough to be a good translator"; on which came the comment, "No, indeed, I hate grammar, logic, rhetoric, law, and all such dry formalisms."

From the very first year of Professor Blackie's residence in Aberdeen he had assembled at his own house small parties of his most promising students for the purpose of reading and discussing the classics. At these gatherings, informal in their earlier stage, they conned and cogitated Cicero, Horace, and Virgil; but about 1848 the Professor bethought him that, having victoriously grappled with Latin, they might try conclusions with Greek. The new Society, loosely organised at first and called the "Homeric Club," was formally enrolled as "The Hellenic Society" in January 1850. Its inaugural meeting took place in Mr Forbes White's house, and initiated the habit of assembling at the homes in turn of such members as were householders. On this first occasion some ten students met the Professor, and it is interesting to record the future eminence of four of their number—Mr Donaldson, now Principal of St Andrews, Mr Geddes, Principal of Aberdeen, Mr Davidson, Professor of Hebrew in the Edinburgh Free Church College, and Mr Sachs, Free Church Professor of Hebrew in Aberdeen. These gentlemen were all students of the Humanity Class, and those surviving, as in the cases of Mr Forbes White and Mr Charles Robertson, have maintained the scholarship which they learned to appreciate in those days. They began their labours with Homer. When the Society was transplanted to Edinburgh, its numbers increased, many notable scholars becoming members, and it passed into a phase which admitted of conviviality as well as of serious study. But in the primitive days, which are still under record, the "high thinking" was supported by "plain living," and bread, cheese, and ale were the simple ancestry of the stuffed turkey and champagne to which the law of evolution conducted the original supper. Even over bread and cheese the members were wont to relax into song and story, so that the toasts and speeches of later times had their due relation to humble types.

In July Professor Blackie went to Dunoon to seek Dr East's help after these engrossing labours, and soon reported himself refreshed and ruddycheeked, and exploring Glen Massen and the Holy Loch.

A prayer which took shape on the hills one Sabbath morning expresses his relation to God and to life :-

O Thou, who not in temples made with hands
Hast made Thy dwelling,
Where the robed priest with pictured prayer-book stands
Thy praises telling;
Here in this rock-ribbed, moss-grown mountain nook,
While I implore Thee,
Hear me who pray without or priest or book
In fear before Thee.
o if from Thy deep-seated central throne
Thy radiation
Lends to life's extreme crust and utmost zone
Rich animation-
Shine, Lord, in me till my glad heart o'erbrim
With living fulness,
And drops—like lead from each quick-starting limb—
The earthly dulness!
Not more than man I ask, but as a man
Life's worth confessing,
I'd nobly use my little human span
With God's high blessing!

From Dunoon he made out a long intended visit to Arran, walking round its coast and climbing Goatfell, as well as visiting its schools and schoolmasters in furtherance of his educational research. One Sunday, being determined not to go to church, he sallied forth from his quarters bent on a long walk, but hardly got into marching order when he came upon a large open-air assembly gathered round the Rev. Dr Duncan, the learned Free Church Professor of Hebrew, who was

actually sitting beneath the north gable of a cottage, and conducting this rural worship. I had no objection to make myself a member of this church for the moment, so laid myself down on the green hillside and listened to the pious expounder for a period of not less than three hours! I cannot say I felt the least tired; because I lay at my ease gazing at the clear sea, the blue sky, and the green slopes of Holy Isle, and listening to the soft murmurous ripple of the ocean wave, and because when I fixed my regard on the gaunt, uncouth figure of the earnest Calvinist preacher, I found sufficient occupation for heart and imagination to prevent me from noting the time. Duncan is slow, heavy, and full of repetition; but he has noble, winged thoughts that flash forward from the prose of the great mass of his talk. I am glad that I heard him, and hope long to be benefited by the recollection of his serious truthfulness.

Early in August he was in Edinburgh, staying with his father and attending school examinations. He found himself lionised at these functions, for the fame of his 'Ęschylus' was abroad. Reviews by George Henry Lewes and other scholars had supplemented the critical appreciation of Conington with larger praise, and many of the learned visitors, who were celebrating in Edinburgh the instructive junketings of the British Association, sought his acquaintance. Mrs Blackie was visiting her sister-in-law, Mrs Ross, at Beverley, and in his letter to them the Professor retailed his impressions of these new acquaintances. In Arran he had revived his early interest in Geology, and finding his friend Edward Forbes in the Geological Section, he attached himself more particularly to its proceedings, although he had been enlisted on the Committee of the Ethnological Section.

