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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter XX. Retirement from the Greek Chair 1880 - 1882


THE years from 1880 to 1885 are significant for the Professor's public utterances and writings on the Crofter question. His studies in Italy had been made for the express purpose of accustoming his mind to the consideration of all problems involved in the subject of land-tenure, varying as these problems do in the varying customs and conditions of that country. He was thus better fitted to deal with what was becoming a matter of immediate moment.

He began 1880 by lecturing in Glasgow on the Crofters, and "preached a sermon to the lairds with more than usual applause and acceptance." In February he issued a pamphlet on the subject, which treated of the passing of Highland estates into the hands of Southrons indifferent to the peasant population ; of eviction and expatriation of farm added to farm; of clearance for deer- forests and pasture-land. Letters to newspapers and a constant correspondence with proprietors, factors, farmers, crofters followed, and kept the matter well to the front, increasing his store of material for the 1)00k which wound up his public action in the cause.

But Greek pronunciation and the restoration of St Giles' Cathedral gave him relief from his more insistent. labours. Dean Stanley sent him playful post-cards on both, writing on February 6, 1880, from Westminster

"In accents sweet I fain would greet
The bold restorer of Hellenic laughter.
All hail Pall Mall, And Max as well I
All hail that shall subdue the 'Times' hereafter."


On the 27th of the same month came a stanza on St Giles' :-

What shall we say when grim St Giles'
Is beautiful through all his aisles?
When now no longer any dread is
Of 'lugs' beset by Jenny Geddes.
Instead of Law?, I find to please
My weary soul good Cameron Lees.
Instead of Claverhouse's rack, I
Salute the genial convert Mackie."

The "genial convert" was at Taymouth when this was written, basking in the smiles of great ladies there, and marching up and down the avenue while he meditated o' mornings.

He was due in London to give a lecture at the Royal Institution on the last Friday of April, and left about the 23d to spend a few days with Mr and Mrs Macmillan at Tooting, and to discuss with the former the publication of a revised edition of his old translation of 'Faust.' This recast was not yet completed, but he received hearty encouragement to go oil it. After four days he left Knapdale for Laleham in Clapham Park, where he was much fited by the "wingless angels" to whom he lectured on Greek myths, and in whose albums he wrote wise maxims for their guidance in life. He ended with a sonnet, afterwards included in 'Messis Vite,' and beginning—

Beautiful Laleham! of most lovely things
pure Named with few lovelier, and of things most
With purest ;-

which remains an honoured script in the archives of the school.

His lecture at the Royal Institution was on "Gaelic," and it was warmly received. While he was in Clapham Park he gave up some time to reading the story of the "Clapham Sects," and visited the sites sacred to its members. Afterwards he went to stay with Mr and Mrs Archer in their new home in Cromwell Place for a week, interrupted by two (lays at Mentmore with Lord and Lady Roseberv, which latter deserve a word of quotation. He wrote thence on May 3

Here I am iii the central hail of a wonderful Italian sort of house, or rather palace : all full of pillars and porticoes, and gold and glass, and Venetian velvet and French Gobelins, and clear outlook into the undulant greenery of this soft and luxuriant country. I arrived in time for an eight o'clock dinner; party small and snug, little more than family,—Mr Hayward, the pose translator of 'Faust,' and Mr Dasent, the 'Norseman, whom all the world knows ; conversation full of political anecdotes and English chaff. After dinner the Countess sang "Auld Robin. Gray" with great force and taste; another lady was Miss Gladstone, who is a very nice young lady, with all her mother's nature and motherliness breaking out constantly in sweet smiles on her face. I gave her a present of my 'Lays of the Highlands and Islands,' a copy of which I had in my portmanteau, with the simple inscription "To Mary Gladstone." I love her honest face so much. This morning the house has almost wholly swarmed off to the Metropolis, leaving me with the Baby Sybil, a wonderful production with large blue eyes and serene temper.

Oxford came next, and a supper given by the Scotch students of Balliol, with "plenty of good songs" and applause. "No professor there but Sayce." This redeemed the inanity of his stay, for he never breathed the academic air as one provided with the academic lungs, and he went off with a glad heart to stay at Birdsall with Lord and Lady Middleton. This visit was an unalloyed refreshment.

The people here are irresistibly nice, the most 6harining simplicity, grace, and frankness - English culture and Celtic sentiment mingled in the most happy and harmonious way. Besides our hostess, we have Miss Gordon Cumming, as lively as a sunlit waterfall, and flexile in thought and sentiment as a young osier-twig. The Lady is not only a poem herself but a poetess. In her company you feel as if you were in a flower-garden where all the flowers speak.

A lecture in Sheffield closed the campaign, and he returned to Edinburgh about May 16. He and Mrs Blackie were minded to quit the house in Hill Street, and to seek a brighter and fresher home. But he contemplated the change with a pang of regret. Mrs Blackie was at Wemyss Bay with Mrs D. O. Hill, and he wrote to her on May 17 :-

Here I am in my old house, my old house, small and shabby though it be; my old house, my old house is just the proper thing for me!

