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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter VII. Years of Struggle 1832 - 1837


In the spring of 1832 John Blackie established himself in Edinburgh, and began to read for the Scottish Bar. His lodgings were in Lauriston during the first year of his legal studies, but later he removed to more convenient quarters in Dublin Street. His wooing of the legal muse was both distasteful and unsuccessful in the preliminary stages. He found Bell and Erskine the driest and least intelligible of reading. Gifted and brilliant, his head a very beehive of ambitious fancies, theories, and reforms in active competition with sentiment, and all clamorous for articulate expression, he felt stupefied in the presence of the stereotyped and ancient Themis. To persevere at all needed a courage stimulated by intervals of dalliance with the more attractive Muses. But he made manful efforts, and sought admission into a lawyer's office, that he might the better conquer the dull terminology of the law.

The gentleman who helped him through the perplexities of bonds and bills was a Mr Alexander, a Writer to the Signet, well versed in their dreary details. His first valuable lesson was to reduce his pupil to a salutary sense of his own ignorance. This incident is told in the "Notes" :-

I remember shortly after I entered his office he brought me in a bundle of law papers, and ordered me to read them and give a legal opinion on the merits of the case. I did so with great speed, took my view with decision, and on being asked, gave a distinct deliverance that the law of the case was quite clear—there could not possibly he two opinions on the point." This was exactly the kind of answer that he expected, so, looking me sharply in the face, lie said "Mr Blackie, whenever I hear a young advocate declare that there is no difficulty in the case, I have no difficulty in declaring that he knows nothing about his business."

This plain speaking was most wholesome for the head a little turned by attainments and speculations which were unusual in the Edinburgh of that time, and which gained for him not merely a very marked social success, but also the auguries of experienced seniors that he would achieve a distinguished career. So he set himself to work to copy papers and to learn slowly and painfully the alphabet of legal lore.

His letters home during the three years which belong to this stage speak to his repugnance for the study of law; and one written to Mr Anderson of Banchory in the autumn of 1832 gave that wise friend some reason to fear that his perseverance would give way. Mr Anderson wrote on November 5 :-

I sincerely hope the knot is tied, which will never be loosed, unless by what you would call an inevitable fate— I, Providence—so that it may not be said in your biography (and I doubt not, if you adhere to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, you will yet have a biographer). In 1832 he resolved upon devoting himself to law as a profession, but soon gave up the pursuit." You may yet be the Lord Advocate, and I—grown stiff with age—may be your humble suitor for a Hebrew Professorship in Aberdeen or St Andrews. But without joke, I am glad you have fixed upon what opens to you a career of honourable and useful employment. You will experience, I doubt not, that man fulfils the conditions of a happy existence only when actively employed in the duties of life. And, my dear sir, supposing you attain every worldly object upon which the powers of humanity are fitted to exercise themselves, still, believe me, there would exist an aching void which only the supernatural, the perfect and the infinite, God and heaven, could fill. Though I scarce expect that you and I should be at one on religious subjects, yet I cannot help expressing my great anxiety that on the creed, scanty as it may be, which you allow, you should lay fast hold. "Keep it, for it is thy life."

In the few letters which remain of this time, John Blackie can scarcely be said to have gratified the passion of his family for details. Even the pleasant social life to which his evenings were devoted is dismissed with mere dates and addresses; but we gather from this meagre record that he dined out nearly every evening, and that amongst his hosts were Sir William Hamilton, Professor Wilson, Mr Blackwood, Mr Wyld, Mr Bell, and other citizens of note. In a letter to his sister Christina he describes in turn a bevy of her special friends in Edinburgh, emphasising their graces and gifts as they appear to him, and his criticisms indicate his decided preference for a calm and stately deportment in women rather than for lively and varied manners. He was still very sensitive to feminine charm, but fluttered from one attractive lady to another, comparing all with his ideal and even with the half-forgotten Clotilda at Rome, and finding all short of perfection.