To see [he wrote] Edward Forbes, old M'Laren of the 'Scotsman,' John Longmuir of Aberdeen, and the Duke of Argyll standing on and preaching from the same geological pulpit is, in this country of aristocratic and ecclesiastical partitions, a pure delight. Then I admire the clearness, distinctness, tranquillity, and commanding certitude which displays itself in the best types of the English mind, and more particularly as exhibited in Sir Roderick Murchison, the President of the Geological Section. He was our captain yesterday, as we tramped in a band of forty or fifty up and round about the Calton Hill and Arthur's Seat, and every now and then, as anything peculiar in the rocky volume emerged, he stopped and gathered us round in a ring, and began a field- preaching. I admired very much the clear, direct, soldier-like manner in which he communicated the results of his European observations of many years within the compass of a few short sentences,—a perfect ideal of manly decision without the slightest tinge of dogmatism. Last night I was at one of Dr Gregory's evening parties, which are held every night during the Association. It was a strange mixture of all persons and parties. The Duke of Argyll was there, a notable well worth seeing; worth hearing too, I hope, as he is to read a paper on basaltic rocks in the Hebrides the first to-morrow morning. He is a very young man—about twenty-seven, I should think—of small make and stature, with the most beautiful golden hair and light-blue eyes, a fair, fresh, but delicate complexion, and a refined and intellectual expression. An Athenian professor to whom I was introduced is son-in-law to Skene of Rubislaw. He had his son with him in the beautiful Greek dress, and I spoke a good deal to them both in Modern Greek, and was perfectly well understood. He says I would learn to speak the language fluently in two months.

This gentleman was Professor Rangabč, and the acquaintance ripened later.

When the proceedings of the Association were at an end he joined his wife at Beverley, and in October both returned to the Aberdeen lodgings for the winter.

The session began in November, and the Professor of Humanity initiated its work with a lecture upon the methods of learning languages written and delivered in Latin. It was printed with the motto, from Sir Thomas Browne's 'Re- ligio Medici,' "Now Nature is not at variance with Art nor Art with Nature." This oration, in vigorous Latin, dealt with the rational as opposed to the pedantic method of teaching languages. He suggests the parallel from Nature, where, without other art than mother- wit devises, a child is taught by loving and playful repetition the language of his little world of nursery and home and family, and is furnished with a multitude of names and associations before he is expected to express by inflection their relations to each other, or the subtleties of time and manner which concern their actions. Just so should a beginner be furnished with a vocabulary of the language which he studies, ear and eye being called into service, and not until he is familiar with the names of things in the new world which he seeks to explore can he be called upon to cope with the niceties of their multiform conditions, whether active or passive. To further this later stage of research books are of the greatest importance; but their use must be living, and all that is read must be at once converted into material for speaking. It is better to use a small vocabulary than to construe eternally in unassimilated doses the whole literature of a language. Words once acquired must promptly be put to use, and for this purpose it is important to seek the society of those to whom the language is native, whether German, French, or Greek. But if this be impossible, literature must supplement the defect, and must be read aloud, committed to memory, and declaimed, altered, and readapted for exercise until both the words and style of every author in turn have yielded their utmost of gain. The lecture more particularly censured the practice of making English the chief medium of teaching Latin in the classes of Scottish Universities, where— until the rational and scholarly use of the language by the Professor should at once accustom and encourage his class to its practice—it was hopeless to expect classical proficiency.