One can imagine how he looked at his book-lined walls, and foreknew the reckless confusion which the transference would make of their perfect orderliness.

He sat to Monsieur Richeton for all etching during these days in Edinburgh, and began to correct the proofs of 'Faust,' submitting them later to Dr Walter C. Smith for revision. Then he went to Altnacraig, but had to return in June for the funeral of his friend and pastor's wife. Another of the inner and beloved circle of friends passed away the same month, the "Little Lady," whose life is still a hallowed memory in Tobermory, Miss Henrietta Bird.

He went back to Altnacraig in time for a visit from Professor (now Sir Archibald Geikie, greatly enjoyed, as it revived his dormant interest in the advancing science of geology.

During August the writer was a guest at Altnacraig, and has many memories to relate of the visit. Five weeks sped with but three clays of rain, and the glory of the West Highlands in that spell of sunshine cannot be forgotten. An Italian visitor, sent by Signor Minghetti, announced one day at lunch that in his forthcoming volume, on the working of the poor law in Great Britain, he meant to recommend the climate of Scotland to his compatriots as more invigorating than that of Italy, and equally, sunny. The party listened in a silence compounded of Scottish loyalty and blank surprise.

Early in the month, Mr Patterson of the 'Globe' and Miss Pipe being the other visitors, we went for a three days excursion to Iona, find- ilig quarters at the Columba Inn, thanks to the kindness of two artists, who generously gave U their bedrooms, and contented themselves with sofas in the parlour. The Professor knew every creek and undulation of the island, and led the explorers, with Adamnan's records and the Duke of Argyll's book for further help, w1.ile the red Ross of Mull, the dark-blue sea, and the green banks of the sacred spot filled the scene with sunny colour.

About the last week of August Miss Flora Stevenson, the "Shirra," and Professor Robertson Smith joined the circle and enriched its tranquillity with their presence, their talk, and their songs. Perhaps no week of the summer was more interesting than that, when the afternoons were spent in boating, or on the heathery heights; when the sunsets drew all to the seat on the cliff; when the nights were closed with song or psalm, Sheriff Nicolson delighting us ever anew with his own Skye songs, surely the most human ever sung

"Reared in those dwellings have brave ones been
Brave ones are still there.
Forth from their darkness on Sundays
I've seen Coming pure linen,
And like the linen the souls were clean
Of them that wore it.

See that thou kindly use them,
O man To whom God giveth
Stewardship over them, in thy short span,
Not for thy pleasure
Woe be to them who choose for a clan
Four-footed people!

Blessings be with you both now and aye,
Dear human creatures
Yours is the love that no gold can buy,
Nor time can wither.
Peace be to thee and thy children,
O Skye I Dearest of islands!"

And the other, and earlier, which ended:

"Pleasant it is to be here,
With friends ill company,
But I would fly to the Isle of Skye
To-morrow if I were free:
Dunedin is queenly and fair—
None feels it more than I—
But ill prime of the summer time,
Give me the Isle of Skye:"

One Sunday evening, when the flush had faded from the sea and the moon was high, the whole party sat on the cliff in the soft and heather- scented air, while the Sheriff led psalm after psalm,—"The heav'ns God's glory do declare;" The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want; One thing I of the Lord desired;" "Now Israel may say, and that truly;" and "All people that on earth do dwell." Now three of them sing in the courts above—Alexander Nicolson, Dr Robertson Smith, and the old Professor; but their voices were then already well known in heaven.

When the party broke UI) in the early days of September, and a remnant of four was left, it fell out one afternoon that Mrs Blackie and the writer, sitting on a garden seat, noted a weary wayfarer with dusty boots open the little gate and climb up the footpath. He wore a soft wide- awake and grey clothes, and displayed no badge of saintship nor lantern of philosophy. "A dominie for Pro.," said Mrs Blackie. The Professor's voice was ringing out from the open window of his turret study, laden with soft Gaelic gutturals. It ceased, and the dominie stood under the porch. A few minutes passed, and Bella came flying to the garden seat. "Please, mum, it's Mr Herbert Spencer in the drawing-room, and the Professor is not to be found." He had closed his book and gone by the back-door to breathe on the "sublime heights" before dinner. Trembling with responsibility, we faced the illustrious visitor, who restored our composure by abusing the Highlands, libelling the innkeepers, and accusing our sex of bribing porters with threepenny-bits, and so compassing every railway disaster ever recorded. With some indignation we flung our gauntlet in the face of the "father of modern philosophy," and it is to be feared that he fled from such unwonted treatment. "This has been a very stormy interview," he said, and took his leave. And just afterwards, returning from his walk, the Professor missed his visit.

He found secret hoards of white heather on the moors, and brought its sprays home for all. One lovely branch he sent that summer to Mr Gladstone, who was ill, and who enjoyed the gift, and the Gaelic motto, "Hard as the heather and strong as the fir," which went with it.

