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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter XXIV. Closing Years 1892 - 1895


THE home in Douglas Crescent had been bright- ened since 1800 by the presence of the Professor's nephew, Dr Stodart Walker, who filled the place of a son. But the winter began and continued with sickness and sorrow. First Mrs Blackie succumbed to influenza, then the Professor, and lastly Dr Walker.

There is a plague in the air delighting to walk in darkness [he wrote towards the end of 1891], and laying our stalwart men prostrate with a touch. It wears an Italian name, influenza, but seemingly puts forth its full vigour in a Scottish climate. Our breezy crescent here with its large outlook has not escaped the infection; my dear wife lies chained to her bed in the warm room close to the dining-room, and being under medical direction, can allow herself no freedom, as symptoms of pleuro-pneumonia have revealed themselves, which require to be carefully watched and wisely tended. As for myself, I have hitherto escaped the grasp of the fiend, for which God be thanked, and am jumping about in my usual style from east to west and from west to east, preaching the catholic gospel of philosophy, piety, poetry, and patriotism. I have sent out my first holder of the Greek Travelling Scholarship to Athens. I am happy to find my views on the study of Greek as a living language advocated by influential men in high quarters.

This letter and one immediately following were enclosed in envelopes distinguished by a Greek motto in the left-hand corner, more rarely used than the known to all his correspondents. This was "All best things are difficult," and was meant as a note of cheer to the receiver, who had begun the long task of chronicling his life.

He was getting frequent letters from Mr Andrew Brown, culminating in a series written in modern Greek. Before his turn of influenza came, he wrote his "Confession of Faith" for the 'Scotsman' of January 22 :-

Creeds and confessions! High Church or the Low!
I cannot say; but you would vastly please us
If with some pointed Scripture you could show
To which of these belonged the Saviour Jesus.
I think to all or none; not curious creeds
Or ordered forms of churchly rule He taught,
But soul of love that blossomed into deeds,
With human good and human blessing fraught.

On me nor Priest, nor Presbyter, nor Pope,
Bishop, or Dean may stamp a party name;
But Jesus, with His largely human scope,
The service of my human life may claim.
Let prideful priests do battle about creeds,
The Church is mine that does most Christ-like deeds.

It is notable how, in the last years, Goethe, Aristotle, John Knox, even the Psalmist and St Paul, became less the authorities to quote, and Christ grew more and more. "Let him look in the face of Jesus Christ" was his constant corn- merit concerning a man's character. It became the test for all kinds of conduct—in the world of politics, of business, of social life, just as much as in the world of " creeds and confessions." Both in his letters and in his talk he confessed the Lord Jesus Christ, as he had never openly done before, potent as was Christ's influence in moulding his character. And so these closing years were marked by a gentleness, tenderness, and forbearance quite distinguishable from the "equipoise" of earlier attainment.

In February, while his wife still lingered in protracted weakness,—intensified by insomnia,— the plague seized the Professor in the form of a lowering cold and cough, which put an end to the lecturing "from east to west" for that spring.

Towards the end of the month he was still enfeebled, and so depressed by the long sojourn indoors that lie would not confess he was mending. But a few days later Mrs Blackie wrote "I am glad to tell you that Pro. is every day improving in strength. He does look older, and he is feebler in walking, but his wonderful power of quiet sleeping helps him."

The interviewers were upon him this year, and the first of their illustrated casual chronicles appeared in the 'Strand Magazine' for March. It is doubtless the brightest, most spontaneous, and most sympathetic of many, and both Professor and Mrs Blackie entertained a pleasant recollection of its genial and considerate writer, Mr Harry How. It brought in its train an outbreak of requests for autographs hard to satisfy.

The turn of the tide was passed by the beginning of March, and life began to flow with accustomed pulse. On the 12th the Professor was in full cry after "Living Greek " and the Travelling Scholarship. A letter to the 'Scotsman' appeared that morning on the place of Greek in Scotland,— "a noble one, wise, patriotic, and statesmanlike," wrote Dr Donald Macleod. His fervour stormed the tardiness of the Scottish Church, and the General Assembly of the year was petitioned to secure a fund for the maintenance of the scholarship. In 1891 it had been brought for the first time to the notice of the Assembly, arid received a ready sanction on condition that the founder should himself raise the funds. That had been done for the year, and the experiment was made with unqualified success. On May 29, 1892, Dr Scott read that part of the Report which dealt with this experiment :-

It had been found that 100 of bursary provided fairly well for six months' living and study in the heart of what was most interesting in Greece, and by study and practice of the living tongue would enable the successful student to gain a hold of the language of the New Testament and of one great section of the Early Christian Fathers, which no ordinary University curriculum at home could possibly give. The Committee accordingly suggested to the Assembly to commend it afresh to the attention of devout and intelligent persons, who had it in their power to provide for the continuance of the experiment, or give permanence to the scholarship by the method of endowment.

Professor Blackie, who met with an enthusiastic reception, then addressed the Assembly on the value of the scholarship to Greek in Scotland and to theology. On this latter point he was well qualified to speak, for since his boyhood, and the memorable interview with Dr Forbes of Old Machar, he had never spent a day without reading, translating, and pondering a passage from the Greek Testament. Tie had worn out many an interleaved Testament in one volume or two, and many a tiny copy, which he kept in his pocket when travelling ; and he was justified in asserting that lie knew the Greek Testament as well as any man alive. The proceedings ended with a vote of thanks for his great services in so successfully commencing the movement.

A month earlier he had read a paper to the members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the "Development of Modern Greek," and his correspondence afterwards shows its acceptance by Greeks both in England and Athens.