At the beginning of the session of 1851, Professor Blackie delivered a lecture in English which not only retraced the ground covered by his Latin oration, but opened up the whole question of the method of studying and teaching languages. Let man he taught to imitate God, who teaches in Nature and whose methods alone are profitable. The "living process of nature acting by divinely implanted instinct" is a model which no pedagogic machinery can excel, or even approach; arid the boy will learn, as the infant does, by ear and eye at first, and just in measure as his environment yields favouring conditions to his imitative faculties. It is when the learner has passed into the further stage of developed intellect, with powers demanding strenuous employment of the material already acquired, that a systematic plan is needed. Then books, grammars, and pedantic accuracy are of worth, if they are supplemented with illustrations, objects, pictures of objects, bright commentaries from the teacher, and always with the extempore use of the language taught, whether in explanation or commentary. From this stage the student reaches the philology first of the particular language in hand, and finally of languages taken in groups, attaining to the comprehensive subject of Comparative Philology, should his mental bent lead him to pursue the research. Coupled with these important suggestions, the Professor recommended special treatment in special cases, and indicated the rational course to be taken when Latin and Greek dulled rather than stimulated the faculties of a boy.

Let the hopeless dunce of the grammar-school be tried with natural history, with geography, drawing, music, turning, fencing, and perhaps he will display the latent instinct which your portentous machinery of grammars and dictionaries has hitherto smothered.

The Greek and Humanity classes of the Scottish Universities should not be cumbered with such students, but their benches should be filled with youths wisely led through the earlier stages of instruction, students eighteen or nineteen years old, who have reached that point in their development when they begin to be susceptible to what is noble and beautiful in the thoughts and style of classical writers. Only when remodelled in some such way can the Universities of Scotland "send forth a race of scholars, thinkers, and theologians whom Europe shall respect."

This lecture embodied incidentally a notable allusion to the low social status to which men expected to be "profoundly versed in Homer and Dernosthenes" are condemned in Scotland by the inadequate salaries which they receive.

They are practically a proscribed race. Say what you please of your respect for education and educators, your respected pedagogue has only £100 or £200 a-year. In my opinion it requires talent of as high an order, and moral character much higher, to make a young man love learning, as to shoot a Sikh or to cut down a Cafire. But the world has hitherto been of a different opinion, and till it choose to alter this opinion, we must expect to find inferior teaching of languages, as of everything else, predominant in the schools. The only way to remedy this evil is to raise the £200 a-year to £500, and teaching will at once become a gentlemanly profession.

This lecture, printed in 1852, along with the Latin address of the foregoing session, is a remarkable forecast of just those reforms which now engage the attention of teachers and educationists. Nearly half a century ago this Scotch Professor stated in clear terms the defects and futility of both pedagogic and academic methods in his country, and foreshadowed with precision the very changes in these which are now demanded. At that time he was almost the only man who raised his voice upon the two subjects of a reformed secondary education and of entrance examination for every University class; and incidentally to his treatment of these, he dealt the prevailing teaching of Prosody— casual and anomalous—a stroke which heralded his later persistent onslaught.

When the session of 1850-51 came to an end, Professor and Mrs Blackie carried out a plan which had taken some years to mature. Their summers had been spent up to that year in a desultory manner, and not always with a fresh result of stimulating experience. So long as they retained the house in Old Aberdeen, they were obliged to limit their excursions. Although the Professor's wanderings on foot were inexpensive, his wife, unequal to their fatigue, was usually relegated to the houses of his or her relatives for lengthy visits. But when 'Ęschylus' was published and paid for, the economy of lodgings began to tell, and since these could be abandoned after the session's residence, they found themselves free to cross the Channel and make their way to Bonn. Mrs Blackie's youngest sister and her husband's half-brother George joined them. The Professor's aim was to study philology, to enlarge his acquaintance with the subject of education in Germany, and to seek the society of several Professors in Bonn with whom he had corresponded for some years. The little party found quarters with a delightful outlook on the Rhine. Their rooms had just been vacated by the Havelocks, and they settled into them with the lively sense of expectation which attends a perfectly new experiment in housekeeping, when the environment is fresh and generates surprises. The ladies picked up German, attended coffee-parties, made acquaintance with the domesticated and sentimental housewives of Bonn, took excursions which these joined with contribution of sausage and salad, gathered lilies of the valley on the Seven Mountains, and ventilated their minds with a breezy inrush of local chronicle and tradition. They met the Chevalier Bunsen, who paid Bonn a visit during their stay, and this meeting made the whole summer significant to Mrs Blackie, who felt that high harmony of powers and motives which rendered him influential, and who recorded in later life the shyness which seized her at the first interview with her husband's "own ideal knight."