The second edition of 'Faust' was published about the end of September, and a copy went to the Premier, who wrote from Whitehall on October 9 :

Of the spirit and power of the rendering I can entertain no doubt it moves with the force and flow of an original work. . . . I feel the immense, the overmastering power of Goethe; but with such limited knowledge as I have of his work, I am unable to answer the question whether he has or has not been an evil genius of humanity.

The Professor was still engaged on the Land question, and letters from indignant proprietors form part of the many which he received this year. He sent a kind of manifesto on the subject to the 'Scotsman' in November, and utilised the protest and response which it excited.

The year 1881 began with an interesting request from Professor Vaña of Prague University, to be allowed to translate 'Self-Culture into the Tsheque language, that it might be added to the borrowed literature of a country whose native literature the Jesuits boasted to have destroyed.

Lectures on "The Covenanters" and on "The Sabbath" as celebrated in Scotland initiated the year's platform crusade. Both were carefully and seriously prepared, and were intended not merely for the platform, but for a book of 'Lay Sermons,' to be published in the autumn. The latter lecture seems to have been delivered in Glasgow, about the middle of January, on a Sunday evening, and under the auspices of the Sunday Society there. It was the ripe conclusion of a train of thought and argument started in Berlin by Neander more than half a century earlier. Its only weakness lies in the fact that while inveighing against the rigid Sabbath-keeping of Scotland, which led to the exaltation of the letter of the fourth commandment and the perversion of its spirit, he omitted to protect his position by full explanation. No man ever more earnestly kept the Sabbath-day holy, but he kept it fresh and happy also: to him the Sabbath was a delight and honourable, not a day for dull and sour demeanour, and unedifying because unreal observance. He brought his oblation willingly, and indeed joyfully, to the sanctuary, His week-day work was laid aside, and he studied all morning some passage of St Paul's Epistles, or some character in the history of the chosen people, or some time of struggle for the liberty of pure worship. Always practical and impelled to utter his thoughts, this study grew into lecture or book, and his 'Lay Sermons' are part of such results. In the afternoon he went to church, and the rest of the day he spent in kindly, social intercourse, visiting and receiving friends. But his lecture scarcely indicated to the prejudiced that for him the Sabbath was a hallowed day, and it drew upon him a violent onslaught by the Sabbatarian party for a time almost cost him his place in the Highland heart. Further afield, too, he was misunderstood, and men with whom he had no sympathy at all congratulated him on his abjuration of the Jewish Sabbath. One Sunday evening in England, when he was supping with Mr and Mrs Grant Allen, a lady expressed her delight that he approved of the Parisian or Viennese Sunday in preference to the solemn British variety. He looked at her with some severity and said, "The Sabbath is holy unto the Lord, and must be so kept." It is interesting to hear, what he did not know himself, that his words rescued her from indifference, and showed her that God is worshipped by doing His will, not by sour observance.

I wish [wrote Sheriff Nicolson] we had more men combining love of Christianity and of the Covenanters with sufficient courage to protest against the unchristian ideas and practices taught in the name of the Sinless Man, the First of Sabbath-breakers.

Mr Gladstone, writing at the end of the year, says of the 'Lay Sermons'

Many thanks for your volume. You are most seductive, for on its arrival I have read your Sermon through, of 63 pages, on the Covenanters; and the Appendix, for which I guess that Cameron, Renwick, & Co. would have given you, if they had been on the seat of judgment, a taste of the boot Me personally you hit hardest when you say (p. 347) that the Homeric deities are "radically elemental gods." I hope that if you are in London after Easter, you will come to breakfast with me in Downing Street at ten on some Thursday, when we will have a pitched battle on this subject; and you may put me in the boot if you beat, or at any rate if you silence me. Notwithstanding this pugnacious note, I am very sensible of your kindness; and I remain, most faithfully yours, W. E. GLADSTONE.

One of the 'Lay Sermons' was naturally devoted to the burning question of "Landlords and Land Laws," and its text was from Isaiah v. 8, "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth." The others were selected from a number which lie had during a long period delivered from time to time in churches and schoolrooms to young men or to mixed congregations. Some of them were given at Free St John's, others at Mr Matheson's, Mr Webster's, and Dr MacGregor's churches. Only a few of the large number were, however, included in the volume, although many of the rest have appeared in 'Good Words' and other popular journals.

An amusing letter in January 1881 recalls the constant confusion between the Professor and his friend Professor Blaikie of the Free Church College :-

Yes [wrote the latter], I spent last autumn in America, and very pleasantly. But, alas! many mistook me for you. I got some cordial handshakings for lectures on Atheism and on Culture and the like, but, on the other hand, I lost character for trying to secularise the Sabbath, which all the ungodliness of the States is sufficiently eager to do already. My wife one day overheard the following conversation in church as I appeared in the pulpit.. "It's not our Professor?" "Yes, it is Professor Mackie." " But not the distinguished one." Red-headed youths would sometinies come up and thank me for the Celtic Chair. Only yesterday a Celtic woman got a shilling from me and an old umbrella, after buttering me for what 1 had done for the Highlands. At Philadelphia a scholar called oil to controvert my views on homer, and thought I was sneaking out of an untenable position when I assured him I was not the man. The thing is beyond putting right.. We must grin and bear it.