The event most interesting on the domestic side of his life in the month of April was his Golden Wedding, duly celebrated on the 19th. Neither he nor Mrs Blackie was strong enough to take a leading share in the reception, but they sat side by side in the drawing-room, and the two nephews, who were as their sons, and the wife and children of one of these, contributed the active element of the home circle.

It was a bright sunny day [wrote Mrs Blackie], and the rooms looked their best, filled with the lovely colouring and scent of countless flowers. Had it not been Easter time, when so many go out of town, there would have been a crowd; as it was there was room to move about. Alec, Jatilda, Grace, and Archie represented Pro.'s family. We had tea, coffee, wedding-cake, and champagne. Augusta poured out tea, and Agnes Smith did much to allow me to remain up-stairs. Every one was nicely dressed, and they beamed on us. I felt peaceful and happy. Pro. condescended to wear his best clothes, but as soon as every one had gone, he disappeared and resumed his dressing-gown and straw hat, and seemed to breathe more freely. We dined alone, the Alecs and Archie and ourselves.

Flowers, gifts, telegrams poured in all day. Early in the afternoon the members of the Hellenic Society arrived bearing a beautiful offering in the form of a great silver bowl, of the time of George III., finely chased, and inscribed on a shield with the initials of the wedded pair, the date, and "From the Hellenic Society." It was accompanied by a congratulatory address in Greek, and by a poem written for the day by Dr Walter C. Smith

"With silken locks of silver hair,
He keeps a heart for ever young;
And underneath her graver air
There dwells a spirit pure and fair,
With thoughts high-soaring and highstrong.

Light may the years upon you lie,
Light fall their footprints on you still
And long may ye go on to ply
The generous youth with wisdom high,
A noble manhood to fulfil.

And as the days that lie behind,
Whether in shadow or in sun,
So may the rest but closer bind
Both heart to heart, and mind to mind,
Until ye perfect be in one.

And may fond memories of the past,
Sweet as the scent of clover-field,
Hover around you to the last;
While higher, holier hopes forecast
What the great future yet shall yield."

After this presentation a committee representing three hundred fellow-townsmen and old friends offered, through the Rev. Dr MacGregor of St Cuthbert's, the hearty congratulations of the larger community to one

of the most widely known and best beloved of living Scotchmen, and to the loving and noble wife under whose guidance he had reached that position. The other causes could be found in his splendid and various natural powers, his extensive scholarship, his great industry, his warm-hearted patriotism—an intense love of Scotland and all that is Scottish,—and to what they knew lay at the very root of his being—the love of righteousness and the fear of God.

This warm greeting was coupled with the hope that Professor Blackie would sit forthwith to Sir George Reid

for a living presentment of the man, as in his eighty-third year, hale, hearty, erect, he walked the streets of Edinburgh, its most familiar citizen,—the fine chiselled face, the intellectual head, the white hair, the hat and plaid,— and the walking-stick too.

The portrait of the man whom Scotland knew best as Sir George Reid has represented him was soon after begun, and in January 1893 it was finished and presented to Professor and Mrs Blackie for the term of their lives, and destined ultimately for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. An etching by Mr Huth represents it as frontispiece to this biography. When the picture itself appeared in London in the spring of 1893, it drew constant delighted recognition, and was rarely without a little crowd of onlookers.

Sir George Newnes was the recipient in May of a letter from Scotchmen in Surinam giving expression to their enjoyment of Mr Harry How's "Interview" in the 'Strand Magazine.'

I tell you [wrote Mr J. S. Blake in their name] that the account of this interview has brought tears to the eyes of many of us who have not seen him for quarter of a century—tears of joy that he is hale and healthy, and that the old ringing tones and kindly words are still to the fore. The only objection we have against the report is that it is far too short. Some of us could almost punch Mr Harry how's head for not going further and filling up the whole magazine, and this I am sure will be the verdict of Scotchmen throughout the world.

No wonder that the object of such love grew strong with the summer months; he slept peacefully at night, and awoke refreshed and fit for many things. Amongst them was a Scottish Home Rule pamphlet called 'The Union of 1707 and its Results,' written in May and published early in June. He wrote, too, a paper on John Knox for the August ' Contemporary,' the backbone of which was a string of sonnets. His share in the Scottish Home Rule agitation was undoubtedly moved by a spurt of vivid imagination, hardly backed up by careful inquiry into the real conditions of the question. A touch of romance belongs to all fervid patriotism, and while reform is an apparent necessity, he did not stop to inquire what dangers might beset the plan of reform which lie advocated. But who can wonder that he revolted against the strange insensibility of Scottish society to the worth of the Scottish character and history, and longed to restore to the scene of such heroic traditions an outward and visible dignity which should recover the respect of all.

He spent some days of June in Covenanting counties, Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire, helping to inaugurate Peden's monument at Drumclog. London was given up this year, as he and Mrs Blackie left Edinburgh for Strathspey somewhat earlier than usual. They rented a house in Kingussie for the three summer months. There, on July 28, 18921 his eighty-third birthday, Highland honours were paid to the veteran champion of the Highlanders. He had celebrated the occasion quietly at home with a luncheon -party of old friends, who gave him words of love and cheer,— arid he had read to them a poem on "Old Age," in which his glad acceptance of failing strength and fuller wisdom was expressed. He was thinking of bed, when, about 9.30, he was summoned by a deputation preceded by the piper of the Kingussie volunteers. On a hill near the town blazed a great bonfire in his honour, and when he appeared at the foot, he was seized and carried up shoulder-high by some stalwart townsmen, in spite of his protest that his own legs were still in good condition. He was set down in the midst of a large gathering. The Chief Magistrate, Mr Macpherson, in the name of all, offered him congratulations on his genial old age, and the place rang with genuine Highland cheers. The Professor in his thanks alluded to the glorious record of Highland courage, and to the infinitely greater value of the men who won victories for England than of those whose main object it was to make homes desolate that grouse and deer might accumulate for sport. The chair in which he sat was then tossed into the flames, and he was permitted to walk home escorted by his friends and preceded by the piper.