Firm friendship was sworn with Professors Brandes, Ritschl, and Bernays, and the quartette left the Rhine University town with sincere regret. Professor Blackie wished to make a tour of inspection in Saxony; so they made their way to Liebenstein late in July, and found a point of departure in that little Thuringian watering-place, where his wife and her sister might stay while he explored the world of Saxon gymnasia.

In Halle, Gotha, and Weimar he found enough to occupy him for a fortnight. He walked to Gotha from Liebenstein, taking the Inselsberg, Ruhla, and Eisenach on his way. From Gotha he tramped to Halle, where he lingered some days, welcomed by Dr Duncker and Professor Roediger, and hearing Tholuck both lecture and preach. From Halle he circled back to Liebenstein by Weimar. "I have' seen to - day," he wrote, "Goethe's house and Schiller's house and Wieland's house and Herder's house, and all the Heiligthumer;" and he spent the following day in digressing to Jena, where he interviewed a Greek Professor "full of genius and character."

Liebenstein depressed him, its "endless idleness and aimless prattle" were antipathetic, and the party left for Holland, where the long holiday was brought to a close.

After their return to Aberdeen, the work of the new session, which included the remarkable lecture already reviewed, was interrupted by news of the death of Professor Dunbar, the occupant of the Greek chair in Edinburgh University. This took place on December 7, 1851. His retirement had for some time been expected, as he was old and ailing, but death antedated the step. This was the opportunity to which Professor Blackie had long had regard. His work in Greek was done as well from hope to seize this golden chance as from choice. "1 wanted," he wrote in the "Notes," "to exchange Latin for Greek, copper for gold." To this end 'Ęschylus' had been translated and published in self-denial, and now that the coveted chair was empty, it was not wonderful that he should be roused to the liveliest exertion.

The Greek chair was in the gift of the Lord Provost, Bailies, and members of the Town Council of Edinburgh. Mr Duncan M'Laren was Lord Provost at the time, and the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church were largely represented in the membership of the municipal body. Most of these gentlemen were respectable tradesmen, who honestly desired to choose the best man, and who in other appointments had shown their competence to do so. But it was difficult for them—their interests being embarked upon currents widely removed from that of classical culture and its claims in the realm of higher education—to decide upon the fitness of the numerous candidates who flooded their table with applications and with wave upon wave of testimonials. Besides, they were hampered by sectarian prepossessions, still keen and bitter after the Disruption of 1843. Excellent and useful citizens as they were, they had their prejudices; and these were the prejudices of men to whom the decent externals of broadcloth and a rigorous observance of Presbyterian formulas, and preferably of U.P. or F.C. Presbyterianism, represented the whole duty of man. A very natural objection to genius was involved in these prejudices, and particularly to genius which eschewed the Sabbatic surtout, and which arrayed itself in checkered trousers and plaid.

The Professor's friends in Edinburgh banded themselves together in an informal committee to advise him upon every step of his application. A more generous, devoted, and honourable backing never sped the fortunes of any candidate. Dr Daniel 'Wilson, his brother Professor George Wilson, Dr Robert Lee, Mr Horn, Air George Harvey, - afterwards President of the loyal Scottish Academy, —Mr Macara, Mr Knox, Mr Hunter of Craigcrook, and Mr Stodart, were some of the hardest workers on this committee; and to them quite as much as to the Professor's qualifications the final success was due. Other men contributed their quota of influence, but on those mentioned fell the heat and burden of the fray. For the number and distinction of the candidates, the prejudices and indecision of the patrons,—who were somewhat unwilling to be reasoned with by powerful special pleaders,—and the unanswerable disabilities of the Professor, who was a genius and figured accordingly in a costume abhorred of Town Councillors at that date, a costume rank of heresies and the very livery of frivolity, made the struggle hot and protracted.

The most powerful rival candidates were Mr Hannah, Rector of the Academy; Mr Bonamy Price of Rugby; Professor Macdouall of Queen's College, Belfast; and Dr W. Smith from the New College in London, whose reputation was chiefly based upon his classical dictionaries. Nineteen applicants in all appeared on the field. Dr Smith and Professor Macdouall were the favourites of the Dissenting Town Councillors.