We come on the traces of genial suppers with his fellow-students for the Bar, when rousing talk and song sped the hours to midnight, and when all who could contributed their own humours, declaimed or sung. For one of these occasions he prepared his "Give a Fee," and sang it to the tune of "Buy a Broom," with a great consensus of mind and voice in the ringing chorus. It is too long for full quotation, but the first stanza may be given:-

"O listen, ye bankers and merchants and doctors all;
O listen, ye old wealthy nabobs, to me;
O listen, ye bishops and deans and tithe-proctors all,
And give to a poor starving lawyer a fee.
Give a fee, give a fee, give a fee;
And give to a poor starving lawyer a fee.

Chorus. O my first fee, my first fee, my first fee;
O when wilt thou tinkle so sweet to my ear?
Months I wait, years I wait,
But all in vain I wait;
O my dear first fee, when wilt thou appear?"

But in spite of the acceptance which he enjoyed in Edinburgh at one of its most brilliant social epochs, when its claims to be called the Modern Athens rested far more on its attitude towards art and literature, on the oratory of its platforms and the sparkling talk of its dinner-tables, than on the buildings which imitate remotely the perfect structures of the ancient capital of Greece, he was deeply dissatisfied with his life and its issues. In a letter to his sister written early in 1833 he says:-

I have been lately very much discontented with myself and the superficial halfness of my own attainments. I feel, too, a great disproportion between my ideas of what should be done and what I am doing. I hope this crisis will soon be over. I have made an irrevocable vow to do nothing by halves, and I long with an unquenchable longing to escape from my present state of intellectual minority.

It was a crisis common to all honest men, who, having realities in view and not mere seeming, are discountenanced again and again, when they make up their accounts, to find that fractions and not integers are the stuff of which the sum of their best efforts is composed. The integer is reached at last, but seldom shows itself wholly in the life which ends by fulfilling it. The fractions are for us, the integers go into the keeping of God, who makes the just spirit perfect.

The great effort of the year 1833 was the translation of Goethe's 'Faust.' John Blackie spent much of his leisure in the Advocates' Library, consulting old books on the black art, and making extracts from them for the notes appended to his translation. Sir William Hamilton, Professor Wilson, and the poet "Delta" took helpful interest in the work, and directed his attention to earlier renderings of the great romantic tragedy by Leveson Gower, by Hayward, and by Syrne. He revised his own translation, carefully comparing it with these, but retaining the robuster forms into which 'his mind moulded the scenes meant to be plainly expressed. He was less, occupied with finding verbal equivalents for the parts than with offering a fresh and living presentment of the whole. In the Preface he stated the principle on which he translated the poem :-

The great principle on which the excellence of a poetical translation depends seems to be, that it should not be a mere transposing, but a recasting of the original. On this principle it has been my first and chief endeavour to make my translation spirited,—to seize, if possible, the very soul and living power of the German, rather than to give a careful and anxious transcription of every individual line or every minute expression.

His researches in the Advocates' Library gave him a store of material concerning the historical basis of Faust,' of which he made good use in the introduction, appending to his explanatory remarks a sketch of the plan and the moral of Goethe's masterpiece, and giving his reasons for confining the translation to the First Part. He considered that the Second Part, or sequel, instead of being necessary for the harmonious development of the first, was a disturbing and incongruous afterthought, and infringed upon the unity and deep significance of the drama.

The translation, accompanied by notes and preliminary remarks, was placed in Messrs Black- wood's hands towards the end of the year, and appeared in print in the February of 1834.

Its success, as a piece of excellent literary work, was marked. It had faults of style, and occasionally failed in accuracy of rendering. Acting upon his principle of recasting the original, he had omitted here and there a phrase; had given some essentially German thought a form suited to home circulation, but inadequate to its character; had failed perhaps to find an English equivalent for some sturdy and foreshortened utterance, and had weakened it in elongation. But it must be remembered that English was the language which he had studied least, and that his very mode of thought was German, since to the Germans he owed the development of his power of independent thinking, —a process which, before he went to Gottingen, was a mere confused brooding over the empirical dicta of others.