In March Professor Blackie was far from well. The winter had been exceptionally severe, and the strain of regular and early attendance at the College had produced a series of weakening colds. His condition gave some anxiety to his friends, some of whom urged retirement from the Greek Chair upon him. It was decided that a house in Douglas Crescent should be bought; that after the summer Altnacraig should be let, and that country quarters should be of free election as the time for them came round. There is no doubt that these plans were formed with a view to his eventual retirement.

During April he was making inquiries into such Highland details as the dates of tartans and bagpipes, and was also concerned with the census of Gaelic-speaking districts, which, from a flaw in the schedules, was not expected to give correct statistics. He was one of the Edinburgh Committee for the Carlyle Memorial in May, in which month he and Mrs Blackie went to Altnacraig for their last summer there.

In June he made an exploration of Colonsay, "sacred to St Oran and Lord Colonsay," and in September he went to Pitlochry, where his friends the Archers were summering, and thence made his way to Golspie to see the Duke of Sutherland and inspect his mills at Brora. This flight northwards had another object—the study of those remarkable products of rigid religiosity and exceptional power called "The Men," whose habitat is in the northern counties of Scotland, where they wield grim influence, narrowing, depressing, and yet not without dignity and even sacredness. Dr Aird, of the Free Church manse of Creich, helped him to understand their function of seer and public censor combined.

While Professor and Mrs Blackie lingered that autumn at Altnacraig, the transference from Hill Street to 9 Douglas Crescent was effected under the management of Miss Macdonald, - during those years a trusted friend and companion,— so that on their return they stepped into a house already in partial array. The leave-taking of Altnacraig was celebrated by its own appropriate bard, as the home-coining had been by the "Little Lady." Dr Walter C. Smith, a frequent guest at Altnacraig, sang its Vale:

Fair within and without,
Meet for a sage and poet,
With the pine and birch-clad clogs about,
And the islanded sea below it
And behind it a ridgey bill,
While a stream leaps down the glen,
Where the sleepy beat of a little mill
Low Pulses now and then.


Altnacraig

Fair without, but within
Is a rarer, loftier beauty,-
Womanly grace the heart to win,
And patient doing of duty
And thoughts serene and high,
And lore of the ancient days,
And gleams of the light that cannot die,
And loving homely ways.

Without and within all fair,
The form alike and the spirit
lie, blithe and gay as the bird in the air;
She, calm in her modest merit.
Greek lightsomeness in him,
In her the grave, grand Goth,
But wedding together the ages dim
By the Christian faith in both.

. . . . . .

Farewell the sea will beat
With white foam on thy shore,
And friends will sit on the rose-crowned seat,
And talk as we did of yore
But not such talk as we
Beneath the red pines had,—
And never again would I like to see
The place where I was so glad."

Soon 9 Douglas Crescent began to wear that look which Mrs Blackie's magic touch gave to all things of her home. The view to the Firth and beyond, the sunsets over Corstorphine Hill, the sense of space and the inflow of light, reconciled her husband to the West End; and two studies sacred to himself, all lined with his books, —and supplemented by the back drawing-room when he wanted change,—completed its triumph over the old house in Hill Street.

He settled down to work with a sense of per- feet seclusion, and started the winter's warfare with a stirring letter to the 'Scotsman' of October 26 on "Evictions." He was engaged, too, as he had been all summer, with the material of 'Altavona,' a book which was meant to express all the best experience and conviction which he had collected from his sixteen seasons as a Highlander. The material was in his hands, notes of repeated visits to the islands of the west, where are the memories of clan feuds and clan fealty, of patient missionary settlement and zeal; and notes of constant inspection of every centre of interest on the Celtic mainland, historical, educational, industrial. His occupation was rather with the form which all this garnered reminiscence should take, and he was happy in choosing that of vivacious colloquy between speakers of widely differing types and views, whom he places in the centre of every scene, and associates in every experience. Highlanders, both Catholic and Presbyterian, an Oxonian churchman, and a German philosopher, and casual, local impersonations, exchange impressions, inquiries, and information on all points intimate to the Highlands; but throughout the variety the author's own personality binds the whole into one. This work occupied a year's leisure, and was published in May 1882 by Mr David Douglas.

On January 10 of the same year a dinner, which served as a kind of consecration banquet, was given to the friends made free of the new home. Dr MacGregor, Dr Walter C. Smith, and other kindly-minded divines, were of the number, and the talk ran on the personal devil, to whom the company denied the material privileges of horns, hoofs, and tail, relegating him to the world of undecorated spirits. An old lady present, whose orthodoxy dated from more dogmatic days, held up her hands in shocked remonstrance. "What!" she said, "would you deprive us of the devil?"