The Professor issued his first batch of testimonials, and made the initial mistake of forwarding them to the patrons without prepaying the postage. This oversight inevitably detracted from their impressiveness, and Professors Gerhard, Brandes, and Ritschl testified in vain. His next blunder was to come to Edinburgh at Christmastime habited in the obnoxious tartan. He called on all the thirty-three Town Councillors, and dissipated his immediate chance of securing the promise of their votes. It must be conceded that his own manner was his worst enemy in the circumstances. Five minutes of jaunty, reckless discourse, an attack on the narrow-mindedness of the patron under appeal, a sudden shake of his shoulder and a shove, and a burst of laughter for farewell, were not reassuring to a civic dignitary perspiring with responsibility. They were not evidences of scholarship, although mayhap of genius, and only proved the eternal fitness of genius to starve. Besides, the legend of the Tests, whose true history had suffered change in a decade of years, shed a sinister lustre on his repute, and his aggressive defiance of sober inquiry fed the lurid flame.

In January his chance was almost gone. It required weeks of careful work on the part of his committee to nurse it back into existence. The workers knew his real value, and were most anxious to shield his candidature from his own assistance. They wrote letters of almost pathetic entreaty to deprecate his personal interference, to beseech him to remain quietly in Aberdeen, and on no account to repeat the blundering canvass of Christmas. Signs are not wanting that he longed for the fray, and reduced his friends to despair by reiterated proposals to return, and it exercised all their ingenuity to achieve his submission to their better judgment.

Do not come up to Edinburgh till the election is over [wrote one]; it is a pity you came up last time,—some of the tailor electors were quite scandalised at your costume. If you do come just now, for any sake bring decent clothes with you. But your best policy is to stay in Aberdeen.

He was induced to stay in Aberdeen, whence he furnished the electors, and all his more influential friends, with copies of his testimonials, in full, in supplement, in abstract, and prepaid. In this he only adopted the policy of the other candidates. The Town Councillor who struggled through that literature, wave after wave of florid recommendation from nineteen different sources, must have lost his breath in the passage and lain panting on the farther side. But each had his helm by which to steer, and it is an honourable record for that Town Council that it preserved its independence in spite of a vortex of persuasive influences. Very slowly the prejudice against Professor Blackie was overcome. A new issue of his letters and pamphlets on the question of education did much to help the change. That he was a Scotchman already famous in two countries of Europe effected something; that he was not at hand to ruffle their susceptibilities worked for him. The men were thoroughly conscientious: if some were stupid, the greater number were anxious to be unbiassed by petty considerations; but they were both mortal and modern, and the area of their accessible emotions had not profited by such adventitious hardening as unduly favoured the heroes of old.

In February one of their number, Bailie Morrison, paid a visit to Aberdeen to acquaint himself with the estimate held of the Professor by the staid fathers of that city. He found that both as instructor and as Sabbatarian he fulfilled their requirements. The Bailie from that time espoused his cause, and by the end of the month his candidate and the four already mentioned had distanced the rest, who prepared to retire from the contest. The choice lay finally between Dr William Smith, Professor Macdouall, and Professor Blackie. A considerable number of the electors had decided to make the last their candidate at the second vote, and the Lord Provost had accepted him in this order.

The Council met on Tuesday, March 2, 1852, to decide the event. Lord Provost M'Laren proposed Dr William Smith, and Bailie Morrison proposed John Stuart Blackie. Bailie Boyd proposed Professor Macdouall, while Mr Bonamy Price and Mr Hannah were duly brought forward by their supporters. The first vote gave a majority for Dr Smith, to whom Professor Macdouall was second and Professor Blackie third. The remaining candidates had not secured the requisite number of votes, and their names were erased from the list. The second vote altered the position. The promises were implemented, and Professors Blackie and Macdouall found themselves with eleven votes apiece, while Dr Smith fell back and was expunged from the competition. The third vote gave each sixteen, and the Lord Provost recorded his casting-vote with a generous intimation of his great pleasure in so deciding the issue.

