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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter XXII. Recreations or an Emeritis Professor 1882 - 1887


THE ten years following his retirement were spent by Professor Blackie in an activity by no means abated, although it was more under his control. He had time for correspondence, for reading, for constant comment in the pages of newspapers and magazines on such questions as had long occupied his thoughts or anew attracted them, for writing books, for lecturing, for visiting,—and all these occupations increased upon his hands. Constantly his voice was uplifted in the old war-cries against Tory and Radical alike, ringing defiantly in the peace-loving groves of Oxford, appealing to the world in the columns of the 'Times.' Perhaps his crusades were for the time depreciated by reiteration, or by his indifference to the quality of the ears to which they were proclaimed. A more elegant propaganda might have propitiated Olympus; but his way was to deliver his message to all corners in season and out of season.

He was busy during the winter after his resignation with compiling his ' Wisdom of Goethe,' published by Messrs Blackwood & Sons early in 1883, and dedicated to his friend Dr Walter C. Smith. This little book was suggested by his experience of the failures made by many young men for want of a clear understanding of their relations to life, and he desired to bring to their notice the principles of "sound thinking and noble living" which he himself had found in Goethe's reflections. The selections were made to illuminate all the conditions of a man's environment or development, and they were prefaced with an "Estimate of the character of Goethe," partly biographical and partly apologetic.

Immediately after, he was much occupied with meditation and correspondence upon a higher theme, that of the Hegelian conception of the Divine Being, and this led his attention into the various channels of religious doctrine. On that of Calvinism he corresponded with his neighbour Professor Blaikie. No aspect of religious thought was more distasteful to him, in spite of his patriotic pride in the men whose rugged Calvinism strengthened them to heroic defence of their religious liberty. He could not be got to admit that he was a sinner. He protested that he was nothing of the sort. He detested the coarser forms of sin, his charity was known of all men, his sincerity and courage were unassailable, and he rather claimed for virtue such bluntness, inconsiderateness, and self-assertion as constituted his admitted failings. To him they were part of the panoply with which Providence had armed him for the battle of life. It was, however, as a protest against the grovelling confessions of sin peculiar to sectarian Calvinists, which failed to stimulate the sinner to walk uprightly, and were apt to coexist with ways entirely consonant with their admissions, that he emphasised this view of his own exemption. He abhorred, as all sane men must abhor, cant, exaggeration, and censoriousness.

This winter was brightened to both Professor and Mrs Blackie by the presence of a lively guest, the son of Mr James Archer and the Professor's name-child. Jack Archer spent six months with them, attending the College classes, and bringing the wholesome influences of youth into their home.

The Professor was at Dalmeny when Lord Rosebery's second son was christened, on January 22, and at the luncheon afterwards "the champagne was poured out of an enormous beaker, into which three dozen bottles had been emptied, leaving two-thirds of the hollow unfilled! The health of the boy was proposed, and that of the host and hostess." He fired off the appropriate sonnet at the banquet.

In March he was upholding the rights of Skye Crofters in the 'Scotsman,' which attacked him more so, and whose personalities he ignored. The Crofters' Commission was appointed in the spring, and he was keenly interested in its members and plan of inquiry. The chairman, Lord Napier and Ettrick, he esteemed highly, and he was pleased that Sheriff Nicolson, a leal son of Skye, was included in the membership.

Towards the end of May he went to London, staying with his brother-in-law, Dr George Wyld, for a fortnight. A breakfast with Mr Gladstone on May, 31, not described in detail, and some Homeric theatricals at Lady Freake's, were his chief social experiences.

