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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter XIX. Egypt 1876 - 1879


A CORRESPONDENCE in the 'Scotsman,' roused by Professor Blackie's poem called "Canaries and Creeds," indicates the troubled waters of theological controversy in Scotland during that year and those following. The epoch had its loud pretensions to infallibility, its response in the acclaim of the ignorant, its inquisitors, its traitors, its martyrs, its outcome of the triumph of a wider revelation for which its martyrs suffered, and for which they now are crowned.

Occupied with his College duties and with lectures at Galashiels, Linlithgow, and Govan, he was able to grant Mrs Blackie a very unwonted leave of absence in London, where a new but already greatly valued friend had claimed her presence. This was Miss Pipe of Laleham, who became acquainted with AknaCraig in the summer of 1876, and whose school in Clapham Park had for many years heralded and achieved the larger, stronger, and more radical education for girls, now become a common- place of our time.

During his wife's absence many letters on the subject of his book on Gaelic reached him, and on her return he went north to Inverness for a couple of days on Celtic Chair business. On this subject Mr Froude wrote to him early in February :-

If you are to preserve your native wild Flora, your Gaelic saxifrages and mountain roses, you must preserve them yourselves, as the Welsh do. You yourself are acting well and wisely in protesting against so interesting a relic of other times being allowed to die. But Gaelic, I suppose, can only be really kept alive like one of ourselves-by continuing to live. As long as songs and hymns are composed in Gaelic which have a hold upon the people, so long the language will subsist, and not, I suppose, longer.

Mr Froude was in Edinburgh again and again during the earlier months of 1877, as the Coin- mission of Inquiry held its first sittings there, and the correspondents met oftener than once.

Another letter on the subject of his book came from Government House, Ottawa :-

How can I sufficiently thank you for having remembered me in my exile [wrote Lord Dufferin], and for sending me your charming volume, which, although it has only been three days in the house, I have almost run through? I was extremely interested in the philological part, and some of the ballads are very fine. I must also thank you in the name of all play-lovers for your defence of the Theatre. I do believe that if the salt of the earth were not to set their faces so against it, their countenance would do much, at all events, to keep a certain number of London theatres in the right path. On my way to British Columbia I got through the 'Odyssey,' and am now deep in Thucyclides for the third or fourth time. One never tires of either, but I confess I have the bad taste to prefer the 'Odyssey' to the 'Iliad.'

The morning budget of letters deserves a passing word. The Professor's classification into "Bothers, Blethers, Beggars, and Business" hardly covered its variety. A post-card from Robert Browning in learned discussion of older and later Greek; a lengthy appeal from a pious Jesuit to listen to the burden of scholastic argument and forswear the levities of independent judgment; an inquiry from some obscure sectarian in America as to the sacramental character of feet-washing; three or four requests for a lecture, an article, a photograph, an autograph; some pages of unsolicited advice from an anonymous correspondent; a roll of illegible Mk from an aspiring playwright; a song dedicated to himself; a cheque for the Celtic Chair; an outburst of affection from a Highlander beyond the seas; and half-a-dozen demands for money, these form a sample of a morning's delivery to his address. He enjoyed opening and reading his letters, and he enjoyed answering the greater part of them. Only anonymous and impertinent effusions were put in the fire; the others were answered as favourably as possible. He wrote rapidly, far from legibly, but always briefly and with point; and he took his correspondence as part of the day's work, to be discharged at once if possible, and with as much consideration for the writers as their attitude permitted.

The breakfast hour was ail interesting time often a merry one, as envelope after envelope gave up its contents grave and gay, which he communicated to all present with appreciation or wise laughter. Perhaps the letters most valued were those from students, present and past, at home and abroad. He kept nearly all of these, and rejoiced over them when they breathed gratitude and affection for the teacher and friend whom they addressed. How often his charity went forth to those who entreated it, is known only to the friends who witnessed it in constant exercise. Articles written for magazines, the editions of 'Self- Culture,' and other literary work, brought in an annual sum of money which he regarded as pocket-money. It was spent almost entirely in unrecorded gifts to the needy. The writer remembers a winter during which £120 was so acquired and so distributed, and not one of these gifts was blazoned iii a subscription-list or trumpeted to the giver's credit. His name appeared in many a printed list ; but the daily help to poor students, to poor literary men, to widows and to orphans, belonged not to the advertisement columns, hut to the altar of Him who seeth in secret.

A suggestion made by Professor Hodgson that Wales might prove enthusiastic about the Celtic Chair led to his lecturing at Cardiff and Swansea early in May 1877; but he prefaced his labours with a little tour in the country of Burns and a visit to Whithorn. The walk in Ayrshire refreshed his mind with a glimpse of the shrines sacred to the poet, who was the text, chosen for his lectures. From Girvan he drove along the sea-shore to Stranraer, where he spent a night, and went on next day to Whithorn, the earliest mission-station in Scotland, where St Ninian preached two centuries before St. Columba's advent.