Shortly after this house-warming a series of colds lowered the Professor's health, and premature east winds brought on a temporary ailment of the eyes, sufficiently alarming to confine him to bed in the care of nurses and doctors. This illness lasted all February and part of March. He was practically blind during most of this time, and depended upon visitors, his willing secretaries, for all reading and writing. The daughters of his friend Mr Archer, Miss Macdonald, and the writer took it in turns to minister to these needs, while Mrs Blackie sat by him to nurse and soothe. Dr John Brown still came to see him occasionally, and Dr Bishop supplemented the rarer visits of the "beloved physician." The latter was full of cheer as ever, —cheer for others,—and his calls were the event of the sickroom. The patient brightened up at his voice. "John" and "Hans" they called each other, with the affectionate familiarity of half a century's friendship. "Here I lie, surrounded by beautiful and delightful nurses, John." "Delightful certainly, but not beautiful, Hans," till, catching sight of a lady half-hidden in the bow of a window, the doctor made a dexterous volte- face, and murmured wilily, " Beautiful indeed!"

All these weeks of suffering were borne with perfect sweetness, and even gaiety. He never complained; he took every dose and bore every lotion prescribed ; and he arranged his hours for business, sleep, and social enjoyment with the same precision that characterised him in health. From eight to nine o'clock in the evening he held a little levee, heard the news of the day, and made his comments. His brother professors came to sit with him, and brought the cream of academic gossip. In the mornings from ten to twelve he had his letters read and answered, and listened to some newspaper or hook chosen by himself. Then came lunch and sleep, and the afternoons were given to repose and meditation.

Mrs Blackie was convinced that his strength was no longer equal to his College work, but the thought of retirement was distasteful to him. His mental energy was so abounding that he could not credit a permanent failure in its bodily equivalent. But Dr Bishop was assured by the character of this illness that another session of daily strain and exposure would undermine the health preserved in equipoise by temperate habit and by method rather than by inherent vigour. He said nothing at the time, fearing to disturb his patient's convalescence by the pain of such an announcement, and reserved his opinion until the summer.

Amongst the incidents of this time testifying to the hold which Professor Blackie had upon the affections of the working classes, was a letter dated 18th February, from the Committee of the Caledonian Railway Company's employees, at whose annual entertainment he was wont to preside :-

We forward to you our heartfelt sympathy for you in your present illness, but hope and trust that a merciful Providence may soon restore you again to health and strength, and that your life may be spared for many years to come in happiness, Prosperity, and Usefulness. The community at large can badly spare so useful a member of society.

Many other bodies of men shared this sentiment. One day a cabman came up to him. Will ye shake hands, Professor?" he said; and after the ceremony, "Man, we all love ye." Mrs Blackie called him in fun "the people's John," so constant was the stream of such affectionate homage, and he esteemed it next to the love of his students.

His return to health was celebrated by a meeting of the Hellenic Society towards the end of March. By that time he was able to correct the proofs of 'Altavona,' with alterations in its genealogical matter made by Mr Skene, and in its geology by Professor Geikie. This work took up the leisure of about six weeks, and by the beginning of May he was busy with a lecture on Greek pronunciation and accent for Oxford.

On May 5 he attended his colleague Professor Cossar Ewart's inaugural lecture for the summer session. The subject was "Evolution," and the lecturer a staunch Darwinian. After the discourse the Professor asked him, "Do you preach evolution with God, or without God?" "With God, of course," replied the lecturer. "Then," said the Professor, "I have no objection to evolution. Let it go as far as it pleases; it is only another name for growth, which is the continual miraculous manifestation of divine plastic force and reasonable will of the universe."

A letter to Mrs Blackie on May 7 answers her entreaty for some modification of the indictments in 'Altavona.' "O Mrs Oke! Mrs Oke! fair words and fine fancies, dainty conceits and delicate nerves, never pulled one tooth from the devil's jaw!"

Mrs Blackie was now at Wemyss Bay Hydropathic with Mrs D. O. Hill. He started for London on May 8; had a lively journey, during which he read 100 pages of Howells' 'Foregone Conclusion,' and composed a "May Song." His bourne was Mr Archer's house, but after three days he betook himself to Oxford, where his lecture came off on the 12th, in the great hall of the museum, to an audience of "all sorts and degrees, not without a fair sprinkling of ladies." The Master of Balliol was there, and in an unlucky moment the Professor bethought him of his name as an excellent illustration:

"We do not say Jowétt, but Jówett." This innocent personality cost him the continued presence of the illustrious but sensitive don.

The people here [he wrote] are difficult to move—even in the best case wearing on their shoulders the head of a god, but having their right arm paralysed, so that their thought fails to leap into action. However, it is always good to speak the truth on the house-tops.