In his study of the Land Laws affecting various parts of the kingdom, he had become interested in their development in the Channel Islands, and accepted an invitation to stay in Jersey with his friend the Rev. Dr Nicolson, who wished him to give a lecture at St Heliers on behalf of the organ fund for the Presbyterian Church there. He started for the island on June 8, and spent nearly three weeks exploring and enjoying this new field, delighted with all he learned, and commemorating in his letters the "Flowers, Fruit, and Friendship" for which Jersey is renowned. His lecture came off on 21. Its subject was "The Highlanders," and he illustrated it with song and recitation. The Governor was present and made a most sympathetic speech, and the proceeds handed to the organ fund were £14. The famous "kail-runt" was bought a day or two before the lecture. He summed up the sevenfold interests of Jersey as "Potatoes, Cows, Cabbages, Crabs, Oysters, the Norman - French Language, and its Land-tenure," and strung his "Praise of Jersey" into rhyme to be sold for the benefit of the organ. Every morning he studied the history and economy of the island; after lunch he explored, and the evenings were spent in making a crowd of new acquaintances. When he left on June 25, the pier was crowded with friends to bid him farewell. "A whole bevy of handsome young ladies were on the pier waiting to smile sadly and sweetly on the old gentleman as he left their lovely isle."

Perhaps the most interesting excursion which he made during this time was to a little village inland, where his half-brother Gregory had died many years before, and in whose churchyard he had been buried.

On his return to town, he stayed—where he felt most at home—with his friends Mr and Mrs Archer. A host of engagements awaited him, new acquaintances to make, amongst them Sir Edwin Arnold; old friends to visit, amongst them Mr Froude and Mr Browning. On June 30 he lunched with the latter.

He was frank and free and full of talk; altogether an agreeable, rational, intelligent, sound-headed and sound- hearted man; with no poetical or other nonsense about him; a manly, hard-hitting Englishman, as in his most effective work he certainly appears.

A week later the two exchanged photographs.

A visit to Westminster Abbey brought him face to face with his ignorance of the early kings and queens of England, and in the midst of the season's diversions he set himself to read of their lives and vicissitudes. A quotation from his letter of July 6 speaks of a call on "Tyndall and his lady. We had a fine flow of hock and a more genial interflow of soul; and I am going back again, so much have we learned to love one another—not at all easy in this big Bustledom."

He was weary of London "crushes, vain, uncomfortable, glittering parades."

A dinner at Lord Rosebery's took place on the 10th.

An old lady with tremendous bushy curls of a ruddy tinge was before me, who turned out to be Lady Aries- bury. At dinner, in a room resplendent with silver, I sat beside a laughing, rattling girl from Vienna, dealing in the light, negative badinage that is current amongst idle people in fashionable circles. I told her she ought to study Goethe, and not to delight in nonsense, however clever, and we parted on perfectly good terms, exchanged cards and mottoes; hers, what you might have expected, something to the tune of "Is life worth living?" which, whosoever asks, being of sound liver, ought in my opinion to be shot.

A few days later he returned to Scotland, and spent all August with Mrs Blackie at St Boswells. There he occupied his morning hours with renewed study of the Land Laws, and that from both points of view, as his correspondence with large landed proprietors indicates. Macmillan had accepted an article on Jersey for the October number of his Magazine, and this was part of his summer work. He was anxious to extend his studies to Ireland, and an invitation to visit Professor and Mrs Butcher at Killarney gave him the opportunity of partially doing so on Irish soil. He returned to Edinburgh early in September to prepare for this, and spent a few, days at Douglas Crescent, collecting books on the subject, correcting proofs, and amongst other things at- tending a midnight banquet on the occasion of the opening of the Edinburgh Lyceum.

I supped at 12.30, and returned from the banquet at 4 A.M., very much surprised to find myself toddling home at that hour of the morning, and going to bed when the rest of the world had finished their first sleep. it was very pleasant, Henry Irving altogether natural and agreeable and gentlemanly. The speaking was short and good, and the songs excellent. Howard, who was in the chair, asked me to propose the health of Miss Ellen Terry; but I, with my usual good sense, devolved the matter on the Dean of Faculty, who knew something about the girl, of whom I knew only a trifle more than nothing. however, I didn't escape altogether, so at 3.30 in the morning I sang "March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale with great applause. Wyndlmamn the elder was there, looking, as usual, like a well-dressed, well-combed, and well-brushed Eton boy with smooth and bright cheeks.

