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John Stuart Blackie
Chapter VIII. The Test Acts 1837 - 1840


AN invitation from Robert Wyld took John Blackie to Fifeshire some time in the autumn of 1837. Mr Wyld of Bonnington Bank had bought the property of Gilston, and spent the greater part of the year within its pleasant precincts. His family was large, consisting of seven Sons and five daughters, of whom the three eldest, Isabella, Marion, and Eliza, had reached young womanhood. The younger members of the family tailed off into the schoolroom and nursery by gradual descent. The girls, who had burst the chrysalis of schoolroom routine, leaving Mangnall in unconsidered shreds behind them, were tall and straight as young firs; and the tallest and straightest of the three was the youngest, Eliza. She resembled her father both in person and nature, was physically slender and swift, with plentiful fair hair and blue eyes, from which there rayed a ceaseless revelation of the proud, sensitive, loving, striving, strong, and noble soul within. She had reached her eighteenth year, loved her tender - hearted father loyally, stood somewhat in awe of her reserved and methodical mother, felt the upgrowth of intellectual cravings hard to satisfy at home,—of energies and emotions unemployed and unregarded.

When he arrived, John Blackie gravitated towards this cousin naturally and without loss of time. He looked ill, and was badly dressed; for then, as ever, his necessities were books, not coats and ties, and as he had not yet paid his yearly visit to Aberdeen, his wardrobe was in arrears for want of feminine touches and supplements. But he was quite unconscious of these defects, and was all his life prone to constant fresh surprise, when the "ever womanly" discerned the wear and tear in a habitual garment.

He was the most living, the most intellectual, the most rousing person whom Eliza Wyld had ever met, and it was no wonder that they drew together in mutual sympathy. She represented his ideal more nearly than any woman for whom he had felt a passing attraction; her stateliness of height and manner, her eyes telling in splendid sincerity the story of a nature too strong and far-reaching to veil itself in flimsy reserves, her eager interest in his interest, her generous appreciation of his powers and possibilities, all formed an irresistible magnet, and he sought her society from morning to night.

A tradition lingers of a dance at Gilston which happened during his visit, and in which he could take. no part, for the measured formalities of a tedious quadrille were impossible to one who could have danced with nymphs and fauns to the rhythm of the winds, but who laughed the dull reiterations of the ballroom to scorn. But his cousin had no escape from her duties, so it was arranged between them that he should sit in the recess of a window, and that at the close of every dance she should come back to him and mitigate the weary hours.

At last the mother's eyes opened to the fact of John's absorbed attention to the daughter. He was twenty-eight years old—had a profession, it is true; but what are briefless advocates? He was badly dressed, and Mrs Wyld was decorous in details; he looked ill, because a touch of old ailments had roughened his skin with a passing eruption; and as for his talents, they were reprehensible, of foreign extraction, heterodox, and unprofitable. So poor John Blackie was hidden go, and the cousins had to part, - although with mutual promise of a constant friendship.

John went to Aberdeen to spend the months which remained of his autumnal iholiday at home. It seems to have been during this time that a clever young sculptor, Alexander Ritchie, who had already made an excellent portrait bust of "Delta," and who (lied in the very dawn of his reputation, attracted by the "ethereal outline" of his features, asked leave to model the translator of 'Faust.' John J3lackie sat to him in Marischal Street, and the bust remains, the only likeness that we have of him at the stage of young manhood, it gives the clear cut features. the upward poise of his head, the tone of thought, the gravity and gentleness of his face in repose, and has, besides, that touch of poetic distinction which reveals enthusiasm and insight in the artist.

Its subject returned to Edinburgh to spend the winter of 1837 and the whole of 1838 in the old struggle for existence, disappointed at the Bar, laborious at his desk, with vivacious quip and ,jest in society, but with anxiety gnawing at his heart when he faced his prospects in solitude.

His chief articles for 1838 were one on "Jung Stilling and the Religious Literature of Germany," and one on "Muller's Eumenides and English and German Scholarship," both for the 'Foreign Quarterly Review.'

The latter was an attack on the whole school of English scholars, and boldly contrasted their industry and learning with those of German classical students. It was written hastily and perhaps rashly, but secured considerable attention.

He was occupied with Greek once more, and had begun a translation of the dramas of Æschylus. This work involved research into many questions which naturally belonged to it, and amongst these he took special pains with the interesting subject of metre, and particularly of Greek metre and music. Encouraged by Sir William Hamilton, he produced a long and valuable article, written in 1838, and published in The 'Foreign Quarterly Review' for July 1839, under the title of "Greek Rhythms and Metres."

This comprehensive study implied the purchase of many books, and their cost would have made havoc with his precarious income had not an occasional draft from Mr Blackie provided for this scholarly outlay, and left to his son the satisfaction of keeping body and soul together with the fees for his articles. This process, too, was fortified by frequent hampers from home. His work provoked a rhymed "Fantasy" of gods and goddesses, which indicates a transient inoculation from the manner of Keats and Shelley, as well as an effort to steep himself in Hellenic imaginings, and so refresh and support his understanding of the great dramatist.

The too ample leisure which his profession allotted to him was filled, therefore, with strenuous work and aims, and in a direction which was happily the right one for his career, although at one time he was distressed with sore misgivings on the subject. This conflict between his mental bent and his distasteful duties has frequent expression in his letters. In August 1836 he wrote to his father:-

I have still very serious doubts whether there are not certain natural defects in my mind which, along with the peculiarities of a self-conducted education, must for ever prevent me from rising to any eminence at the Bar. When to this I add the want of toughness in my physical constitution, and the overbalance of fire and feeling in my temperament, I am justified in not entertaining any very sanguine hope of my future success. But these anticipations of the future have, of course, nothing to do with my present duty, and I hope I shall be able to work on, notwithstanding the discouraging feelings that some- times arise within me, as happily and as laboriously as if I were in my own natural province—man and morals. The slowness with which Law gets into my stupid head is quite humiliating, and the speed with which it gets out again is remarkable.