A pious desire to spend the Sunday in that sacred region led me thither on a Saturday; and the heavens, cold but bright, were favourable. This is a most bleak, bare, and grey old place, on the extreme south nose of Scotland; but to any one who can drag in the past to interpret and to decorate the present, it possesses no common charm, and I spent two happy nights there. Beside the parish church, where I attended forenoon service, the four walls of the old church still stand, overgrown with ivy, and showing on one side an old Saxon door. About two and a half miles farther to the S.E., close by the sea-shore, is the shell of another old church, but less ornate in its style, both belonging to the period when "kings and queens and warriors bold came to crook their proud knees and keep their vows and lavish their gold for the dear grace to kiss St Ninian's hones." The pomp of Whithorn in those times, contrasted with the grey, grave, and bleak aspect of the same site on a Presbyterian Sunday, haunted my imagination and produced a sonnet.

From Portpatrick to Chester to visit Dean Howson, thence to Rhyl to make the acquaintance of Professor Rhys, and thence to Cardiff, where—his lecture well over—he was introduced to the docks and mighty industries of the place, occupied a week, and on May 6 he reached Swansea. On his way thither he halted

among the bare hills at Dowlais, amid armies of black chimneys spouting voluminous smoke from long, serried ranks of sleepless furnaces, where streams of liquid iron are flowing, like rills feeding a pandemonian Phlegethon. I was led through the fiery scenes of that stupendous city of Vulcan.

On leaving Swansea he went to London, and stayed with Dr George Wyld in Great Cumberland Place. He was at once drawn into the customary vortex, but endured it for not more than a fortnight. His chief concern was to get a pub- usher for a book whose composition had filled the hours left at leisure after the issue of 'The Lan guage and Literature of the Scottish Highlands'. This was 'The Wise Men of Greece '—a series of dramatic dialogues intended to place before the reader the older philosophers, each at a crucial moment, when the fundamental dogma of his teaching is brought into high relief. The dramatic fragments, although polished in his more recent leisure, were the outcome of years of hard study, and some of them were partially constructed before he shaped and linked them together in intelligent sequence. At first he meant to present only the continuous thought of pre-Socratic minds, but he could not bring himself to exclude Socrates and Plato from his exposition.

He showed the MS. to Mr Macmillan, who undertook its publication; and he dedicated the book to Mr Torn Taylor, as an indication of his esteem for the man, the writer, and the critic. Breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, with " all sorts and conditions of men," kept him in constant movement, and he managed as well to see "Rip Van Winkle," with Jeflrson in the title róle, finding the play " extremely moral." He breakfasted twice with the Duke of Sutherland, and recognised his real goodness and greatness, which circumstances somewhat misrepresented, and perhaps somewhat confounded. On May 19 he fled to Cambridge, where he spent some days at St Peter's College Lodge—longer than he proposed, being overtaken by a sharp attack of illness as penalty for the hurry-scurry in town. He was well nursed, and in his convalescence read Ruskin's 'Fors Clavigera.' What brilliant unreasonableness! what rare gems amid showers of saw-dust! Every virtue of a good writer except Sense and Self-control."

He returned to Edinburgh in broken weather, and the voyage to Oban was undertaken in a storm.

The Free Church Assembly was busy with dubious work, beginning its persecution of Dr Robertson Smith, and he had to trust to correspondents for a full account of the pitiful scene. That the eventual result of stupidity, cowardice, shuffling, and rancour should prove to be increase of honour to Dr Robertson Smith, and of enlightenment to all students of the Bible, was not apparent then, and men could hardly look forward to a time when the paltry persecutors of that day would accept, without a twinge of remorse, the larger knowledge of their victim, and attitudinise as progressive.

Why did Luther fling,

chanted the Professor,

His ban against the Pope and his misdeeds,
If private judgment must be caged in creeds,
Each free word gagged, and clipt each upward wing,
And you, with churchly ban and pulpit drum,
Strike Bible readers blind and prophets dumb!

The proofs of' The Wise Men' began to arrive towards the end of June, and he submitted them to Professor Campbell Shairp for criticism. Professor Shairp wrote that poems on Greek heroes were not of absorbing interest, but that he must admit the claim of the philosophers to universality, and that he had particularly enjoyed the revelation of Trinitarian orthodoxy on part of Pythagoras!

Miss Isabella Bird was staying with her sister at Tobermory, and the Altnacraig party paid them a visit one long June day. The crofter's cottage which Miss Henrietta Bird had converted into a lady's bower inspired the Professor with the best of all his rhymed tributes to a woman. "The Lay of the Little Lady" deserves to live, as well for the daintiness of its versification as for the truth of its portraiture. It was translated into Gaelic by a Highland friend, and is a folk-song in the island of Mull, where her beneficent. presence was known and loved for many years :-

On the deep sea's brim,
In beauty quite excelling,
White and tight and trim,
Stands my lady's dwelling.
Stainless is the door,
With shiny polish glowing;
A little plot before,
With pinks and sweet-peas growing.

. . . . .

Where a widow weeps,
She with her is weeping
Where a sorrow sleeps,
She cloth watch watch it sleeping
Where the sky is bright,
With one sole taint of sadness,
Let her heave in sight
And all is turned to gladness.