Criticism he received in plenty from friends, who, enamoured of Byron, revolted against Goethe's calm presentment of the conflict between good and evil in man, and of the paradoxes which it involved, preferring Byron's revolt, not against evil, but against suffering - a revolt to which his impassioned verse lends a lurid splendour blinding and baleful to this day. But these friends were not critical of his work, but jealous of his preference for Faust to Manfred, and all agreed in praising the spirit and impressiveness of his translation. Of its truthfulness few of these friendly critics were in a position to judge, but he received a letter from Thomas Carlyle, who had already given to the world his 'Life. of Schiller,' and whose deep knowledge of German literature made the words of appreciation with which he endorsed John Blackie's translation of virtue to seal its worth. This letter is too interesting to omit :-

CRAIGENPUTTOCK, 28th April 1834.

MY DEAR SIR,—I must no longer delay to thank you for the welcome present of your 'Faust,' the more welcome from your kind manner of bestowing it. I have been so busy that time for a patient comparison with the original would never yet offer itself; meanwhile, in look- ing over your book many spirited passages have struck me; and as yet only one error: the vague couplet, Die Gegenwart von einen braven Knaben; in which it is much easier to sV that you and others are wrong than who or what is right. I advised Hayward to make it in his second edition: "The present time by (in the hands of) a fellow of ability," but that also only satisfies me on the ground that with Goethe himself rhyme would sometimes have its way.

For rhymes the rudder are of verses,
With which like ships they steer their courses.

The newspapers, I perceive, acknowledge your merits and endeavours in a hearty style; which is all one can expect of criticism at present. Let us hope your labours in the German vineyard, which has much lack of honest hands, are but beginning yet, and will lead you to richer and richer results.

Of your Preface and prose notes I can speak deliberately and in terms of great commendation. There is a spirit of openness, of free recognition and appropriation, which I love much, which I reckon far more precious than any specialty of talent or acquired skill, inasmuch as that is the root of all talent and all skill. Keep an "open sense," an eye for the "Offlne Geheimniss," which so few discern ! With this much is possible, without it as good as nothing.

For the rest, that I must dissent from you somewhat both in regard to the First and the Second Part of 'Faust' is but a small matter. We agree in spirit; this itself is an agreement to let each take his own way in details. Could you but have as much tolerance for me in this new heresy, which I, alas! feel growing upon me of late years, that 'Faust' is intrinsically but a small poem, perhaps the smallest of Goethe's main works; recommending itself to the sorrow-struck, sceptical feeling of these times, but for Time at large of very limited value! Such, I profess not without reluctance, is the sentiment that has long breathed in me; moreover, of the two I find considerably more meaning in the Second Part! Favete linguis. At the same time I can well enter into your enthusiasm, and again read 'Faust' along with you like a new Apocalypse, for in that way I read it once already. Ten years hence you shall tell me how it is.

We are leaving this boggy Patmos, and getting under way for London. It will give me true pleasure to hear of you; to hear that you advance successfully in all kinds of well-doing. There is no young literary man about Edinburgh from whom more is to be expected. When you come southward, you will see us? Do not fail if you would please us.—AV, ith the heartiest good wishes and thanks, I remain always, my dear sir, faithfully yours,

THOMAS CARLYLE.

It appears from this letter that John Blackie had already made the acquaintance of Mr and Mrs Carlyle, and we gather from his correspondence with Mr Jonathan Bell that during their stay in Edinburgh in 1833 he had spent more than one evening with them.

This translation of 'Faust' took its place as the best and most truthful rendering of the poem hitherto made public, but later it was superseded by Sir Theodore Martin's version, which John Blackie himself considered better than his own. George Henry Lewes, however, ranked the earlier translation highly, and used it in the passages from 'Faust' which he quoted in his 'Life of Goethe.' He says: "I shall generally follow Blackie's translation. Of the poetical translations it is the best and closest I have seen, and it has valuable notes."