The sad news of Dr John Brown's death came to him on the day of this lecture. "I say nothing," he commented, "but call this the year of warning and of preparation. While we live, let us live like melt"

And here a word may be interpolated upon his attitude towards loss by death. It was sometimes said that he did not feel the death of his friends. No more undiscerning criticism was ever ventured. It is true that he put the thought of loss resolutely aside, but it was because of excess, not lack, of feeling. He was unmanned when he gave way to sorrow, and the old melancholy which had undermined the energies of his youth threatened to invade the vigour of his maturity and old age unless resisted with all the might of his philosophy. Once asked why he cared so seldom to return to Aberdeen he replied, "It is a city of dead friends —I dare not go back." And when the comrades of his lifetime died he could not speak of them, but he seemed to grow thinner and frailer for a while until their memory had taken on the radiance of the eternal hope. When the young and promising passed away he grieved with less reserve, for he never quite lost his early bewilderment at the purpose patiently prepared but unfulfilled in mortal development. His sonnet on the death of Frederick Hallard illustrates this:

Oh, name him not, nor all the shadowy host
Of lovely dead, whose memory haunts my soul
Be they as bright now as the starry pole,
For me they are not, and to me is lost
The presence of their beauty evermore
He was a youth whom to behold was joy,
Dowered with all grace of the fresh-hearted boy,
Pure as white light, and on his face he wore
A wealth of smiles to greet all kindred life.
Erect he grew, and light-plumed, like a flower,
More flushing-fair from fragrant hour to hour,
Till when there came a cruel, cruel knife
And lopped his pride. I turn my face away
Tears bring no hell) I can but work and pray.

From Oxford he returned to London, to be received into its vortex of spring distractions.

I am just returned from breakfasting with W. E. G. [he wrote on May 18]. The party was small, select, and various: Lord Houghton just returned from Egypt; Miss Swanwick, translator of Æschylus, second to Blackie!!! Toole the comedian; Mr Knowles, the editor of the 'Nineteenth Century'; and a Mr Roden Noel, a poet. The Minister was bright and eloquent, not at all like a bound man; the conversation animated—on Goethe, Carlyle, German Literature, the Thames Tunnel, Walter Scott, Wedgwood china, &c., &c. On parting, Gladstone made me a present of a Greek biography of himself, on which I caused him to write his name as a memorial.

Mr Toole has given us a delightful comment on this occasion in his ' Reminiscences,' where lie tells us that the conversation was on such high matters that he was glad to chum up with a po1iceiai on his way home, to bring himself back to the common key of life.

The Professor enjoyed his fortnight of town to the full, and then went to Painswick near Stroud to stay with Mrs Dobell, Here he wrote on May 26-

I am debating seriously with myself whether I should not stay here till you come south and fetch me back forcibly'. I was reading in Nicolson's 'Gaelic Proverbs' to-day that three things will have their own way—a hen, a pig, and a woman!!! When my private letters are published' your character will appear in its true light and the gross slander to which I am now daily exposed of deserting my pool' wife will appear in all its horrid invention.

He went to Stratford-on-Avon a few days later, and then to Coventry, whence he returned to Mrs Blackie, now established in summer quarters at Pitlochry.

'Altavoiia,' dedicated to Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, greeted his return, and its appearance involved him in much correspondence, some of which was controversial, as the matters treated in its lively chapters touched many a sensitive place. But the numberless letters did not prevent him from making his customary appearance at the July banquet in Inverness, where, we are told, he was "very fluent, energetic, and dramatic."

On returning to Pitlochry he received a letter from Dr Bishop, advising him to retire from the Greek Chair. This was written entirely on Dr Bishop's own responsibility, without consulting Mrs Blackie. The letter is dated July 17, 1882, and opens:-

Though I know that you do not approve of my tendering unasked advice, you must kindly allow me to make an exception in your case. 1 felt more than a year ago that it would be best for you to decide to resign the Chair winch you have adorned for so many years. My feeling was deepened by the experiences of last winter, and has been confirmed by your satisfactory progress since the cares of the session have been left behind. You admit yourself quite frankly that you feel the effects of age in your limbs and in various ways. You speak of preparing for the close. Now, so far as fixed public duties and work in crowded rooms, looking over examination papers, &c., 1 think that you should decide that the end has come. I feel assured that if you do so decide, you will be taking a step better calculated than any other to give you a renewed lease of life, of usefulness, and of rational pleasure. When freed from class burdens your strength will not be overtaxed. If you feel tired, volt will rest: if you feel the need of fresh air, you will seek it if you feel fit for literary work, you will be able to go on with it without compulsion or overstrain, so injurious to one of your age and strength. I should be grieved if you allowed my recommendation to depress or sadden you, and still I should wish to write with sufficient gravity and urgency to lead you to decide in accordance with my suggestion.

This letter must have pained him, and it is characteristic of his alert judgment and essential reasonableness that he accepted its advice without demur, and a few days later sent in his resignation to the University Court. "I was delighted," wrote Dr Bishop to Mrs Blackie, "when his manly reply came, so full of wisdom and promptitude." This business, amongst others, took him to Edinburgh for the last week of July. A new edition of 'Altavona' was already called for; but Mr Douglas desired to pass the book into the hands of a London firm, and Messrs Chapman & Hall undertook the issue. In the Highlands 'Altavona' had an immediate success. A touching recompense for his championship of the poor came from Skye, where the women spun and dyed the wool which was woven into a plaid for his acceptance, reaching him at Pitlochry just before he left for Edinburgh.