Other tributes followed—a tartan plaid specially blended for him, and a book dedicated to him by Mr Andrew Brown, who, lecturing at Montrose, had reminded his hearers that the modern Greeks were devoted to our great Phil-Hellenes past and present, and that names beloved amongst them were Byron, Gladstone, and Blackie.

The weather in August was wretched, and thwarted intended excursions; but he found compensation in Kingussie itself' where many of his friends had pitched their summer tents. He made out a visit to Laggan Manse, sacred to the memory of Mrs Grant of Laggan; and half-way through September he went to Aber- lour, to follow the Spey to its mouth with his friend Mr Findlay.

Early in October he was at home again, and was mapping out his work fbr the winter. Sittings to Sir George Reid were frequent, and lectures in the north of England and in Edinburgh itself filled the first weeks of November. The best of these was a Sunday evening address on "Beauty in Art and Religion," given in the Synod Hall to an audience of 3000 people, under the auspices of Dr MacGregor, who introduced him as "the most famous of living Scotchmen."

Lord Tennyson's death was a shock to him, as Robert Browning's had been three years before. These men were his contemporaries, and he bowed his head in recognition that their funeral knell bade him "jut his house in order." There was little to put in order in a life spent as was his, but something of the solemnity of expectation came upon him, and he often spoke of death from this time,—as coming and that soon. He spoke without regret and without the old recoil, and he looked forward to the better life continued beyond what we call death.

There can be no doubt [he wrote to Miss Pipe] that the belief in a historical Christ and a historical resurrection is the only basis on which a living certainty of life beyond the grave can be placed.

But he was not hindered in doing present work by the increasing urgency of this consideration.

"The devout mind," he continued, "may find perfect satisfaction in living for ever with God on this, or on the other side of the grave." He understood that eternal life is the life with God now as well as after.

On Sunday forenoons he was busy with a study of the character of King David, to take the first place in a book published at the end of 1893, and called 'Christianity and the Ideal of Humanity.' The writer spent that winter with him and Mrs Blackie, and listened to much talk on serious matters. He was more at home than usual, warned by chills which the bad weather of autumn had induced. He spent a great part of every evening in the drawing-room, supplementing his library catalogue and talking about his collection of modern Greek books. About nine o'clock he would produce the backgammon- board for the customary "rattle," and then the old vivacity would flash out, and he would stoutly assert the male superiority in all games where skill backs chance. Sometimes Mrs Blackie won a game, and then he lamented his defeat as if he had risked and lost the credit of all manhood. "What! let the hen beat you, Johnnie—for shame! for shame!" He was more patient with his guest, whom he beat with small ado. it was the immortal boyishness in his nature which took these freakish forms, for no man ever valued the feminine in humanity more, or more clearly recognised its divine function of helpfulness to men.

In the gospels [he wrote about this time] women stand prominently as the most loyal followers of Him whose sad honour it was to have been slandered by the Scribes and crucified by the priests of the age. And in the range of apostolic preaching that followed after the resurrection, in learned Athens we find that, while stern Stoics and light Epicureans combined to meet the great Apostle with a rude "What will this babbler say?" a woman named Damaris, following in the track of a judge in the court of the Areopagus, gave her name as a member of the infant Christian Church in Athens ; and from this small seed, under divine Providence, there grew up a mighty tree to which, after the lapse of nearly two thousand years, was reserved the honour of freeing the most intellectual centre of South-Eastern Europe from the desolating tyranny of the Turks.

All women who knew him acknowledged his enlarging and ennobling influence, and were the stronger, the sweeter, and the purer that he expected great things from them.

On November the 24th there was a Hellenic meeting to read the first part of 'Agamemnon'; and Professor Charteris, Dr Walter C. Smith, Sheriff Nicolson, Dr Hutchison Stirling, Mr Charles Robertson, and many others were present. Only two lady members, Miss Urquhart and Miss Stirling, took part. The rites followed their prescribed course—the reading, supper, toasts of the Hieropliant and the Despona, and songs from the Professor and Sheriff Nicolson. The latter sang his beautiful "Skye Song," almost for the last time, for not many weeks after death gently summoned him.

The year was wound up with a paper on "Love, Courtship, and Marriage," for 'Work and Progress,' and another on "How to Learn a Lan- guage," for the 'Academic Review.' The new year ushered in its quota of pleasant incidents, amongst them a visit to Dr Forbes White, to inaugurate the Homeric Club of Dundee at that gentleman's house. He busied himself, too, with dispensing New Year's gifts in a fashion of his own. Each had its special dedication and character, and was wrapped in its own consecrating myth. Thus he laid before the writer, still a guest at 9 Douglas Crescent, a packet inscribed by angels in the Greek of Paradise, who appeared to him in a wakeful hour of the night, arid in- trusted him with the gift. It contained 5 in an inner envelope, which bore the lines:-

Money, which burns the fingers of a fool
Who blindly blunders,
Is to the knowing hand a ready tool
Which works great wonders.