His absorption with Goethe's poem, and with the researches necessary for its elucidation, brought about an inevitable access of fatigue and temporary distaste to the whole subject, and we find that he turned for a time to a poet of very different temper, to regain from him that equilibrium of mind and spirit, maintained on the one hand by a wide and generous outlook upon life, on the other by stern reflection and self-examination. This poet was William Wordsworth, and for some years John Blackie found his pure and introspective teaching of power to aid his own study of the forces which he found within himself, and which it was a main endeavour to marshal in practicable order for active service. The language, too, of the Lake poet impressed him with its chosen and delicate fitness, and in view of his need of English influences, he sought to learn from it all that it could yield of help. But the difference between the disciple and the teacher was too great, for, coupled with the tendency to introspection which lie had in common with Wordsworth, John Blackie had an imperious impulse to know and be known of his fellow-men. He says in the "Notes":—

As richness and variety of life opened upon me, I found that the great laker, though the first of moral teachers among his own green hills, was narrow and one-sided, and infected strongly with that moral egoism that no persons can escape who live mainly from within, and who can see nothing in nature or art without impressing on it their own engrossing idiosyncrasy. Wordsworth was too much of a preacher for my idea of a wise poet; he sympathised with man rather than with men. He never could get quit of himself and his own philosophical position. For this reason, after a while, I was obliged to discard him, as I had ever found my greatest improvement to arise from a thorough going out of my natural groove, and receiving into my life as much as possible of the lives and characters of others.

During the first half of 1834 he set himself with desperate industry to the study of law. It was the last year of the three for which his father had made provision, and the crisis was rapidly approaching which should set him face to face with that ruthless but most wholesome test of worth, the capacity to earn his daily bread. He was determined, when the probationary years were at an end, to stand the test, but he knew by this time that Law would hardly prove for him a fount of perennial supply. This conviction was no fruit of idleness, for he left nothing undone which could commend him to the notice of his seniors, or could fit and polish his powers.

We find him in this year a member of the Speculative and Juridical Societies, which form the nursing-grounds of Scottish oratory, forensic and political. The free controversy of the Speculative, whose members are chiefly young lawyers in training for their profession, invigorates and concentrates both thought and utterance, and has given to many a public speaker the valuable lessons of reserve and emphasis which made his speeches weighty in later life. About 1834 a group of youthful stalwarts pitted minds and lungs against each other in lively rhetorical contest. They were men destined to fill the highest seats of law and learning in Scotland, and some of them to achieve a wider fame than belonged to Bar and Bench at home.

William Aytoun, John Gordon, Edward Hors- man, James Moncreiff, and Archibald Campbell Swinton were the leaders of this group. The two first belonged to the little court of wits and poets over which Christopher North so royally presided. They were soon to become his sons-in-law, and were well inoculated with all his enthusiasms, real and robust as well as purely romantic. They brought into the arena not only the caustic and somewhat reckless humour of their circle, but also its wealth of allusion and play of wit, its grace of impromptu eloquence, that indescribable quality mingled of romance and good sense, which was its cachet. Of the two, Gordon was the more finished orator, and his wit was less sarcastic than that of Aytoun, who spoke seldom, but gave evidence when he did so of powers which his diffidence restrained from reaching their proper distinction. These two formed the formidable section of the audience for a new and untried speaker; but there were other men less varied mentally and less original, but careful and clear as speakers, and less inclined, because perhaps less able, to swoop down upon the blunders and inadequacies of their opponents. Such were Moncreiff and Swinton. Moncreiff had considerable weight in the Speculative, having mastered the manner of public speaking so far that his appearances were always successful, and in later lif, when Lord Advocate, speaking with effect and dignity in the House of Commons.

John Blackie felt the difficulty of taking a worthy place amongst these practised debaters; but he had not joined the Society for the mere purpose of gracing its benches, so on the very first night of his membership he rose, in a fever of shyness and impulse, to take part in the proceedings. No survival of the matter discussed remains, and we only know that his contribution was rather a torrent of nervous sentences than a well-weighed speech. But he felt that if he sat dumb on the first night, he would remain dumb for the rest of his membership, and so in duty to himself he spoke. We can well imagine the rapid utterance, the fresh phrasing, the quaint epithets, the laugh and gesture of "German Blackie" as he was called, but we can also imagine the stir which his appearance provoked, and the promise of a new and rousing element to quicken the mettle of established debaters.