Later in the month Miss Isabella Bird was staying at. Altnacraig, occupied with plans for her adventurous tour in the Japanese Islands, which she carried out in 1878, and which gave to the Western world its most readable book on that interesting country while the light of other days still lingered on its customs and social life, and before it had fully assimilated the long result of slow centuries in the West, and passed through the extraordinary revolution which a handful of years and impassioned energy have effected.

It was about the end of June that Professor Blackie sent an eloquent letter to the 'Scotsman' on the whole subject of the wrong done to the Highlands by the land and game laws, and by the depopulation consequent upon their exercise. The subject with which he had assailed the public ear for so long was at length reaching that organ, and was eventually to reach the public conscience. Letters from grateful Highlanders at home and in exile poured in upon him.

Early in July he started for a week's lecturing tour in the North, making his appearance on the Inverness platform as "Saxon Chief" of its Celtic society. He returned to join Dean Howson at Loch Baa, where the weather was wretched, and where he stayed only two days, taking the Dean with him to Altnacraig. A short stay with Dr and Mrs Kennedy, who were summering at Aberfeldy, occupied the last days of August, and September was made especially interesting by a visit to Taymouth towards time heart of the month. These seem to have numbered his wanderings for the season, which was occupied else with correcting proofs, with the study of Atheism expressed in articles for 'Good Words,' and with some modern psalms for the same journal.

20th September was made memorable by the warm sympathy which he found there for all his Highland enthusiasms. Lady Breadalbane was as faithful a lover of Gaelic as he. was himself, caring infinitely for her Highland home and her Highland people, and she entered into his hopes for the preservation of their language with an equal interest. The Professor lost his luggage on the road to Ta mouth, and as it could not be recovered the first night, he had to descend to dinner arrayed in "toggerv belonging to the Earl" ! But such incidents never tried his composure, and although a stately company, some thirty in number and including Prince Leopold, sat down to table, he thoroughly enjoyed the talk and the tableaux virants afterwards, in which Lady Breadalbane took part as Joan of Are and as Queen Guinevere. It is worth travelling a thousand miles to see the Countess alone, so full of vitality, and nature, and dignity, and grace."

His closing weeks at Altnacraig were disquieted by rumours of the approaching railway, which two years later was in full possession of Oban, and which, strengthened by some secondary considerations, ultimately chased Professor and Mrs Blackie away from their home on the "sublime heights."

'The Wise Men of Greece' came out early in His visit to Taymouth from the 17th to the November, and letters from Professor Schliemann, Dean Stanley, and Mr Gladstone, who "joined the chorus of acclaim," indicate a percentage of his kindly critics. Dean Stanley's note gives us a clue to a plan maturing in the Professor's mind to cast the slough of toils, literary, academical, and peripatetic, in the new year, and betake himself to the healing waters of the Nile for a period of oblivion and renewal. Before his plans could be carried out he paid a flying visit to London, to arrange with Mr Tsbister for the publication of his 'Natural History of Atheism,' which was issued towards the close of 1877, and was reprinted in New York a year later by Messrs Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. His books had now considerable vogue in America, and the same firm had printed his 'Four Phases of Morals,' 'Self- Culture,' and the 'Songs of Religion and of Life.' The Highlanders alone in the States formed an admiring public for the works of the beloved "Apostle of the Celts," and their influence, as well as the exceptional worth of 'Self-Culture,' made him a revered and popular author amongst Americans. He was again and again asked to lecture across the Atlantic, but his hands were always too full on its hither shore to permit him to go; and perhaps his want of personal acquaintance with Americans led him to fear the stress and strain of such a tour, where he had almost everything to learn, and where he foresaw that his reckless rhetoric might lead him into many pitfalls.

The labour connected with the Celtic Chair had begun to tell a little on his health and a good deal on his endurance, and he had brought the fund to so unexpected a stage of success that he had ample excuse for a respite from a kind of toil which was never congenial to him, although so vigorously and victoriously conducted. He got leave of absence from the University for his trip to Egypt towards the end of January, his friend Dr Donaldson taking the work of the Greek class during its term. Mrs Blackie, still in failing health, longed for a spring in Italy, and Mrs D. O. Hill, the friend of many years, decided on joining her, while Miss Alice Lewis, Mrs Blackie's niece, went with them as guide and interpreter in a land which had been her home for many years.

Before the start letters poured in anent the 'Natural History of Atheism.' Mr Froude was again in Edinburgh, busy with "the final revise of the Report" issued by the Inquiry Commission, and interested to find that one of his 'Short Studies' had been translated into Greek. "We regard Greek," he wrote on January 3, 1878, "as a sacred tongue in which only the very best of everything has a right to be expressed. I feel myself converted at once into a classic.

Introductions came pouring in from various quarters. The Duke of Sutherland sent several to friends in Cairo. "How you will enjoy yourself," he wrote, and meet Scotchmen when you least expect it!" A young Greek in his class gave him letters to his relatives in Alexandria.