And the angelic Greek outside ran thus:-

When he sent books to his friends, each bore a definite inscription, recording some characteristic or recalling some association connected with the friend whom it addressed. Indeed he carried, this habit to the height of an art, no single inscription resembling another, even of many offered to the same person, and yet each having its special meaning for the recipient. The presentation of the Golden Wedding picture belonged to January, as well as work at the papers of which his last book was compiled. He was corresponding with theological friends on the accurate reading of certain passages in St Peter's epistles, one of which he prefixed as motto to the chapter on "St Paul and the Epistle to the Romans."

About the middle of April the long rest from lecturing had sufficiently renewed his strength to enable him to go South for three weeks. He had a carriage to himself nearly all the way to King's Cross, and relieved his solitude by singing Scottish songs. He spent the first week with Dr and Mrs Kennedy at Hampstead, but was not able for the usual whirl of engagements. He made some calls, spoke at a Scottish Home Rule meeting, and lunched with Mr Barrie, whom he liked. Short visits to Oxford and Cambridge on the business of his "Living Greek" propaganda, with gratifying response at the more open- minded University, wound up his holiday, and he returned to Edinburgh in time for the General Assembly's deliberations on the Greek Travelling Scholarship. The minutes record this year's resolution

The General Assembly cordially thank Professor Blackie for the renewed indication of his warm interest in the Scholarship which bears his name; approve of the suggestion that, with his consent, its scope should be widened so as to embrace Greek and Bible lands; and authorise Professor Cowan and Dr Nicol, with the assistance of such others as they may associate with them, to take charge of the matter and to make an appeal on its behalf to the sympathy and support of friends of the Church desirous of furthering the interests of Biblical scholarship among her students.

This proposal of a wider scholarship included Arabic and acquaintance with both Palestine and Egypt, to supplement for the study of the Old what Professor Blackie desired to do for that of the New Testament, and suggested Athens and Beyrout as two centres of residence. An appeal was drafted and distributed by the Sub-Committee to make the aim of the Scholarship widely known, and it met with response sufficiently liberal to enable the General Assembly of 1894 to sanction a competition held in September. The Scholarship was gained by Mr John Duncan, a graduate (with honours in Classics) of Aberdeen and a Divinity student, who received 150 on condition of spending three months in Greece and six months in countries where Arabic is spoken. This he did, spending two months in Egypt, where he assisted in some of Dr Flinders Petrie's excavations.

Professor and Mrs Blackie took a cottage on the heights above Pitlochry for the summer months, going to it on July 1, 1893. He was "well and serene," but found the climb to and from Pitlochry rather too tiring for daily effort; and although the spell of Ben Vrackie was always him, he missed the friendly neighbours and gossip of Kingussie. On his eighty-fourth birthday Pitlochry did him Highland honour, with bonfire, dancing, and speeches on the knoll before his cottage; and he enjoyed the crowd and its kindly acclamations. During the last weeks of their stay at Baighoulan, a valued friend of later years was their neighbour, Miss Molyneux of Tom-na-monachan, and she brightened the solitude which oppressed him in July. For except in his study and in the long walks of more vigorous years, when companionship rather fretted than pleased him, he loved to be surrounded by human faces, and delighted in the glimpses of character which they revealed. The glorious summer compensated partly for the isolation of their quarters, and they could sit out of doors or wander about in peace. A visit to Mrs Glassford Bell at Tirinie, near Aberfeldv, plunged him into the lively social atmosphere which he liked, and recruited by rest he managed to get half-way up Schiehallion, although with difficulty. He was waylaid by a party of climbers, with whom he lunched, and then descended.

It was not wise, however, and he returned to Balghoulan badly colded and enfeebled. The Highlands sent him back to the study of Gaelic, which he pursued in Edinburgh on his return, weaving his reading and observations into a short bright article for 'Blackwood's Magazine,' called "Glimpses of Church and Social Life in the Highlands in Olden Times." Other re- searches of the summer led to a paper on "Place- names" accepted by Dr Macleod for the November 'Good Words."

He was very far from well during the late autumn, but revived for "talking tramps," which lasted intermittently the whole winter. No persuasion would induce him to give these up, although he returned from them white and chilled and numb, sometimes too fatigued to speak. An interest of the year's close was his book, 'Christianity and the Ideal of Humanity.' The copy which he sent to the writer bears this inscription besides her name, With the hope that she may recognise in this book the ethical ideal, on which one of the oldest of her dear father's friends has now for more than sixty years humbly endeavoured to frame his mortal life!

This little volume, published by Mr David Douglas, contains six chapters—on David, King of Israel; on Christian Unity; on Wisdom; on Women, from which the closing sentences have already been quoted; on St Paul and the Epistle to the Romans; and on the Scottish Covenanters.

The chapter on Women contains his suggestions for their perfect development as women, in obedience to God's intention for them, and should be read by all.

Letters, gratefully acknowledging his services to his country and to individuals, abound bearing this winter's date: he was a prophet who received abundant honour from his own people.

An extract from a letter dated Aberdeen, 15th January 1894, shows that he began the new year with a revival of strength and energy. He lectured there with much acceptance on Tuesday the 16th, his subject being "Education and the Age," and spent some days with Dr and Mrs M'Clymont at 5 Queen's Gardens:-

Yesterday I went twice to church; in the forenoon to the College, where I marched in as part of the academical square caps, and had my seat on the left hand of the Principal accordingly. The preacher was Principal Fairbairn of the Dissenters' College, Oxford, who preached most excellently on the moral conquest of the world by Christ's army. After service I lunched with Professor Cowan, one of the best of my old students, and then drove back to the extreme west end of Aberdeen. In the evening we had a sermon specially addressed to the young men of the Association by Mr Ranken of Irvine, a discourse combining large human sympathies with special Christian grace and a broad sweep of social wisdom.