He recovered from this nocturne in a twelve hours' sleep on board the Dublin boat, and reached his destination on the 12th September. Here he gave himself up to study of the new Land Acts for a week, and then drove to Kenmare to stay with Mr and Mrs Trench, his hosts on a former visit; and from Kenmare he went to Dromore Castle, where he had an opportunity of attending a meeting of the Land Commissioners' Court. All he saw confirmed his earlier impressions, but he found the "oppressors" very kindly hosts. His wanderings took him into Galway, and he did not leave Ireland till the 10th of October.

Several important matters awaited his return. Lord. Napier and Ettrick, in a letter dated July 8, had written :-

I hope you will give the Crofters' Commission an opportunity of hearing you. On a subject to which you have de- voted so much pains and so much love. Perhaps you will attend its in Edinburgh by-and-by. I think of engaging the room at the Parliament House in which the Scotch Privy Council administered the Question, if it still exists I fear it does not, or they may have met in the Tolbooth; but, at any rate, you will be prepared to give an account of the faith that is in you—especially as to the evidence of that consuetudinary right in the soil which you discover in the humble clansmen of the past I am, at least, one who earnestly desires that the benefits and enjoyments of property should be more widely diffused among our countrymen than has hitherto been the case, believing that there is no greater evil in a State than indigent intelligence.

The Professor's evidence, or rather opinion, was given with much vivacity on October 24.

Another concern was the election of a Lord Rector for the University of Edinburgh. This election was wont to be conducted on political party lines, and the chosen candidates of the two parties were Sir Stafford Northcote and Mr Trevelyan. A few of the students desired to break the record of purely political elections, and requested Professor Blackie to stand as an independent candidate. However admirable their motive, it was regrettable that he acceded to this request, as party spirit amongst the students was too strong to make his success possible, and he was exposed not only to the reckless personalities of such an occasion, but to inevitable defeat, and even to the accusation of having injured the chance of the Liberal candidate. Sir Stafford Northcote was elected, and made, as all know who saw and heard him during the Tercentenary functions of the following spring, a dignified and charming representative of the University.

The year ended with a lecturing tour on the subject of the Crofters and the Land Laws. When he expounded the matter at St Andrews, the Professors prudently abstained from attendance The year 1884 was devoted, like its predecessors, to the same question, and this study culminated towards its close in the publication of his book entitled 'The Scottish Highlanders and the Land Laws,' and dedicated to Mr John Bright.

His lecturing crusade began in January at Manchester, where he preached "the gospel of just and fair laws," demanding, "Is Mammon or Jehovah henceforth to be supremely worshipped in this land?"

Here he called on the Bishop of Manchester, a fine, well-built, hearty, healthy, and rosy Scot : quite a blessing to the city, and respected by all parties, except of course a few ceremonialists, who prefer the dress of the Church on all occasions to the soul of the Church."

From Manchester he went to Birkenhead, to stay with his nephew, and to speak at the annual meeting of Mrs Birt's "Sheltering Home for Destitute Children."

To go into the streets of such a place as Liverpool [he ended], look upon the castaway weeds of humanity, pluck them up, nurse them, put them into greenhouses, that is a reverence which only those can practise who live in the most purified atmosphere of the highest Christianity.

The months of early spring passed in writing his forthcoming book, and in corresponding with members of Parliament, with landlords and others, on the two subjects of Education in the Highlands and the Land Laws.

On the 16th, 17th, and 18th of April 1885 he was engaged with all the Edinburgh world in receiving and entertaining the University's guests from all parts of Europe. Professor Donner from Helsingfors stayed with him during that mernorable celebration of the Tercentenary, whose lions were Robert Browning, Virchow, Pasteur, and Count Aurelio Saffi.

The Professor liked his guest cordially, and approved his book on 'Scottish Families in Finland and Sweden.' Another friend made and entertained was M. Emile Laveleye, the Belgian statesman, who died recently. The Professor contributed to the imposing service in St Giles', which inaugurated the celebration, his own beautiful Hymn of Praise.

Towards the middle of May he was busy reading the Report issued by the chairman of the Crofters' Commission, with hearty appreciation of the evidence collected, and some demur at its apologetic tone otherwise. On May 24 he went to London to stay with Mr and Mrs Archer. His first object was to secure a publisher for the 'Scottish Highlanders,' in which he had some difficulty; but eventually Messrs Chapman & Hall, who had brought out a third edition of 'Altavona,' undertook to be its sponsors.