The party left Edinburgh on January 28, spent two nights in London, and reached Paris on the 30th, leaving the same evening for Marseilles, where the Professor took steamer to Alexandria, and the ladies rested before pursuing their way to Rome. His long journey predisposed the voyager for his berth, and he slept fourteen hours at a stretch. The transit lasted from February 1 to 6, a day longer than usual, for the wind blustered and the steamer roiled. Its tedium was relieved by a few hours at Naples, the only respite from storm. So welcome was Alexandria that he stayed there several days, receiving hospitality from Dr Yule, and from the pleasant Greek family to whom be had been recommended. As a set-off to his discomfort on the sea, and to the storm which raged at Alexandria, he spent his first evening at Dr Yule's in a mood of resentful patriotism, singing Scotch songs. It was an ill-omened arrival in the land of the Pharaohs, and made an impression which he never overcame. Instruction, he admitted, was to be had in Egypt, but not enjoyment. He was too late for the Nile; heat, dust, and baleful winds followed unwonted rain, and produced the lassitude and physical depression with which great heat affected him. But he addressed himself to travel and to tomb and temple inspection, after some study of Strabo in Alexandria. On February 10 he reached Cairo, and was greeted there with rain and wind, which lasted several days, and accompanied him oil 12th, when he went on board Cook's steamer. By the 26th he was at Luxor, and found Mr Campbell of Islay there before him, the sole lord of a roomy da1abeecth, in which he entertained the Professor to dinner. Walking towards Thebes about sunset, he encountered a big tortoise on its slow progress, and stopped to enjoy the sight. He rejoined his fellow-travellers, exclaiming, "A well-to-do old gentleman out for his evening walk." A few days at Luxor, where Dr Appleton was staying, and proved to be the best and kindest of guides, was his most enjoyable experience in Egypt. On the way to Phllqe the heat was oppressive. "Once for all," he wrote, "the East does not suit me either physically or morally—only I am glad to have seen it."

He effervesced in sonnets, which relieved his lively sense of wrong, and rehearsed the everlasting plagues of Egypt. Guides, donkey-boys, Arabs, heat, dust, insects, and the general tendency to take him in tow and shackle his movements inured to freedom, form the burden of twenty-three effusions, happily forgotten. Abu Simbel compensated for some of the plagues, and the power and repose of the great Rameses' face partially restored his equanimity, but he rejoiced when the downward voyage began and the explorations ceased. Temples and tombs palled upon him, and there were no ladies on board to mitigate their dull reiteration. However, he found his fellow-travellers genial enough for were males, and came to terms with one of them, who, taking the Nile on his homeward journey from India, was the possessor of a pith helmet, which he exchanged for the Professor's wideawake. This structure was cool and striking, and pleased its new owner on both grounds. He liked distinctive dress, and when he returned to Cairo, purchased an Eastern shawl of many colours, which he wore wound round his waist like an Albanian klepht. A crimson sash was a favourite adornment at home, dating ever since a friend had embroidered one for a bygone birthday, and Oban was used to its presence in his summer equipment. But his appearance in Cairo must have been more impressive.

He stayed there sixteen days, giving up his intended tour in Palestine, and consoling himself with the Boulak Museum. The heat daunted him and sapped his enterprise. On March 29, however, he summoned up courage for the Pyramid of Khufu, and scorned all assistance from Arab guides in the ascent. When he reached the top he conceived a great contempt for the "arithmetical sublimity" of the structure, which seemed to him to border on the ridiculous. He was unable to admire the post-mortem glory of the Pharaohs, being always inclined to appreciate the past from his own standard of worth in the present. Two other Scotchmen were with him, and the three aired their nationality by singing "Scots wha hae" at the top, asserting that Robbie Burns was a bigger man with a grander fame than Khufu or Kephren. He wrote notes to Sir Alexander Grant, arid to his wife and aunt, in fulfilment of farewell promises. That to Mrs Blackie runs:-

Top of the Great Pyramid, 29th March, 11.30 A. M.
Here is a greeting for you from the peak from which sixty centuries look down. Cherish the sacred memory of Cheops.—Your faithful Pro.

Coming down was not so independent a process as going up: he was glad of the help of his three Arabs, whose company he had so resented, and he felt shaky and dislocated when the business was fairly over.

His introductions procured him plenty of pleasant society, as well as an invitation from the Khedive to a ball at Abdeen Palace, held on April 4. Mr Vivian supplied the needful garments from his own wardrobe, and the Professor went under his wing. But he was neither edified nor diverted, and was with some difficulty restrained from giving the Khedive a bit of his mind on extravagance.

On April 11 he wrote:

This is my penultimate day in the land of mummies, crocodiles, and drifting sands,—rags, ruins, beggary, and simooms. I go off to-morrow for Alexandria, whence we sail on Saturday, going round by the Levant,—to reach Palermo, I understand, on the 29th.

This voyage refreshed and restored him. Dr Appleton was with him, and the steamer touched at Beyrout, Jaffa, and Smyrna, giving him opportunities for a run to Tarsus and a sight of Ephesus.

On board this most excellent ship I have plenty of fresh air, plenty of leisure, good company, and a constant succession of fine panoramic views of a coast not inferior in various beauty to the lovely sail from Oban to Gairloch, and much superior, of course, in historic incident. When at Mersina, a harbour in Cilicia, where we shipped incalculable bales of cotton, I took the opportunity of running up to Tarsus, which lies about fifteen miles to the N.E. of the town. The drive lay across the flat plain of Cilicia, very fertile but very treeless, till we came to a bouncing stream and rich gardens of orange and fig trees, with rows of poplars standing up against the sky. The town is small, but has a fair inn, a good proportion of shops, and an aspect of business; but the only remains of antiquity is an old arch the Western Gate, I presume, of the city, under which St Paul no doubt often walked, thinking unutterable things, when a boy.