The contest was close, but it ended in victory. A quarter of an hour afterwards Dr Daniel Wilson wrote to the just elected Professor of Greek:-

Three cheers, and three times three! T3lackie for ever! After three days of intense anxiety and excitement, I cannot think of sitting down to my regular jog-trot work till I have reached out my arm to Aberdeen, and had a hearty shake with our Professor. Long life and health and happiness to you and your true-hearted wife, who hoped with us to the last against hope. To Bailie Mor- rison you cannot return too hearty thanks. And next to him to Mr Horn and George Harvey. Mr Horn did the most, but he was used to it and liked the work, whereas every councillor Harvey called upon was worse to him than taking a dose of aloes, and yet lie did it like a Briton out of his love to you.

From Dr Schmitz, the Rector of the Edinburgh High School and one of the disappointed candidates, came a generous greeting:-

I look upon your election as that which, next to my own appointment, is the most desirable thing that could happen. If any one else had got the place, I should have felt mortified, but I feel no such thing now, and I am looking forward to the time when we shall live in the same place and work together to one common end.

A current of congratulations set in towards the lodgings in Aberdeen. The first to arrive was Mr Stodart's. It was given in charge to the guard of the train which reached Aberdeen at nine o'clock on the evening of the eventful day, and the news banished sleep from the Professor's pillow that night. The landlady was ill, and Mrs Blackie had promised to tie a white handkerchief outside the window should tidings of victory arrive, so that next day their friends in Aberdeen should learn at a glance how the battle had sped without knocking at the door. Inquirers came to the end of the street, saw the ensign's flutter, and went home glad in their success.

Mrs Blackie rejoiced almost more than her husband. Aberdeen was not congenial to her temperament. She needed a wider social environment, a life richer in friends, in mental stimulus and occupation. She longed for the companionship of relatives, of whom she saw but little during their stay in the north. Her release from straitened conditions is the burden of every letter which she received on the day following the election. The first ten years of her married life had been years of material discipline to her, and if they had developed some of her most influential qualities, it had been at considerable cost. Now better times had dawned, and it was not wonderful that the wife rather than the husband hailed their promise of larger means and of ampler opportunities. The Professor himself was glad and thankful; but now that the battle was over, he adjusted himself to its result more tranquilly. All life and all activity came to him so naturally; he enjoyed every hour of every day to so full an extent; he was so emphatically the source of his own enjoyment, which was in struggle rather than in attainment, that the results of his activity scarcely surprised and seldom elated him.

But he was fully conscious of the debt which he owed to the strenuous labours of his committee, and for some days his pen was busy with acknowledgments of these. Indeed he owed more to these labours than perhaps was evident at the time. After the election was over, even his opponents were heard to admit that in the points of learning and distinction he was the best of the candidates; but while its campaigns were in progress, it took all the zeal and all the persistence of his supporters to overcame the paltry prejudices which the lenses of sectarianism and personal pique distorted and magnified, and which were almost powerful enough to suppress his greater claims, and t admit to the Greek Chair a man inferior in learning and qualified by the accident of Dissent rather than by by the deliberate acquisition of sound and varied scholarship.

Amongst the supporters to whom the result was especially due was Mr Thomas Knox, of the firm of Knox, Samuel, & Dickson in Hanover Street. It is interesting to learn that his enthusiastic support was given as much from his conviction of the Professor's moral worth as from that of his classical attainments. This conviction he had received from an unusual source. A trusted servant in his house had learnt her work in the lodging-house in Dublin Street, whose attics had been John Blackie's home in Edinburgh for some years before he secured the Aberdeen appointment. She had often discussed his diligence, his temperate life, his independence, his constant good-humour, his consideration for others, with her mistress, who, infected by her maid's enthusiasm, espoused his cause with such goodwill that she proved an effective spur in the race. Mr Knox, too, was animated by strong admiration for Mr Robert Horn, with whom he worked in thorough sympathy; and Mr Horn was so identified with Professor Blackie's cause, that when the news of his victory reached the Parliament House a few minutes after two o'clock on that Tuesday afternoon, he was surrounded and congratulated with as much emphasis and cordiality as if he had won the Chair for himself.

Such friends were worthy of the letters, full of gratitude, which they received from the Professor and his wife. Old Mr Blackie, staff in hand, made a glad pilgrimage to every shrine whose oracle had spoken for his son. His joy can be imagined,—his cup was full.


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