On the 15th he

lunched with Sir Principal Geddes and a few of his learned colleagues, besides some female wanderers. The Principal was bland and gracious, and the lady comported herself in every way worthy of a sister of John Forbes White. After food and talk, we drove over to Marischal College and heard Dr Fairbairn, as Gifford Lecturer, deliver an interesting and thoroughly learned lecture on Buddhism. We then came home, and at dinner had the same intelligent Dissenter in a more familiar presentation. He is really one of the largest-minded men that I have ever met. We were very jovial and hearty, and the Pro., by special entreaty, sang no less than three songs,—"Jenny Geddes," "Sam Sumph," and the "Bonnie House o' Airlie."

When he returned to Edinburgh he found awaiting him a letter from Professor Angelo Scuppa of Norcia, asking permission to translate 'Self-Culture' into Italian. This, as well as several requests from students in different parts of India, who desired to add it to the literature of their various vernaculars, closed the list of such proposals during his lifetime. Professor Scuppa completed the task in time to send him copies before Christmas; and one of the latest occupations of 1894 was the slow penning of inscriptions in these copies for the few friends to whom he sent them. His wife received the first, and the writer was one of those to whom this version of 'Self'-Culture' was his last gift.

Many good books you have written [wrote Dr Flint on January 30], and many good works you have clone, and all men love you well and wish you well.

And about the same time Mr Webster of the University Library acknowledged his photograph in loving words

You are, by the grace of God, one of the joy-makers of the world. I have often wished to let you know the gratitude (and yet that is not the word) which I have felt towards you since I was one of your boys.

There was too much "going to and fro" that winter, and on February 20 Mrs Blackie wrote: "Pro. is sleeping badly, and looking fagged." Quick recovery had always characterised his constitution, and he was slow to understand that the spirit to do things did not include the strength sufficient, so that we find him lecturing in March and even in April, and writing long and vigorous letters to the 'Scotsman' on two subjects—Disestablishment and the Greek Travelling Scholarship. On the former he appealed to his old test, Aristotle's golden mean, as opposed to the declaration of war against the Scottish Established Church, "which has become the stamp of national independence, and stands erect on its own base as free from any interference on the part of the State as in the days of the Apostle Paul and the early Fathers. This letter appeared on March 21, and was evoked by a point in Lord Rosebery's speech in the Corn Exchange a few days earlier. With all the other points in that speech he was in sympathy, but he deprecated assault on the National Church of Scotland.

In April Mrs Blackie fell ill. her malady meant great suffering. One Sunday, the first in May, he was standing at the foot of her bed while a prolonged spasm of acute pain seized her, and his grief and pity brought on him an attack of cardiac asthma. His wife saw him suddenly beating the air with his hands to recover breath. It was the first step of the ten months' decline, and was followed by another attack three days later. Dr Foulis kept him in his bedroom and called to see him twice a-day, and he recovered by the end of the week, although much enfeebled and depressed. Dr George Balfour was consulted, and gave it as his opinion that the heart was overtaxed, and that there must be no more lecturing nor public speaking. It was a case of "senile heart," and the least exertion might bring back the asthma. For the first time his wife could not be with him to tend him as she alone knew how to do, and this retarded her recovery, although she was kept in ignorance of the gravity of his attacks. But his nephew, Dr Stodart Walker, saw all instructions as to diet and rest carefully carried out; and he was nursed by the affectionate maidservants who had for many years been valued members of his household, and who considered themselves neither day nor night when his comfort was in question. "We're awfu' attached to the inaister," said one of them, and they showed their attachment by unwearied and most unselfish tendance. By May 29 he was so far well as to come down to breakfast and to read prayers. Mrs Blackie was getting better too, and together the two invalids took a daily drive for an hour at most.

The writer was in Edinburgh about the middle of June, and dined one Sunday at 9 Douglas Crescent. A great change had come over the alert, buoyant, vigorous Professor. He was thin and pale and aged. His talk was very gentle, and he was much interested in an account of Cavaliere Capellini's work amongst the soldiers of Italy. He said, "If lie teaches them to look in the face of Christ, then all the foolish formalism will fall off, and the Italians will learn the Christ life." Next day he wrote, "I think Capellini's work worthy of all praise, and enclose a guinea as my subscription to the Military Church."

Although his public speaking was ended, his pen was busy with no fewer than five articles for July magazines,-on "Place-names of Scotland" for 'Blackwood' amongst them; but, alas! three more attacks of cardiac asthma towards the end of the month prostrated him completely. He was confined to bed and closely nursed, and by July 2 he was able to be removed to Pitlochry in an invalid carriage. Mrs Blackie had secured Tom-na-monachan cottage for the summer months. Here he slowly revived, and crept daily to a seat in Miss Molyneux's garden, where he could rest and look on Ben Vrackie. By-and-by he could stand a short drive, and when his old friend Mr Gladstone came to Fisher's Hotel, he drove down to call on him, and roused his spirit to battle when the great statesman rather slighted Socrates and confessed to sympathy with Xanthippe, who must indeed have been bored at times. A fortnight of the peaceful cottage revived him wonderfully, and he ventured on July 17 to come downstairs to breakfast to read prayers himself, and, too daring, to climb the hill to Baighoulan in the afternoon. A lively rubber of whist completed the clay's doings, and at 1.30 A.M. he paid the penalty in the form of a very bad asthmatic attack. This was followed by others, and he was again confined to his room, weak and ailing. It was an agitating time for all, but by the beginning of August he was so far better as to write letters and to make out his slow walk to the garden-seat.