For three weeks of his stay in town he avoided society, and refreshed his mind by reading the history of Whitehall, the Temple, and the Tower, making frequent visits to each, and getting their significance well fixed in his memory, as he had done that of Westminster Abbey the year before. A touch of apprehension dictated this mood. He wrote on 29 :

I am making very few calls, as I am determined for some time to be master of my movements and do some effective work while I am here, and surrounded by grand and gracious influences. God knows how soon I may be cramped and cradled into imbecility.

He made two new acquaintances in the early part of June, both of whom interested him greatly. One was Ni Frederic Harrison, and the other Mr R. F. Horton of Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead. The latter he learned to know while spending a few days with his sister, Mrs Kennedy, in Hampstead. On June 8 he went to Lyndhurst Road Church, " and heard the young prophet Horton, a prophet indeed learning and force and polish and poetry and sense combined; the finest thing I have yet set my eyes oil London ; a mail going a thousand miles to hear." After the service he went to see the preacher in the vestry, and somewhat startled him by kissing him, German fashion, on both cheeks. The acquaintance ripened into hearty mutual regard, and was renewed from year to year.

A meeting of the Celtic Society, where he spoke on the Land Laws; a boating expedition with Mr and Mrs Holman Hunt; a visit to Mr Hunt's studio to see the "Triumph of the Innocents"; a lecture by George MacDonald on "Wordsworth," when the Professor preached a counteracting gospel according to Goethe; a reception and breakfast at the Premier's, and many other interesting matters, occupied his time after the middle of June.

On the 28th he heard the debate in Parliament on the Crofters' Commissioners' Report, and was by no means satisfied with its tone. On the 30th he spoke at a great meeting in the city organised to draw attention to the matter; and early in July he quitted the season's distractions for Scotland, and joined Mrs Blackie at Peebles. Here he took to the History of the Borders, and to walks no longer so extended as formerly; and on August 9 he went by train to Oban, there to join Mr M'Farlane and his family on board the Santa Maria, and to spend a delightful fortnight amongst the islands and lochs in a kind of private crofter inquiry cruise. He spoke at meetings, prepared or improvised, at Portree, Stornoway, and elsewhere; visited the place where the fences were pulled down on August 13; indulged in much sympathetic "sedition," and bade his host adieu on the 25th with real regret.

He was iii Edinburgh for a few days, but returned to the North on September 2 for a round of meetings and visits, amongst the latter to Dunrobin, Conan House, and Glen Tana He profited by these to gain information from the proprietor's as well as from the crofter's point of view. His book was now well forward, and on his return to Edinburgh the manuscript was despatched to Messrs Chapman & Hall.

The most interesting incident of October was his election as a member of the Executive Committee for establishing a British School of Archeology in Athens. In November Mr Horton was in Edinburgh lecturing at the Philosophical Institution, and dined with Professor and Mrs Blackie. The concluding weeks of 1884 were employed in lecturing tours, first in Scotland, and then at Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, -on Burns, on the Land Laws, and on "Beauty in Nature and Art." What leisure he had was occupied in correcting proofs, and in writing on the philosophy of language.

At the end of the year he received the first copies of 'The Scottish Highlanders and the Land Laws,' and despatched the dedication volume to Mr John Bright about Christmas. Mr Bright wrote after its perusal:

The whole story of the past and present of the crofter class is not a little one of a melancholy character, and their future is not easily perceived. Land which is not fertile and a climate most uncertain offer little promise of prosperity or of ordinary comfort to the people, and any possible changes in the law will, I fear, not bring about the improvement which you and I so much wish for. Whether any real good is done or not, you have laid the case before the country in a book of much interest. I have to thank you for the kind words in which you have connected my name with your labours on behalf of your suffering people.