There seems to be some reason for believing that his sense of justice at this time took offence at the Edinburgh Whigs, for Jeffrey's notorious review on Wordsworth exposed the party to a ridicule which some of its members heartily deserved. The deep interest with which he was reading the poet led John Blackie to resent the article, which, like the burning of the Epliesian temple, has immortalised its perpetrator. And we learn from his correspondence that Liberal friends reproached him with a temporary relapse. But all that was brilliant in Scotland then was produced by Tories, or was connected with men who professed to be Tories, perhaps less on political than on romantic grounds. The quickest-witted people in Edinburgh, and the most attractive to a young man bent on mental development, made profession of a quasi -medieval Toryism, which served them as a treasure-trove of poetical material. Their attitude was mainly sentimental, but it became heroic when Whigs pretended to bludgeon a poet whom their prose-drugged senses could not discern, and whom the Tory poets hailed with reverence and delight. It was entirely natural that John Blackie should recoil from the Whigs of the 'Edinburgh Review.' But it does credit to one of those Whigs, James Moncreiff, that he should have overlooked the petulance of this recoil, and should have given the new speaker courage by kindly words of praise on the occasion of this first speech.

The Juridical Society was less to his mind. Here the members were, with a few notable exceptions, mere lawyers, whose dry, cool, unimpassioned treatment of subjects exclusively legal fatigued a mind too fervidly human to find any attraction whatever in punctilio and terms of law. Here he learned that of all men there he was the least adapted to the profession of the Bar. Its "terms of process" were hieroglyphics to which he had no key. The other members of the Juridical spoke them glibly, and glibly apprehended them, found them humorous at times, found depths in them and subtilties which graced their speeches and won applause, —a marvel to John Blackie, for whom their habit of mind was impossible, and to whose ears their speeches were very tedium. The one exception, the Saul amongst these legal prophets, was Henry Glassford Bell. Of him Professor Blackie wrote long afterwards:-

Besides his literary and popular powers, he had a wonderful sagacity, a capacity for law work and for social enjoyment equally large, a natural eye for business in a man of such remarkable imaginative power quite uncommon.

But although he realised with sincere disappointment the antipathy of his mind to the work which had become his first duty, he wrestled bravely with its difficulties, pored over its textbooks, interleaving them for notes, and shouted aloud its abhorred formulas, as in happier days he had shouted the sounding anathemas of Cicero and the patriotic diatribes of Demosthenes. When his books dealt with the broad uses of law and with its larger organisation, he grasped their contents eagerly: but the numberless details, which seem to be excrescences rather than organic parts; the vast and grotesque vocabulary; the labyrinth of vexatious punctilio; the prehistoric deposit which forms the substratum of Scots Law,—these provoked and repulsed him. Nevertheless he worked well enough to pass the various stages guarded by examination, and to be admitted as a member of the Faculty of Advocates on July 1, 1834.

From this time for five years he mixed with his fellows in the Parliament House, and was often the centre of one of its liveliest groups. But he held only two briefs during these years, and he had frequent occasion to sing "Give a Fee" with rueful emphasis as they passed.

The last year of his allowance expired with 1834, and left him carolling in vain. He was determined to make no appeal to his father's generosity, on which he had already drawn sufficiently. It became him to make good his promises, and he was eager and able to do so. From 1835 he supported himself, and if he found it hard to do so, he endured his difficulties gladly. The success of his translation of 'Faust' gave him access to the pages of 'Blackvood's Magazine' and of the 'Foreign Quarterly Review.' Both periodicals were willing to accept what he was most ready to offer, articles introducing and reviewing the works of German writers.

In 1835 he wrote for 'Blackvood's Magazine' a paper on Jean Paul Richter, including many well-translated quotations and a version of the "Legend of the Lorelei"; for the 'Foreign Quarterly Review,' a paper on Meuzel's 'German Literature,' and one on Goethe's 'Correspondence with Zelter and Bettina Brentano.' These, with some columns written for journals of secondary importance, brought him £97 for the year 1835, a sum nearly equivalent to his allowance. But the following years, although yielding sufficient money to pay his wants, fell short of this sum, and he was often painfully confronted with the rude fact that the world pays better the dull but essential labour employed in its material wellbeing than the exercise of fresh and willing powers for its mental advance.

In 1836 John Blackie contributed to the 'Foreign Quarterly Review' a paper on Prince PŁckler's 'New Tour,' and one on Eckermann's 'Conversations with Goethe,' and wrote other reviews of which it is unnecessary now to recover the traces.