On July 28 friends in Pitlochry decorated the cottage in honour of his eighty-fifth birthday, and Miss Molyneux sent him a beautifully carved lion, eighty-five roses, one for each year, and a tender tribute of verse, entitled "The Happy Warrior."

"For him who through a faithful life
The path of duty bravely chose,
Beauty has blossomed out of strife,
And every year has borne its rose.

So greet we thee, beloved and true,
With roses fairest of the fair
Such sweetness is the warrior's due,—
Such garlands may a victor wear.

With lips attuned on hearts aglow,
We bless the day that gave thee birth,—
That sent thee forth through weal and woe
To lift a standard high on earth.

And thou, whate'er the future bring,
Canst view it with untroubled brow,
Still journeying on to meet thy King,
And live His servant there as now."

A bonfire on the hill behind Tom-na-monachan closed the celebrations; but the Professor was not able to be present, and his thanks were spoken by Dr Stodart Walker.

A letter to his sister, Mrs Kennedy, bears for date August 5, and may be quoted:-

Shortly after your letter, the 28th July arrived, and the good old Scot of fourscore years and five was forthwith overwhelmed by an epistolary storm of birthday greetings that demanded an immediate grateful acknowledgment. RealIy, I seem to have done some good to my fellow- countrymen, but exaggeration in matters that touch the public pulse, especially in the case of an octogenarian, is natural; and I must tone it down to something of a more modest estimate. I feel great weakness, and, in fact, only half alive. Perfect recovery from such a radical weakness of function at my time of life is contrary to nature; and I will address myself to a pious curtailment of all hopes and fears and ambitions belonging to this sublunary sphere.

After the July attacks he had rest for at least two months. When the writer reached Tom-na-monachan towards the end of August, he had picked up strength sufficient for a quiet round of daily interests. He was eating with better appetite, and sleeping more soundly, so that the bright temper with its normal hopefulness had returned. Snatches of psalm and song resounded through the house, and at night over a rubber of whist he grew bellicose and noisy. He presented his guest with the 'Greek Primer,' and gave her a first lesson out of the Gospel of St John, exacting a promise that she would learn Greek. He was busy with Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall,' reading it through for the first time, and astonished at its monumental character. The subject displeased him, however, for he preferred the building UI) to the breaking up of a great State. On Sundays he read the 'Life of Wilberforce.' When a friend of academic education came to see him, he talked of Greek, ancient and modern, all the time. At intervals in the day he penned a letter or two in answer to unknown correspondents, who hurled all sorts of questions at him, from "What is the origin of evil? " downwards. Constantly in his talk recurred that counsel of perfection "Look Christ in the face; in all doings note what Christ did in like circumstances, and do as He would done have done on earth.

Once, calling on Mrs Glassford Bell at Baledmund, he insisted, against all advice, on singing " Get up an' bar the door," with great energy, --dramatic, not vocal, for the notes were feeble. It was the first time that he had sung a Scottish song since the spring. On August 29 he had the pleasant news from Mr Douglas that a second edition of 'Christianity and the Ideal of Humanity' was called for. By that time he was strong enough to come to breakfast and to read prayers. His last social appearance at Pitlochry was at an afternoon party given by Miss Molyneux, where he read aloud his "Farewell to Ben Vrackie," sent afterwards to 'Maga'—his last contribution to that magazine—and written on the seat to which he made his slow way every day.

On the last (lay of the month he was taken back to Edinburgh in an invalid carriage, and was well enough on his return to make calls near at hand, and to write a lengthy letter to the 'Scotsman' of September 10 on the "Threefold Order." But the weakness was increasing, and sleeplessness once more set in. He tossed about restlessly, sometimes singing and lecturing in his snatches of perturbed sleep; but he was not depressed, as in the first stages of his long illness. Towards the end of September the cardiac asthma returned, and three attacks quickly followed each other, leaving him always more or less enfeebled still the mind was clear, and although he had to dictate most of his letters, he was able to grapple with all their subjects, and sent another long letter to the 'Scotsman,' this time on the Greek Travelling Scholarship.

Unfortunately he was tempted to try the little strength that returned towards the middle of October by going to the inaugural lecture of the History Class in the University, and by making calls. This brought further weakness, and in November he was limited to the dining-room, where he sat, or lay, and received many visitors. A look of great age had come upon him, and his friends could hardly restrain their tears when they saw him. He would point to Sir George Reid's portrait and say, "That's Blackie, not this." He would apologise to ladies for not being able to open the door for them. Strong men sobbed as well as women when they left him. Henry Irving was one of these visitors, and stooped to kiss his brow as he bade him good-bye. The Professor took the great actor's hand and kissed it.

A letter from Dr George MacDonald reached him about the middle of November.

The shadows of the evening that precedes a lovelier morning are drawing down around us both [he wrote], but our God is in the shadow as in the shine, and all is and will be well: have we not seen His glory in he face of Jesus ? and do we not know him a little ?—Good-bye for a little while. I have loved you over since I knew you, for you loved the truth.

On Sunday, December 9, Mr Lees of Boleside, Galashiels, paid him a last visit.