I have written five letters to the Scotsman' descriptive of our voyage, which you will see in due season.

Palermo was reached on April 30, and he spent the first four days of May in Sicily, seeing Girgenti, Syracuse, Taorrnilla and Messina. At Girgenti he was mobbed by a crowd of youths, who, from

a quite laudable curiosity, made researches into the character of a strange-looking, white-haired old gentle- man, walking on his own legs, with a many-coloured Turkish sash about his loins, and having his head topped with one of Watson & Co.'s Bombay ventilator-caps, of a conical shape, very much like the head - gear of those formidable gentlemen time Prussian soldiers.

Out of the mob two or three bright young students rallied to his assistance, and served as his guide to the lions of the ancient Agrigentum.

Mrs Blackie was at Naples, and on May 5 he joined her there, and the quartette moved north to Rome, Florence, and Venice. There a great trouble overtook them. Miss Lewis fell ill of typhoid fever, and they were detained for a month during the hot weeks of June and early July. Mrs Blackie's health was severely strained by anxiety and nursing, and when eventually they were allowed to travel, two invalids instead of one had to endure the fatigue of long railway journeys and night halts. They were compelled to shorten the stages to seven hours daily, and their route lay through the Dolomites and by the Brenner Pass to Innsprück, thence to Munich and Bonn. At Bonn the Professor's patience had to be stayed with sonnets. It was thus he waited:-

Another, and another, and another
Day on the toilsome road that drags us home.
O for one quiet careless hour beside
My own Scotch hearth, or 'mid my green grass dells,
With breezy pine-trees waving, and the pride
Of purple heather, foxglove, and bluebells!
Grant me this, God, and teach my soul to cease
From thoughts that travel far, and ways that find no peace.

His soul proved unteachable. These constant records of travel, tedious to many a reader, are inseparable from the story of his life. Movement was an essential part of his vitality, an imperious need. Like Ulysses, he "would not rest from travel," and he found it "dull to pause, to make an end." In that he resembled, too, the restless Erasmus, as in so much else of the more erudite Dutchman's character and nimbleness. It is impossible to expunge the notes of his constant itineraries from his biography, as with them would go the very impulses of what he was to his world, and on that ground the writer must crave indulgence for the endless rehearsal of his Journeys.

By the last day of July they were at Altnacraig, Mrs Blackie's health undermined and her nervous system shattered. He walked about for an hour in the cool of the eve before entering the house, drinking in the peace of his Highland seclusion.

The affairs of the Celtic Chair Fund now engaged his attention. Mr Beith had transacted them during his absence, and they were highly prosperous. It was necessary to draw up a statement for the Committee, and the books showed that a sum of £11,725 had been collected. It was decided to continue the investment of this money, to make it up to £12,000 by April 1879, and to leave that sum intact for two years until it sufficed for an endowment of over £500 a-year. The money was invested on landed security. The Professor did not stint his labours until the result aimed at was secured.

Two summer months passed quickly away, a visit to Loch Baa alone breaking their welcome repose.

I like talking to you better than writing, so get into the boat and come here [wrote the Duke of Sutherland from Dunrobin in September]; we will talk about men and lasses being better than sheep.

But he resisted the tempting summons.

In October he had to return alone to Edinburgh, Mrs Blackie going to Wemnyss Bay for change. The College session opened a week earlier than usual. He stayed with his brother- in-law, Major Wyld, in Inverleith Row.

We are getting on very swimmingly here: in the even- inc, we take a rattle at backgammon, and the Major enlarges on his Indian campaigns in an amusing and edifying style. My Celtic Chair Report comes out to- morrow. The classes open on Tuesday. I have written out part of a lecture on "The Study of Modern Languages" for the 'Scotsman.'

This letter is dated October 23. One written two days earlier speaks of a pleasant luncheon- party, where he met Miss Ferrier, daughter of the metaphysician.

With her I entered into various serious conversations about Episcopalian and other Churches. She said she could stand St no longer; its monotony and mechanical routine and general ditch-water dulness were too intolerable. She is healthy, cheerful, and very lovable ; so I hope you will take her under your wing some summer, as you always know how to cherish good sped- inens of your own sex.

Mrs Blackie returned in time for the opening session, and his winter's work began. It included a run to London at the end of November to preside at a Celtic gathering there, but he was back in three days. He spent an evening at Westminster Deanery, and gave Dean Stanley his "Nile Litany," a tirade against the plagues of Egypt, composed at Luxor. Invoking Ha, Osiris, Anubis, and other local powers, he entreats protection against crocodiles, sand, dust, and flies, against baksheesh, antico - vendors, donkey-boys, and "all the haggling crew that buzz and fuss with much ado," and he makes a vow to all

The gods in Ramses' stately ball
At Karnak on the Nile-stream,

. . . . .

Never more with sweaty toil
To frighten frog or crocodile
Up the yellow Nile-stream

. . . . .