Letters poured in from readers of the book who were on either side of the Crofter question. All agreed in acknowledging the vigour with which it was written, the range of study which formed its foundation. The latter has been indicated at the various times to which each branch belonged. He summed it up in the Preface as follows:-

It became manifest to me that the special evils under which the Highlanders groaned were no isolated phenomenon, but were merely the natural result of a general one- sided and unjust body of Land Laws, of which the operation in the remote Highlands, as in Ireland, had been intensified by local peculiarities. I was accordingly forced to widen the sphere of my studies, and to inquire systematically into the rural economics and agrarian legislation in various countries of Europe, for the purpose of contrast and comparison. Once put upon this scent, I found, by reaching and by observation made on the spot, ample materials for important inductions in Lome, in Florence, in Germany, and in the Channel Islands. I then read all the books and pamphlets I could procure on rural economy and on the Land Laws, both from the legal and the economical point of view; and I crowned my studies with a careful perusal of the Report of the late Royal Commission on the condition of the crofters and cottars in the highlands and Islands.

An interesting feature of the book is the Testimonia Sapienturn, which follows the Preface, and which records the convictions of the wise of all ages, from Job and Aristotle to St Paul, Shakespeare, Laveleve, and Sismondi, on the tyranny of land monopolists. The book is divided into three parts—the Scottish Highlanders, the Land Laws, and the Crofters' Commission. Its treatment of each is forcible and instructive. Perhaps the whole loses interest from a certain discursiveness, which had become a mental habit, due to overmuch lecturing; but it remains a valuable contribution to informative literature on the subjects with which it deals.

Early in 1885 Altnacraig was let for a lease of five years, subsequently extended, which relieved Professor and Mrs Blackie from expense and anxiety regarding their West Highland home. The first quarter of the new year was devoted to activities become normal —lectures, speeches as chairman of meetings, usually those of working men, and articles for magazines. It is impossible to overtake them all, and their record would be but dull reiteration—not that they were dull, but that they resembled each other, and followed in each other's wake. Two articles contributed to the Pupil -Teachers' Monthly' deserve notice, however, as in them he reopened his campaign on the learning and teaching of languages prosecuted through his remaining years, and sharing their devotion with the pronunciation of Greek and the gospel of a Scottish Scotland. In these articles he advocated, as of old, the living practice of the tongue and the ear in acquiring a language, as taught by the method of nature; and the further cultivation of each language philologically.

From the first of May to the middle of June he was in and about London as usual, returning to Edinburgh by Oxford and Liverpool. This holiday was more given up to personal enjoyment than even formerly, and it is needless to repeat the tale of its visits and banquets. The most interesting of the former was a stay with Lord Lytton at Knebworth, which he described in a letter dated June 10:

I never was in such a grand house or slept in such a grand bed. The bedroom was wonderful for a poor Scotch professor - all panelled and carved, and studded with various armorial bearings and rare old portraits, including Edmund Spenser. The room was called Hampden's room, from some old tradition of his lodging here. Somehow the Earl has a great notion of the Pro., saying that I had taught him long ago the proper method of studying Greek, and that my translation of Ęschylus is the only one that contains real poetry. Perhaps this is true, and, at all events, is very agreeable to Oldie. In the drawing- room, by particular request, I sang the "Quaker's Wife" and the "Bonnie House o' Airlie," and this morning I wrote a poem in the guest-book.

"Oldie" was a domestic rendering of the old Adam. In Oxford he staved with Mr and Mrs Ritchie, and was made much of.

The summer was spent in various places—Yarrow, Peebles, Dumfriesshire—and in autumn he was back in Douglas Crescent, preparing lectures, contributing to-Air Reid's 'Why I am a Liberal,' and writing in the 'Scotsman' on a burning subject, the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland. His attitude towards this question is constantly misrepresented. He had no sympathy with the Disestablishment party. Their reasons did not seem to him to he of importance, and he deemed the Church of Scotland associated in the national life with the preservation of the national liberties. Had there been in that Church the menace to Protestantism which has appeared in the Anglican system, no one would have more stoutly demanded its destruction as an organisation. He admitted that the Church of God has nothing to do with externals, and that even were the Scottish Church deprived of its loaves and fishes, it would survive, a spiritual body. But it displeased him that there should be an outcry against an institution which presented a noble front to the world of workers for the truth.