He kept himself afloat with good-humoured courage, and played his part cheerily, as became a philosopher and a student of Greek. It is evident from the titles of some of his articles that he had resumed the study of Greek, which his reading for the Bar had interrupted. The fit of Wordsworthian fervour had passed away, and Goethe had resumed his ascendancy over a nature in which the latent possibilities were too varied to be long subjected to the empire of an influence more isolating than enlarging. He returned to Goethe with relief, recognising in him the working of that Hellenism which he was learning to appreciate at first hand, the large tolerance, the appreciation of "all things lovely and of good report," the moderation iii judgment and in action, the making for "equipoise of soul."

The Greek and Goethian "equipoise" was scarcely attainable by John Stuart Blackie, who was bound to colour every new result of his ethical education with fervent piety. His nature contained elements capable, indeed, of reaching "equipoise," but rather through the "Learn of me" of his Greek Testament than through the irresponsible development of the Greeks, or the elaborate self-culture of their German imitators. Still, in some things he achieved a conscious resemblance to his models, never perfect because it was marred by feelings which they did not possess, whose workings counteracted his tranquillity. He donned a panoply of calm against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," but had no gift of native invulnerability.

We do not know much of his life during these two years. His lodgings were in York Place or Dublin Street, and he entertained his friends to supper now and again. His gift of versifying was often called upon to distinguish, by appropriate squib or lyric, some festal gathering, and a handful of such songs remains, sung in their day to good old Scottish tunes.

"A Song of Good Fellows" commemorates the Juridical Society in the Session from 1834 to 1835, and is a humorous roll - call of its members. it begins:-

I'll sing you a song of no ancient date,
A good song of mighty good fellows,
With good hammering heads and good thundering hands,
And lungs like a good blowing bellows.
I'll sing you a song of good honest members
And presidents of a Society
That is famed for its learning, its wit, and its taste,
And for everything good but sobriety.

We can imagine the laughter which the neat portraits drew from all; and the singer did not spare himself:-

Then B—keye, strange jumble of nonsense and sense,
A thing half a song, half a sermon
I believe, that the fellow is made of good stuff
But his noddle is muddled with German.
Our wits he'd fain daze with his big foreign phrase,
His cant of "immutable reason,"
To bray like an ass, while for gods they would pass,
With your German savans is no treason.

A drinking-song levelled at the professions— medicine, law, theology, learning—expresses an epicurean contempt for their futility, and celebrates the superior philosophy of ''wine, woman, and song."

A graver ditty invites to "Sociality and Activity" on more temperate grounds, and this is a lyric of sufficient beauty to be quoted fully :-

The world drives on and we drive with it,
And none its course may stay;
When the swarm alights, we must hive with it,
And with it we must away.
In vain does son of man conceive
His single self so great;
No act of mortal can deceive
The measured chart of Fate.

Then away, away, adown the stream
With others let us go,
With friendly heart to share with them
Their cup of weal or woe.

When shines the sun, when falls the rain,
The cotter wends his plough;
When blows the wind, when rolls the main,
The sailor bends his prow.
The heart is glad, the heart is sad,
As time and chance allow
And happy never will he be
Who is not happy now.
Then away, away, &c.

In vain, in vain we cast our eye
Into the dreary void;
What was, what is to be, God veils
From ken of human pride.
He gave thine eye to see His light,
He gave thy blood to flow,
He gave thy hand to work with might
The work of life below.
Then away, away, &c.

'Tis now a race, 'tis now a march,
Now quick, and now 'tis slow;
'Tis now a proud triumphal arch,
And now a cottage low.
But still and still it drives along,
And none its course may stay;
Where the swarm alights, we must hive with it
And with it we must away.
Then away, away, &c.