The Professor and Mrs Blackie were alone in the dining- room, he in his arm-chair beside the fire. I conveyed my wife's sympathy, which led him to talk, as lie always did, about her with agreeable interest. I mentioned another invalid whom I had just seen, who was fretting that he had not got into the fresh air. The Professor said: "No man was ever more active than myself. But I fret not I complain not. God has been very good to me during all these years ; and here I sit waiting his coming and ready for His call." When I rose to go, extending my hand, I bade him good-bye. I had felt it would be my last inter- view with him. He took my hand in both of his and clasped it once or twice, and with some tearful emotion he bade me good-bye. "Yes, good-bye," he said "remember my messages to your wife,"—and as I went towards the door I heard a blessing following me.

Later in the month the Professor wrote with his own hand to Dr H. F. Horton two long letters on the inspiration of St Paul's writings, with full mental vigour, but they were scarcely legible. Warm regard for his correspondent is expressed in these letters, although they are too strictly on theological matters for quotation.

On both the 6th and the 20th of December the Hellenic Society met at his house. The members were reading the "Prometheus Bound," and he busied himself beforehand in preparing the play. Dr Forbes White was present at the last meeting, and writes "The old man was still alert and keen in intellect, and more genial and lovable than ever. Next morning he was fresh and bright, arranging for the next meeting."

On Christmas-day he insisted upon a luncheon- party. "He sat in his big chair, while nine friendly people lunched and chattered. He wanted this small affair carried out." But that evening the asthma returned and lasted sixteen hours, so that next day he could speak but one word at a time, and then sleep returned and a little appetite. "His weakness is pitiable, and the mind remaining very active, he wonders why he can do so little. He has given up writing altogether." On New Year's Day Mrs Mackie wrote:-

A sort of rally has come; yesterday we got him out of his room. He sat in great comfort for three hours—much wrapped up,—and had after that a long night of sleep. We had prayers beside him at his request, and since that he has again slept. Such changes occur in his feelings of ease and the dreadful unease of weakness, that we never know what to look for. Archie and Bella continue to watch him by day and by night, and Dr Balfour had a good verdict to give, so just at this moment I am more comfortable.

From his bedroom on the ground-floor to the (lining-room and back again was all the change now possible. He lay very silent, often not speaking for hours. A touch of bronchitis was added to the other symptoms, but he was active in certain directions, still writing some letters very slowly, and dictating others to his wife and to a cousin, who came to be with them. A neighbour, Mrs Miller Morrison, often read aloud to him, and after a good night he read for an hour or two himself. He had never used spectacles, and did not require them now. The straw hat was discarded, and a soft velvet scholar's cap took its place. Froude's 'Erasmus' and 'Beside the Bonnie Brier-Bush' were the last books read aloud to him, and he had the pleasure of seeing "Ian Maclaren" one evening. He popped in as we sat at dinner, a big, grave, well- mannered man. He found time to tell us his method of working, and Pro. and lie fraternised pleasantly."

'Erasmus' occupied and stimulated his mind, so that he dictated two papers upon his life and work for the 'People's Friend,' the first of which appeared on February 18. in the ew Year number there had appeared some lines and a short paper on Father Sarpi,—and he had also been able to contribute an article on "The Natural Method of Teaching" to the 'Contemporary Review' for February. His thoughts were often occupied with the Greek Travelling Scholarship. He dictated, and even wrote, many letters on the subject. to Professor Cowan, to Sir Arthur Mitchell, and to others. With the new year came the determination to make the fund, as far as modern Greek went., a realisation; and he saw Sir Arthur Mitchell frequently about the clause in his will affecting this provision. He was urgent that the Church of Scotland should raise the fund of 5000 to provide for the wider scholarship, and so restore to the Scottish Church a high standard of classical and Biblical training. But to make sure for the University of Edinburgh the advantage of the Greek Scholarship, he left 2500, to be devoted in due time to its perpetual realisation, limiting the candidature to theological students of that University. The bequest secures the eventual fulfilment of the desire of his heart.

On February 2 he wrote to his friend Mr Blackwood, offering "to dash off a short article, not above six pages, with the title 'Is Greek a Dead Language?'"—and gibing in the old fashion at Oxonian conservatism. This article was never written. Later in the month, he engaged in a correspondence with his friend and colleague of many years, Professor Campbell Fraser, upon the philosophy of the Scholiasts and the exact value of the term 1?ealsm. This train of thought and inquiry belonged to his study of 'Erasmus.'

All February he received letters from scholars of different Universities full of appreciation of his efforts both for Greek and for reformed methods of teaching. Mr George Seton saw him on the 20th of February for about five minutes, and before he left the old man suddenly said with energy. "People are beginning to discover that there is a good deal of truth in many of Blackie's fads."

Two days after he was no longer able to leave his bedroom. He lay, suffering neither pain nor restlessness, but the bodily powers were failing, and he looked already like a spirit. Even then he thought of others rather than of himself, and would break long spells of silence to bid his nephew rest. "Go to bed, boy; you require sleep." When the asthma returned he would say, "Close the door that Oke mayn't hear."

"I never saw or heard anything in all the days of his illness," wrote Dr Stodart Walker, "that was not worthy of a true gentleman and follower of Christ."

Sir Arthur Mitchell saw him a few days before the end, and describes the interview:-

He spoke with force and earnestness of his patriotic desire to raise the scholarship of the Scottish Church, with the view not only of adding to its dignity, but of increasing its usefulness in the deepest and best sense. He had also much to say of 'Erasmus.' And I remember feeling how much his words, even when he allowed himself to be somewhat unrestrained and vehement, tended to make those hearing them better men, larger-hearted, fuller of truth and love. lie was quite bright and happy. When leaving him I said, "Good-bye, most pleasant friend,— patriot, poet, and philosopher." "Then you have not forgotten," he quickly said. Long years ago he had told me that he would like to be so remembered.