In November he lectured at Kelso on Goethe to an enthusiastic audience, going thence to Airdrie on a like errand. When he returned to Edinburgh, it was to resume a study of the lessons taught by history concerning the connection between Church and State, on which he lectured twice in December to the members of the Philosophical Institution. These lectures were published by Messrs Macmillan in England, and by Messrs Scribner in America, in the form of a small volume entitled What does History Teach?'

Impartial history [he sums up] offers no countenance to the notion that Established Churches, when well flanked by dissent, and in an age when the spiritual ruler has ceased to make the arm of the State the tool of intolerance, are contrary either to piety or policy. Christianity, of course, stands in no need of an Established Church; religion existed three hundred years in the Church without any State connection, and may exist again; but Christianity does above all things abhor the stirring up of strife betwixt Church and Church from motives of jealousy, envy, or greed.

Perhaps the "impartial history" is too profoundly complicated to be mastered in a study of some four months' duration.

He turned from the subject with relief to the preparation of notes on "Scottish Song," on "Jacobite Songs," and on "Robert Burns," and spent three weeks of January 1886 in an English lecturing tour—at Leicester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Kendal, Carlisle, and Newcastle—from which he returned triumphantly on January 28. In February he lectured in Edinburgh on "Scottish Song." It was about this time that he made the acquaintance of our delightful Scottish singer Madame Annie Grey, and a hearty friendship ensued between the two staunch patriots. It was Professor Blackie's influence which strengthened Madame Annie Grey's devotion to Scottish song, and led her to sacrifice all openings in other directions. It became a habit for both to co-operate several times a year—the Professor as lecturer and Madame Grey as illustrator—in expounding to Scottish audiences the infinite range and charm of their native music.

A correspondence with Mr Ruskin on kingship, virginal womanhood, household womanhood, and good workmanship, made the early months of this year interesting. The Professor sent him his little book on Church and State, acknowledged as "wise and helpful."

An event which gave him great pleasure was the appointment of his valued friend and old student, Dr Donaldson, to be Principal of the University of St Andrews. He was busy, too, with an enthusiastic review of Sir Theodore Martin's translation of 'Faust' for the 'Nineteenth Century,' as well as with a correspondence concerning Greek accents as illustrated by ancient writers on music, with Professor Monro, who agreed with him that the accents had been put to indicate a certain amount of emphasis, although he doubted whether it was given with more force than in French, endorsing his opinion with the testimony that accentual poetry is common in modern but not in ancient Greek.

During this winter the Professor had shown some hospitality to two Greek students from Smyrna, Constantine and Elias Simitopoulos, with the pleasant consequences of a warm acknowledgment from their family, accompanied by gifts of honey, sweetmeats, and little antique figures. In Greece, and wherever modern Greeks resided, his name was become a household word. Many years had elapsed since his first efforts to reinstate modern Greek in its true heredity had been welcomed in Athens, and all his utterances oil subject were eagerly pitl1ishecl and perused there, so that during' the last score of his years he received constant acknowledgments from Greeks of their gratitude and veneration, and these were amongst the most valued of the tributes showered upon him.

Towards the end of May he went to London to stay with the Archers. He had selected from the overflow of his songs and sonnets a certain number for publication. These he called 'Messis Vite,' or 'Gleanings from a Happy Life,' because they included the expression of his cheerful and reverent wisdom, as well as allusion to the many persons who had made life interesting to him, and the Scottish "traditions, shrines, and melodies," to the celebration of which he was increasingly devoted. He dedicated the volume" To the Students of the Scottish Universities," because "there is not a little in it that owed its inspiration to the contagion of fresh young minds, and to the leisure for cultivating the Muse afforded me by the usage of what, in Scotland at least, I cannot but regard as the happiest of all human avocations, the profession of an Academical teacher." Messrs Macmillan accepted the book, and it was published in October.

His publisher secured, he set himself to drain the cup of London enjoyment, as he liked it, mixed with pleasure and profit in due proportion. He was present in the House of Commons on that eventful 1st of June when Mr Gladstone's Irish Bill was rejected, and made the acquaintance of many members, whom he sought to interest in his new war-cry of "Home Rule for Scotland." It is characteristic that as the pleasant dream of restoring a Parliament in Edinburgh more and more bedazzled his patriotic imagination, he deserted the Irish cause and became a notable Unionist.