Nevermore to stir the stones
For mummy rags or blackened bones
At Memphis or Abydus

. . . . .

Far from Scotia's darling seat,
Nevermore with weary feet
To dust it up the Nile-stream
All this, good Osiris,
I swear it by the Nile-stream!"

The Dean wrote on Dec. 2

MOST WICKED BUT MOST DEAR PROFFESOR,—I have read with much laughter and keenly awakened recollections of the Nile your daring Litany, which, however, as it is but a "bit of paper," I should, had I obeyed your maxim of Saturday night, have thrown into the fire, as interfering, like every other litera scripta, with the spontaneous and extempore development of my free prophetic power. Alas! when I think of the anxiety of our dear and most valued Archbishop at Edinburgh, I can hardly write with a light heart.

The opening year, 1879, brought him a gift of memories made precious by death, the Duchess of Argyll and his Nile comrade 1)r Appleton passing away in its early weeks. Dr Appleton had returned to London the previous summer apparently well, but the first autumnal damps sent him back to Luxor, and there on February 1 he was buried.

The Professor was casting about for an occupant to the Celtic Chair, and consulting all and sundry upon the qualifications essential. It was difficult to decide whether time new Professor should be a great Celtic philologer of any nationality, or mainly a student of Gaelic, Welsh, and Erse, and of Highland race.

He was in correspondence, too, with the late Dr Birch of the British Museum, who sent him a hieroglyphic rendering of his name, "Chief of the Bards Blackie," in return for the the litany.

At the "Blackie Brotherhood" banquet held on December 27, his return from Egypt was sung in jocund rhyme by Sheriff Nicolson, the bard of that festive body :-

Many were his lively jinks
In the country of the Sphinx
Natives he astonished there,
Copt and Moslem he gar'd stare;
Quick of Arabs he got rid,
Climbing Cheops' Pyramid,
And when on the top he sprung,
'Scots wha hae' with birr he sung.
To the land of Bruce and Burns
Very welcome he returns.
Tell the news in brugh and glen,
Blackie he is come again!

Now with spirits full of glee
Mackie in his place we see;
Scotland when he was away
Seemed more empty than to-day
Let the times be e'er so sad,
Let the world go o'er so mad,
Pious thanks and cheerful mood
Well become this Brotherhood
Sing then, ye unworldly men,
Blackie he is come again
Tell the news in brugh and glen,
Blackie he is come again!

Mrs Blackie's health gave cause for anxiety all winter, and she shrank from the flitting to AltnaCraig. As spring drew near, it was decided that she should go first to Dunblane Hydropathic, and then to Moulin, near Pitlochry, to a little cottage there, and so escape the long summer of housekeeping and hospitality.

This left the Professor free to carry out a project left over from the year before. He had missed Rome then, and wished to make good the defect, and to study there some aspects of the agrarian question iii Italy. His mind was much exercised with the lapse into malarial sterility of large tracts of what in ancient days was fruitful farm and garden land. Dr Steele, an old student settled in the Via Condotti, invited him to begin these studies as his guest, and promised hiiii much of immediate interest in the world of archeology and politics.

He started for London on April 21, 1879, "free at last from business, bothers, and blethers." In the train he studied "the mysteries of wages, rent, profit, &c., about three times as much as I could have done in the extremely accessible place called the study in 24 Hill Street."

A peep into the House of Commons and calls on various publishers and editors completed his doings in town, and he left on the 25th for Paris, and thence on the 27th for Turin. Here he stayed long enough to see the city and its memorials of the liberation of Italy, and to climb its neighbouring heights. He was at Genoa by the 30th, and at Pisa next day. There, the hotel company being scant and uninspiring, he devoted his after-dinner solitude to the composition of three sonnets on "The Virgin Mary," "Garibaldi," and "Columbus," trailing some clouds of reminiscence from Turin and Genoa.

On May 3 he reached Rome and his hosts in the Via Condotti. By this time lie had cast his winter coat, and lie fluttered into the capital in a suit of light tweed, and a white wideawake of the soft - crowned, wide-brimmed variety, which he preferred. His first impulse, after breakfast next day, was to go to St Peter's. He had not seen the great Cathedral for half a century, but felt familiar with its precincts—as who does not, having once measured its cheerful floor?

He began his reading at once with a book just written by Signor Minghetti, whose acquaintance he had the good fortune to make. The book was a stiff treatise on 'Public Economy,' but he tackled it manfully, not without a sense, of strangeness in the Italian terminology. The weather was broken, storm followed storm. "C'è il dernonio chi porta la mnoglia in carozza!" ("It's the devil taking his wife a drive!") said the cook.

On May 10 he called on Minghetti,

with whom I had some interesting talk on the state of public affairs in home, and on the economical condition of the Aqro Romano, which I have been studying zealously here for a week. At first I was quite in the dark, but now begin to see clearly that it is the large properties, along with the devastation of centuries and the curse of a hieratico-aristocratic government, that are chiefly to blame for the damnable offence of turning this paradise of busy men into a favourite hunting-ground of the Plague.