It was on February 27 that Dr Forbes White saw him for the last time.

As he wakened from his sleep he took me by the hand and said, , do you hear?" with a humorous glance. "Speaking the truth in love, in love." Then his thoughts seemed to wander on the same lines. "The sun gives light and heat ; light for knowledge, heat for love."

Other old friends saw him -Professor Adam Smith, Sir Noel Paton, Dr Walter C. Smith, Dr Cameron Lees, Dr MacGregor, Sheriff Vary Campbell.

He talked at long intervals of the songs of Burns and of the Psalms of David; and the 19th Psalm, the first that he learnt in childhood, was the last upon his lips.

On Friday, March 1, before he became unconscious, his nephew repeated to him all his favourite mottoes, and he smiled at each. When Dr Walker came to " speaking the truth in love," he murmured, "Remember, my boy, the Greek word means acting too."

His wife came into the room and bent over him. "Do you know your old Oke? " she said, and he answered, "I have always loved her." He bade her, his sister Mrs Walker, and his nephew a last farewell, kissing his wife again and again and saying, "You were always a good and faithful Oke;" and later in the day he was heard to murmur "Oke, Oke," when he was nearly unconscious. For some hours he lay, and then waking for a few minutes, he uttered his last words on earth: "The Psalms of David and the songs of Burns, but the Psalmist first," and with a smile, and repeating "Psalms, poetry," he passed again into unconsciousness, which lasted till the next morning at a quarter to ten o'clock, when he gently breathed his last. Death had no triumph in that passage into immortality.

It was on Saturday, March 2, that John Stuart Blackie died, eighty five years and seven months old; and on Wednesday, March 6, he was buried with such honours as were due to the scholar, the reformer, the warrior, the patriot, and the Christian.

For the intervening days he lay in the dining- room, wrapped ill dark plush dressing-gown and crimson sash, with the black velvet cap on his head and flowers heaped up around him. Working men, Highland students, poor women, trudged long distances to look upon his ethereal face, and all were admitted.

The first to send a message of loving and reverential sorrow was Lord Rosebery, himself upon a bed of sickness; then they came in ever increasing numbers from all parts of the kingdom.

How is it possible truly to describe his funeral? Not the simple pageantry of procession and Presbyterian ceremonial; not the last honours paid by academic and scientific bodies; not the tread of mourners from city and burgh, from northern solitude and southern glen; not the music in the Cathedral and the wild lament of the Highland pipers; not the measured stateliness of that long train,—not these alone, but the outburst of affection from tens of thousands who were not called upon to share the burden of befitting grief; the shepherds wrapped in plaids with bowed heads by the wayside; the women who kissed the bier that bore him, and begged for a flower from the heap upon his coffin; the men, noble and simple, who sobbed as they watched it pass; the tears of a multitude of poor, who loved him because he first loved them,—these were his funeral's unbidden and unmarshalled pomp.

For chose who were not there [wrote Professor Patrick Geddes in 'The Scots Renascence'] the scene is wellnigh as easy to picture as for us to recall; the wavy lane, close-walled with drawn and deepened faces, the long black procession marching slow, sprinkled with plaid and plume, crowded with college cap and gown, with civic scarlet and ermine, marshalled by black-draped maces. In the midst, the Black Watch pipers marching their slowest and stateliest—then the four tall black-maned horses, the open bier, with plain unpolished oaken coffin high upon a pyramid of flowers, a mound of tossing lilies, with Henry Irving's lyre of violets "To the Beloved Professor," its silence fragrant at its foot. Upon the coffin lay the Skye women's plaid, above his brows the Prime Minister's wreath, but on his breast a little mound of heather opening into bloom.

The heather was laid there by his nephew, Archie Walker; and beside it lay another honoured wreath, given to their dear master by the devoted maids, Bella, Annie, and Blair.

In the Cathedral, Dr Cameron Lees, Dr Flint, Dr Story, and Dr Walter C. Smith took part in the service, and then joined the slow progress through the crowds. Nine Black Watch pipers from the Castle played in succession "The Land o' the Leal," the "Flowers o' the Forest," and "Lochaber no more" in front of the bier. And at the grave in the Dean Cemetery, when all were gathered in their places, Dr Walter C. Smith prayed :-

O God, our Father in heaven, it is with sad, sorrowing hearts that we lay all that can perish of our beloved friend in the grave, in the sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection. Sad and sorrowful as this day is, yet it is not unmixed with much that gladdens us, turning sorrow into sweetness. We give Thee thanks, O God, that we ever knew him. We give Thee thanks for all the sweet fellowship we had together; for the sweetness of his hearty counsel, which remains as perfume and as ointment with us. We give Thee thanks for his varied and manifold labours during his manhood—labours carried on to the last of a long life; and we give Thee thanks for the Christian faith, for the sweet meekness, for the tranquil hopefulness of his last days among us. Bless the Lord, O our souls. And, O God, grant that, as we remember these things, and remember all the pureness, the unworldliness, the simplicity, and the sincerity of this faithful man, we may be lifted up to walk in his footsteps, to follow him in his faith. One day we trust to find these broken bonds knit up before Thee in heaven, where there is no more parting, and where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. God bless those dear to him. Lord grant that she whom he has left alone may not be alone, may be never alone, and may be never without Thee. May God sustain and comfort her in this day of bereavement. Hear us for Jesus' sake. Amen.


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