He received many a proof of goodwill from his colleagues of the Senatus Academicus. Early in August 1882 his resignation was in the news- papers, and from all parts of the kingdom came letters of sincere regret from his students, new and old.

You can look back with thankfulness and gladness [wrote Professor Calderwood] on the work accomplished may God give you strength for much good work in years to come, and cheer you with the joyous prospect of an eternity for serving Him.

To very many of your old students [wrote one of them] it will be a genuine sorrow to think that you have finally left the Greek class-room, for, to judge from my own experience, it was from that that platform that they were first taught to take a free, tolerant, generous view of life. Charles Lowe, the Berlin correspondent of the 'Times,' spent an evening with me last week, and first told me of your retiral. And the greatest pleasure of our meeting was the memories we were able to conjure from hours spent under the gracious influence of your genius and teaching.

It was not till October 23 that a meeting of the Senatus Academicus confirmed the retirement in the following terms:-

At this their first meeting since time acceptance by her Majesty the Queen of Professor Blackie's resignation, the Senatus Academicus resolve to express to Professor Mackie their regret that he, though one of their oldest Professors, should now be obliged by failing health to retire from the Chair of Greek in this University, which he has held with much distinction for thirty years. During that time by his numerous and brilliant performances in various branches of literature, and by the part which he has played in the social and public life of Scotland, lie has won for himself a wide renown, which has been reflected upon the University. The Senatus must specially call to mind oil the present occasion the the remarkable feat performed by Professor Blackie in collecting subscriptions through the country, which have amounted to a sum sufficient for a handsome endowment of a Chair of the Celtic Languages and Literature. Perhaps no other man but Professor Blackie could have succeeded in exciting sufficient enthusiasm in the cause to produce such a result. The Senatus record their thanks to Professor Blackie for the service thus rendered to the University, and for the legacy which lie has left to them in the shape of the Celtic Chair, of which during his lifetime he will continue to be a patron.

Two-thirds of the endowment of the Greek Chair fell to his portion as retiring pension, and this probably amounted to about one-third of its average income.

Sir Daniel Wilson, who had so strenuously helped him to win the Chair, wrote on August 17:—

Your resignation seems all event in which I may claim a special interest, while it reminds inc how time has run since those old days when I little dreamt of wandering away to spend the best years of my life beyond the Atlantic. Let me congratulate you as one who, ill laying down his armour, has the right to some honest boasting.

the first occupant of the Celtic Chair, to which Professor Donald Mackiiinoii was appointed on December 22, 1882. Professor Mackinnon has contributed a statement with regard to the Chair and his appointment so valuable that its due is full quotation as a summary and completion of the subject:-

It is difficult to say with whom the idea of founding a Celtic Chair in Scotland originated. With the Gaelic speaking people it has been a dream for many a long day, or rather night, and it found expression among them in speech and song oil occasions. Sir Walter Scott, it is understood, was much in favour of the scientific study of the Celtic tongues in our Universities. In the year 1831 all appeared in the 'Quarterly Review,' written, it is believed, by the editor, but inspired by Sir Walter Scott, reviewing a volume of Gaelic Poems published some eighteen months previously. The writer— after expressing his surprise that no Chair of Welsh existed in the English Universities, nor of Irish in Ireland—added: "But considering the enthusiastic interest which the Scotch have ever taken in the old monuments of their national existence, and the abundance of their academic apparatus for all purposes, even that (viz., the absence of an Irish or Welsh endowment) does not surprise us so much as the absence of any Gaelic endowment among their four Universities. Surely the numberless Highland and Celtic Clubs, of whose proceeding for the improvement of black cattle and the encouragement of the philabeg the newspapers are continually reminding us, might do well to set apart a tithe at least of their annual funds for an object of such unquestionable importance." About the year 1853 the late Rev. Dr M'Lauchlan, who had been settled in Edinburgh as minister of the Gaelic congregation of the Free Church a few years previously, began to teach a Gaelic class in the New College, Edinburgh. The class was taught, as a rule, every alternate session until 1880. It was primarily intended and adapted for students studying with a view to the ministry in the Highlands of Scotland, but it was open to all. I attended it myself during session 1871-72. The late Rev. Dr Cameron of Brodick taught a class on similar lines for several sessions in the Free Church College, afterwards in the University, of Glasgow. A class of the same description is, I believe, being taught at present in the Free Church College, Glasgow, by the Rev. Wm. Ross. These classes were taught during the winter months for one or two days in each week. They were open to all students free of charge. I am informed that many years ago the late Sir William Mackinnon was prepared to give a large sum of money (5000) as an endowment for this purpose. This munificent offer was somehow not taken advantage of, and Sir William, I am told, gave the money, or a portion of it, to the late Dr Duff to be used in promoting his Indian Missions.