The Colonial and Indian Exhibition was a feature of that season, and interested him far more than the preceding displays. He visited it some twelve times. He saw 'Faust' from the gallery of the Lyceum, but found its presentment of the great story distorted. He made a study of the National Gallery with his usual energy. Amongst social doings, a luncheon-party with Lord Rosebery best merits allusion. He described it in a letter written on June 7 :-

We had a very pleasant party at Lansdowne House last Saturday. A little circular parlour with a dome above, and a little round table in the middle with a few chosen guests, numbering eight in all, including mine host and hostess; Lord and Lady Aberdeen; Ferguson of Novar, a square -browed Scot with a bright open face; Drummond, the scientific religiomst of the hour, tall and handsome; Villiers of the Foreign Office, and Calcraft of the Board of Trade.

Three weeks of town proved enough, and he got home in time to snatch a glimpse of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was that summer in Scotland.

Mrs }3lackie and he made Moffat their summer quarters, and this set him once more on the track of the Covenanters, his gleanings from local sites and traditions being utilised in a lecture on "Scottish Nationality" delivered in August to a Moffat audience. This, a special lecture devoted to Peden the Prophet, and the series on Scottish songs, served for three autumn campaigns—two of them in England, one in Forfarshire. He found local singers in most places, who helped to illustrate his musical discourses: on one occasion that year, when he was lecturing at Renton on the Jacobites, the chairman proved equal to "Cain' ye by Athole" and "The wee German Lairdie."

An interesting guest was with him towards the end of the year, Prince Krapotkin, staying during the fortnight necessary for his appearances at the Philosophical Institution. His host was absent in Yorkshire for part of this time, being much lionised, from which fate he was glad to get home to such familiar occupations as the frequent letter to the ' Scotsman,' when an old subject budded and broke into a new blossom of thought. Thus he was denouncing the study of Latin and Greek in December, and asserting the sufficiency of any modern language both as mental exercise and as equipment for life. He certainly underrated the importance of the classics to literary style, as many a scholar proceeded to intimate by letter.

The year 1887 began with a lecture on "Burns" in Edinburgh, and with the intimation from a Rabbi in New York that his beautiful psalm—

"Angels holy,
High and lowly,"

had been included in the Jewish Hymnal there. February was made interesting by a visit from Professor Rhys, and by a prolonged correspondence with the Bishop of St Andrews on the Christian Hierarchy, a matter on which the Professor and the Prelate were by no means of one mind. Lectures and lay sermons occupied March and April, and by the end of May he was in London, his solitary journey having been tempered by the singing of Scottish songs a great part: of the way. He had new acquaintances to see—amongst them Dr A. C. Mackenzie, who set some of his ballads to music, and Miss Agnes Smith, the well-known Hellenist and traveller. Mrs Blackie was at Harrogate with a friend. His stay in town was bisected by a visit to Professor Rhys in Oxford. The first part was devoted to Loftie's 'History of London,' with verifying rambles; and the second included, amongst other festivities, a view of the Jubilee procession from the windows of the Baroness Burdett Coutts's house, when he was recognised by the crowd and cheered. A dinner at the Mansion House and a garden-party at Dollis Hill belong to the second part of his season in London. Of the latter Mr Gladstone wrote on June 19:

The constant influx of visitors prevented me from having a moment with you yesterday, except to congratulate you on your perpetual youth. I write to perform a duty and secure a pleasure. I have read your volume of poems ['Messis Vitae'], or the greater part of it, with wonder at its elasticity and freshness, and admiration of its healthy and joyous tone, as well as memory power. There are two or three iconoclastic lines on p. 16 which I am wicked enough to wish to cut out of the good company in which they stand.

The passage alluded to occurs in the sonnet called " Christ and Christendom," a noble repulse of modern show and sham, of ritualism too versus pure worship,—a protest in advance of what is becoming the test of true religion, "What would He say?"

Of the year 1887 there is little more to record. The summer was happily spent in the manse of Selkirk, and already he was reading up the life of Burns for his contribution to the "Great Writers" series, published in February of the following year.


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