An interesting episode is recorded in his letter of May 13:—

At eleven o'clock yesterday we drove to the palace of Cardinal Howard. The lord of the manor was not there himself, being engaged with the other cardinals holding a consistory for the purpose of creating a batch of new cardinals and other ecclesiastical business. We had to wait in the hail of audience, all hung with flaming cardinal's colour, for an hour at least. Here I amused myself by being introduced or talking to half-a--dozen people, besides half-a-dozen others who recognised me. The room was not large, and so crowded with ring behind ring of worshipping expectants that I had to stand on tiptoe to get a sight of the great pervert when he came in. However, I happened to be in the part of the room where the radius was nearest to him, and I got a distinct impression of his physiognomy, strong in the upper region, but rather weak below, I suppose from lack of teeth. But if my view of the personal presentation was only by glirnpses,—for Newman sat all the while, being too weak to stand,—I had the good luck to hear every word distinctly which he spoke—in English with a clear mellow voice, and ill chaste sequence of sentences in perfect harmony with the fine tone of the sentiments. The substance was exactly what I expected. The doubts and struggles, negatives and threatened anarchies, of modern Liberalism, had thrown him back oil the visible unity of God's eternal truth presenting itself to the Western world, and there he found peace and comfort to his soul. It was a moral gain to have heard it from the lips of so good and gracious a mail but a more illogical proceeding cannot well be imagined.

Two pieces of news reached him from Edinburgh, both grievous and regretted—Dr Hodgson's retirement from the Chair of Political Economy, and Professor Kelland's death. Of the latter he wrote :-

I was not surprised to hear of the final dismissal of dear old Kelland from his terrestrial services. He was drooping all winter like a flower with a broken stalk, and it is pleasant to remember with what a bright flash of humour and Christian geniality he departed. I am now the Nestor. . . . I have fallen in love with a mail a book called 'I miei Ricordi,' di Massimo Azelio. It is full of wisdom and manhood and deep glances into the private places of Italian life at the commencement of the present century.

His visit to Dr Steele came to an end about the middle of May, and he chose a lodging far away from the haunts of Englishmen, in the topmost storey of No. 15 Piazza di Monte Vecchio, where he could resume his own untrammelled ways—wandering, studying, noting, selecting, and paying just such visits as pleased himself. He took his morning coffee in the Piazza Navona; made friends with the people— "delightfully simple-minded, friendly, and superlatively polite"; went for long walks on the Campagna and amongst the Alban hills; dined or lunched with the Mingbettis or other Roman resident; and scrupulously avoided John Bull abroad.

On May 19 he wrote :-

We are in the full enjoyment of the most delightful summer weather, and I am in the full swing of Roman visits, Roman excursions, and Roman studies, which, alas! must end before they are more than conscious of their commencement. You can picture me in my sublime garret, very serene amid considerable disorder and small discomforts, with an array of books and pamphlets—all Italian—covering the table and waiting to be put into shape by the little busy brain of that wonderful little moth called man.

He records a most interesting conversation with Madame Minghetti on the ]ow status of women in Italy—a matter now slowly mending.

She has been twice married, and after her experience of Neapolitan Marcheses and Princes, who are the merest fribbles of humanity, and yet think it their highest privilege and dominant duty to keep their wives under, so that they may be always a little more ignorant than themselves, she was determined to marry a man who would treat her seriously. Minghetti is the leading thinker and speaker and writer of the Moderate party here, and is destined at no distant period to become Prime Minister of Italy.

He spent his last Roman Sunday afternoon at the Protestant cemetery, stopping at Goethe's osteria to meditate; and on May 27 he left for Orvieto, where he spent two days, forgathering with Mr Rathbone from Liverpool, and visiting in his company the Etruscan tombs in the woods above the city.

He reached Florence on the 30th, and busied himself there with agrarian studies, visiting some of the neighbouring farms, with Mr Macdougall for companion and informant. He was so fortunate as to witness the festival of Lo Statuto on June 1, and enjoyed its pomp and display. A run to the Lakes, where he met Mr and Mrs Mudie, and shared their carriage from Luino to Lugano, ended his holiday in Italy; and in spite of warning from his fellow-travellers, he crossed the Alps by the Splugen Pass with post and sledge, and arrived at Coire on the afternoon of June 8.

It was the most wonderful drive that I ever made, and will leave a perfect Pantheon of pictures in my mind. If I had yielded to timorous persuasions and returned by Turin and the Mont Cenis Tunnel, I should have gone through life quite ashamed of myself, like a dog with tail not gallantly swirled up, but shamefully curled beneath its hurdies.