Amongst his frequent companions about this time were his cousin Robert Wyld and a member of the Juridical Society, Robert Horn, who afterwards became Dean of Faculty. Dr Wyld records the little supper-parties in Dublin Street, where a "rizzared haddie" and a tumbler of toddy formed the time-honoured fare; for these were the days when Edinburgh still dined at four o'clock and supped lightly at nine, putting a kindly hospitality within the reach of all. They were the days, moreover, when guests brought with them the will to enjoy, and when neither host nor guest was so overpowered by the needless needs of a modern dinner that the courses stifled the talk. The memory of those suppers, when a dish of oysters and a haddock prefaced the steaming kettle and the ladles, still lingers in Edinburgh; but wealth, alas! has elected to migrate to its crescents and terraces, and to pile its dull fashions like a tumulus upon the old picturesque hospitality. Men came to talk, not to eat, and much excellent thinking had its apotheosis in acute or humorous give and take while the toddy-ladle made its guarded journey from rummer to glass.

It must have been in the summer of 1836 that John Blackie and Robert Wyld made a pedestrian tour along the south shore of the Firth of Forth, by Tantallon Castle to Berwick, up the valley of the Tweed to Kelso, and home by St Boswells, Minto, Galashiels, and Dalkeith. The tour was uneventful, their pockets were thinly lined, and they had to give up the Bass Rock in face of the greedy demands of the fishermen at Canty Bay; they breakfasted with Dr Aitken at Minto Manse, and made thence for Galashiels. By that time John Blackie's shoes struck work and had to be given up. Their combined funds were a mere remnant to be husbanded for bread and cheese. A new pair of shoes was impossible, so Robert Wyld surrendered his slippers, some sizes too big for his slender cousin, who shuffled along the coach-road to Dalkeith sombrely preoccupied by the effort to keep them on.

Another excursion in the following year introduced him to Bannockburn. His friend Robert Horn accompanied him this time. Mr Horn's home lay about three miles from Falkirk, and made a pleasant stage to which the travellers could return from their patriotic wanderings in its neighbourhood.

They left Edinburgh on the 21st of July, taking the coach through Linlithgow to Carron- vale, and visiting the iron-works two miles down the stream, whose bordering of pale willows re- minded John Blackie of the sad-coloured olive- yards of Italy. From Carronvale they made daily excursions to the various places hallowed by the memory of William Wallace, the hero of the little scholar at Mel-son's Academy, Graeme's tomb at Falkirk, Torwood Forest where Wallace lurked for shelter and vantage- ground, the remnants of Bruce's castle on a low wooded hill five miles north of Carronvale. Bannockburn and Stirling were got by heart. From Stirling the friends went forward on July 26, by the winding Forth, up the Teith, through Blair-Drummond to Doune. Here they halted, and came in for a campaigning speech by Mr Fox Maule to the electors of IDoune. They visited the castle, and set out for Dunblane, stopping at the "salmon cruive" on the Allan to make a note of its construction. Rain greeted them at Dunblane, and followed them as they wandered to the "'Bikes," to Blairlogie and Tillicoultry, but did not greatly spoil their enjoyment of the wooded Ochils.

They reserved the ascent of Ben Cleugh, the highest Ochil, for the following day, when the rain ceased. The hill, which rises just north of Tillicoultry, has a height of 2500 feet, but is not difficult to climb. Mist clung to its top, but parted as they climbed, and they gazed over its riven wreaths to the sunlight landscape below. They returned to Tillicoultry, and made their way to Kinross and to Turfhills, where they found rest and hospitality. On the last day of July the excursion ended, and they went back to Edinburgh by Dunferrnline and the steamer.

This walking tour is worthy of the foregoing detail, because it was noted by John Stuart Blackie in later life as having roused to a very marked degree the stirrings of his nature, which were sacred to Scottish influences and to Scottish associations. If Germany made a conquest of his mind, his heart belonged then and always to Scotland, and German thinking was vivified, illumined, and rectified by Scottish feeling.

The short diary which he kept of the ten days' movements includes no mention of his companions, but it seems certain that another young advocate, to be afterwards well known as the kindly and humorous Sheriff Logan, joined the friends before they left Carronvale.

They seem to have made a geological survey of the valleys and hill-ranges which they traversed, and every feature has its appropriate comment, basalt, trap, and sandstone, every volcanic hollow on the hills, every winding of the sauntering Forth, the springs upon the Ochils, the lines of their billowy slopes.

Another friend of those years was Mr Theodore Martin, who records of John Blackie that his life of strenuous industry, of genial and grateful temper, and of stainless purity, made him a model and example for his comrades in the struggle.


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