Within the University of Edinburgh the movement which ended in the establishment of the Celtic Chair originated with a motion in the General Council of the University on the 19th April 1870. It was moved by Sheriff Nicolson, seconded by Professor Blackie, and carried unanimously—"That it is desirable that there should be a Chair of Celtic Literature and Antiquities in the University, and that it be remitted to a Committee to consider and report upon the subject." The Committee appointed at the meeting were Lord Neaves; Principal Sir Alexander Grant; Professors Blackie and Masson; Professor Macgregor, New College; Mr Taylor Tunes, Advocate; Rev. Dr Cameron; Archibald M'Neill, W.S.; Sheriff Nicolson; and myself. Other members were added from time to time, among the more prominent of whom were Lord Colousay; Lord Gordon; Cluny Macpherson of Cluny; Sir John M'Neill; E. Chisholm-Batten; Sheriff Clark of Ulva; Sir Archibald Geikie; Professor Campbell Fraser; Professor Macpherson; and Donald Beith, W.S.

Principal Sir Alexander Grant was the first Convener of the Committee. A representation was made to the University Court to take steps for the carrying out of the resolution of the General Council. The Court replied that it had no power to promote the object contemplated, which, it was added, "seems to depend for its being carried out on private munificence." This was reported to the General Council in October 1871, when Principal Grant resigned the convenership, and Professor Macgregor of the New College, Edinburgh, was appointed. The Committee under the new Convener forthwith prepared an elaborate statement advocating the claims of the Chair, and appealing for subscriptions. The endowment considered necessary was £10,000. This is, I believe, the only authoritative statement ever issued by the Committee. Several thousand copies were sent to noblemen, gentlemen, societies, and associations in Great Britain and Ireland, America, India, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. The result was disappointing. The Royal Celtic Society of Edinburgh promised a handsome subscription. During the winter of 1872-73 a conversazione was held in Edinburgh under the auspices of the Highland County Associations in the city, Lord Colonsay presiding. The proceeds of this gathering, which amounted to only a few pounds, were handed over to the Committee; and this was practically all the money gathered during the convenership of Professor Macgregor.

It was in April 1374 that Professor Blackie became Convener. Among the very first to offer him support was Mr John Mackay, now of Hereford, who guaranteed 100 guineas from the Clan Mackay. Professor Blackie issued his appeal for subscriptions from Altuacraig, Oban, in the form of a letter addressed "To the Members of the Northern Meeting," Inverness. The letter is dated September 12, 1874. Professor Blackie suggested that through the agency of associations and clubs £6000 might be raised, while £4000 might be looked for from private subscriptions. He added that he himself was prepared to give £50.

The response to this appeal was most satisfactory. Subscriptions poured in from all quarters and from all classes—from the Queen's £200 to the shillings and half-crowns contributed by Highland artisans and servant-maids throughout the whole of the British Empire and America. During the three years following, the exertions of Professor Blackie in promoting this cause were almost incredible. He hardly rested night or day. There was an occasional meeting of the committee to agree to a report, but henceforward Professor Blackie was himself committee and convener in one. In April 1875 he was able to report that £4600 were subscribed. This sum was almost doubled within the next twelve months. In April 1877 the subscriptions amounted to over £10,000, when the Professor asked for power to raise the limit to £12,000. In October 1878 he was able to report that the amount subscribed was within £300 of this sum, and he was authorised meantime to prepare the constitution of the Chair with the view to the election of a Professor. During the next two or three years he recommended from time to time that the appointment of a Professor be postponed and the funds allowed to accumulate. In April 1882 he reported that the endowment now amounted to within a fraction of £14,000, and had been handed over to the Senatus to constitute the Chair; and in October he reported as follows: "I crave liberty to state for the information of all concerned that the Celtic Chair is now in the hands of the University, and that I understand a meeting of the Curators will forthwith take place for proceeding to elect a Professor with the customary intimations."

The Committee was thereupon discharged. Professor Blackie was repeatedly thanked by the General Council, and it was resolved that during his lifetime he should be associated with the Curators in the patronage of the Chair. It was freely acknowledged by all who took an interest in this work that Professor Blackie was the only man living able to collect this endowment, which now amounts to £14,300.

The appointment of a Professor was made on December 22, 1882. The appointment was, I believe, unanimous, and it had, I understood, the cordial support of Professor Blackie. I did not enter upon my duties until the beginning of the following session. On the 7th November 1883, at a banquet and presentation in connection with the first appointment of a Celtic Professor, Professor Blackie was present, and replied in a hearty speech to the toast of "The Celtic Chair and Professor Blackie"; and on Friday the 9th November he was present with members of the Senatus and University, when my inaugural lecture was delivered. Professor Blackie laid aside £50 to be given as a prize in the class during the first two sessions of its existence. He ever showed the heartiest interest in our work, visiting the class-rooms from time to time. He was with us frequently at the closing day of the session, and was almost invariably present at the opening lecture each year. We shall not, alas! see his picturesque figure nor hear his kindly voice again.—A chuid de Phàras dha!

DON. MACKINNON.


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