As "Apostle of the Celts" he digressed to St Gallen in search of the famous manuscript in its library, and this adventure is worth quoting:-

To be sure I could not read the ol(I Irish characters, but I was the founder of the Celtic Chair, and to be within two hours' journey of perhaps the oldest Celtic manuscript in the world, and not stir a foot to see it, would have been an unpardonable sin. The result was rather unfortunate. The moment I arrived I sent my card to the Inspector of the Library, requesting special permission to examine the MS. The Inspector was unwell, but with politeness lie requested me to present myself before his bed, where he lay and addressed me in very proper English. There were no difficulties. Time old woman, his right hand in such matters, would go in with me and unlock the sacred cases in which these precious relics of old Hibernian learning and piety were preserved. We went: four cases were opened; but I saw at a glance of each that they were all Latin or Greek or old German—certainly nothing that had the slightest look of either a Highlander or a Hibernian. Some mistake I Back to the recumbent old gentleman, who explained that he had understood me to say that [ wished to see certain old Latin MSS. written by Irish disciples of St Columba, not MSS. in the old Gaelic language: there was only one such, an Irish Glossary belonging to the Library, and it it had been lent out, on special security given, to a student of Celtic in Milan Well, I had at least done my duty, if not gratified my curiosity ; and this also was a consolation, that in Milan, the capital city of the old Celtic Insubres, where Gaelic was spoken several centuries before Latin was known in the world, one individual did exist who occupied himself with the most venerable study of his ancestors. Honour be to his name Might he not be fished up and invited to be first Professor Of Celtic in the University of Edinburgh? Well, another thing also I learned: the walls of the cloister are hung with curious old pictures representing the life and adventures and miraculous exploits of Gallus and Columbanus, both Irishmen of the sixth or seventh century, who brought Gospel and civilisation into these wild parts.

A glimpse of Constance and one of Frankfort preluded a visit of three days to Professor Pauli in Göttingen, one much enjoyed for its quiet, and for Dr Pauli's delightful singing of student songs. Some allusions to fatigue and to old ailments appear in these letters, and he was glad to get back to Edinburgh on June 18. Here he spent two days with Dr Walter C. Smith, writing on the 19th to Mrs Blackie : " Be greeted, fatherland, home, and wife!" He joined her at Moulin on the 20th, and settled down to the joys of the little Highland retreat, to the refreshment of Ben Vrackie's. peak and rolling slopes, and to the usual complement of letters and sonnets for the 'Scotsman,' describing his doings abroad. He climbed Ben Vrackie one July day, and paid his homage in the evening:

Thou art the queen and sovereign of this land,
Which loves thy shelter and invites tin' breeze,
Whose nearer heights thy bluff old guardians stand,
Or climb with green attendance up thy knees.
I praise thy sharp peak neighboured with the stars,
Thy keen pure air of lung-distending rareness,
Thy hoar front battered with long windy wars,
And the wild charm of thy far-stretching bareness.

It is amusing that he was invited about this time to contest the Inverness Burghs as a "Radical Jacobite" He was at Inverness early in July, making his customary speech on Highland matters at the annual banquet there; but he did not linger in the North, being drawn back by the charm of the Perthshire hills, which held him till the last week of August. Already the tie to AJtnacraig was loosened. The railway was making havoc of Oban and its neighbourhood; peace was gone from the road by the Sound of Kerrera. Miss Isabella Bird wrote to Mrs Blackie: " I fear that Pro.'s delight in Perthshire sounds the death-knell of Altnacraig."

Late in August he set out on a round of visits to Tayrnouth, to Cluny, to Conan House, and to Skeabost in Skye. While at the last place he went to a school-inspection for the district of Snizort.

About 150 comely young persons of both sexes—generally clean and well-dressed, although one or two were rather ragged and dirty—screamed out with harsh voices some of the well-known English and Scotch songs generally sung in Lowland schools. Not being particularly edified with this exhibition, I asked for a Gaelic song; but, as I expected, could get none: so little do the red-tape gentlemen up-stairs know of the first principles of moral education, one of which is to cultivate the heart by the agency of the mother-tongue and of popular song—the growth of the soil. The spirit immediately moved me to stand up and exhort the master and the scholars to the cultivation of native song; and to nail down my exhortation, and suit the action to the word, I took a pound-note out of my purse, and wrapping a shilling in it, proclaimed a guinea prize for the best. Gaelic song to be sung at next examination. Then, of course, three cheers were given for the Pro. The great event was the appearance of the Bambhairi, or poetess, who came forward and requested leave to sing a Gaelic song of her own composition, which she did with a wonderfully good voice, the subject of the poem being nothing less than a Pindaric celebration of the great Apostle of the Celts, commonly called the Pro.: this was received with oceans of applause, and the poetess concluded by following the Pro.'s example and giving a prize for Gaelic singing, afterwards exchanging sticks with the Pro., to what effect you will see when I present my very unusual and original staff of travel which I received from the Ban-bhaiil.

He went home by Oban, where he stayed a few days with Mrs Otter, and by Kingussie, where he picked up another stick, "strong, sturdy, and formidable, which will do to knock the devil down if he should not behave well."

All his letters are full of regret that his wife is not with him, and that she misses so much that is good and beautiful.

In autumn the most interesting event was Mr Gladstone's visit to Scotland, and Professor Mackie was invited to meet him both at Tay mouth and Dalmeny. At the latter place the old friends met, and differed about Homer and much else, and liked each other none the worse. He wound up his wanderings for the year by presiding at the Caledonian Association Festival at Manchester on St Andrew's Day, where the deficit in the fund for the Celtic Chair was more than made up—Bristol, "ten good Celts of Liverpool," Toronto, Hudson's Bay Factorymen, Lord Hartington, and Sheriff Nicolson having helped to complete this success. The fund exceeded £12,000, and his financial labours ended with 1879.


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