This conflict lasted during the two years which followed, and on March 6, 1838, he thus sought the counsel of a friend :-

I have long had secret misgivings about my capacity for exercising the duties of the profession for which I hang out: my education has been altogether speculative and not very systematic, and I fear also the natural turn of my mind is anything but practical. You will therefore perform me an act of essential friendship—and, I think, you are the only person in Edinburgh who can do it— if you will give me a sincere answer to the following questions:

I. Whether you think there is anything in my character, my habit of mind, my natural capacities, that makes it almost a hopeless affair with me ever to attempt being a good lawyer?

II. Whether my deficiencies are sufficiently explicable on the theory of want of training in practical matters? No philosophy can teach a man to make a shoe.

III. If you think my defects not incurable, can you suggest to me any means by which they can be remedied? You may easily conceive how important a thing it is for me to have this matter cleared up. I will rather be a schoolmaster, though I hate the trade, than work for fees which I do not deserve. Therefore, as you love me, be honest, and say whatever you think is the truth. Your answer to the above questions may have a serious influence on my future fate and happiness.

We have no clue to this friend's answer; but perhaps it encouraged perseverance, as towards the end of 1838 we find him writing to his father :-

I hope to keep soul and body together, which is all that any mortal man has a title to in the first place. As to the Law, I believe I could by a long pull and a strong pull get on in that way yet. I yield to no obstacles.

But this conflict between inclination and necessity was nearing its close, to give way to a conflict in which both were victoriously allied against a common foe.

Marischal College stood alone amongst universities in the humiliating distinction of possessing no Latin Chair. The endowment of such a chair had been recommended by Sir Robert Peel's University Commission, and Mr Alexander Bannerman, the Aberdeen member of Parliament, was anxious to promote the recommendation by his influence with the Whig Ministry of that time. He succeeded in persuading the Government to establish the chair, and almost simultaneously he secured, through Lord John Russell, the Queen's command that Government should consult his wishes as to the choice of its first occupant. Mr Bannerman was an old friend of Mr Blackie's, and kept up a correspondence with him, which was chiefly concerned with Whig doings and Radical misdoings. Mr Blackie acquainted his friend in London with John's occupations and successes. The article on Greek Rhythm and its philosophy had made some stir, and Mr Bannerman was already aware of the writer's prestige as a Latinist. He asked him to send in testimonials of his fitness for a professorial post. These were amply forthcoming, signed by men eminent as scholars, amongst whom Sir William Hamilton, Professor Gerhard, and Professor Moir may be mentioned. They were deemed satisfactory; and Mr Bannerman's candidate received the appointment in May 1839, with the title of Regius Professor of Humanity in iarischa1 College. The question of emolument was not yet decided.

Dr Melvin, who had been made Rector of the Grammar-School in Aberdeen and Lecturer on Humanity in the College, was accounted the best Latinist of the city, and when the news of John Blackie's appointment arrived, his admirers were loud in denouncing what they declared to be a "Whig job." Melvin was a Tory, and although a minute and accurate grammarian, he belonged to the party in education wedded to old methods. Mr Bannerman sought to enlarge the scope and raise the standard of attainment in university teaching. His aim was one which Dr Melvin would have refused to further, while the younger man, who was appointed at his recommendation, was possessed with a keen recognition of the failure of an outworn pedantry to make the young, ardent students of a literature human and historical, in which nations speak aloud across two miflenniurns. The instinct for this human element in Latin, which German teaching had fostered in John Blackie, qualified him for the chair more than his acquaintance with the language, because the chair was to be a step in advance, not a mere final stage of schoolmastering. it was to form a source of stimulus, to cherish a living scholarship, not to impose a coping-stone upon a crumbling structure. It was hardly to be expected that Mr Bannerman would undergo the toil of getting a new chair endowed by Government for the sake of filling it with a Professor opposed to his own progressive views in education, although it was most natural that Dr Melvin's friends, who were justified in admiring the excellence of his teaching, should protest against the appointment of a younger man.

The appointment was made, however, and John Blackie held her Majesty's commission in which it was embodied. But, as he said long after, "I found a hindrance—a pentagram—in my way, like Mephistopheles, in virtue of which he could not get out and I could not get in."

This hindrance was the Westminster Confession of Faith. It was incumbent on all professors, both theological and other than theological, to sign the Calvinistic clauses of this tough and wordy document. Propounded in 1647, ratified by the Act of Security, and incorporated in the Union Treaty in 1707, it was provided that "all professors shall acknowledge and profess and shall subscribe to the Confession of Faith as the confession of their faith"; and further, "shall practise and conform to the worship presently in use in the Church of Scotland, and submit to the government and discipline thereof."

It had been the custom of not wholly conforming professors to subscribe the Confession of Faith with a reservation, which may be termed historical. An excellent divine explained that "the Confession of Faith was a compromise between antagonistic parties, and was purposely so worded that one chapter contradicted the other; and besides, the section which declared the Bible to be the only rule of faith to Protestants, contradicted the whole." He advised John Blackie to sign without "impertinent scruples." But, with accustomed conscientiousness, the latter betook himself to study of the Confession. He describes the results of his study in the " Notes" :-

At a distance I had seen no difficulty in the matter: it seemed to me that a theologian signed the articles in the strict sense, a layman more loosely. But on a nearer view this difference vanished. To sign a creed was to say that you believed the creed—that the creed was yours. When this conviction first flashed upon me, I was horrorstruck. I could not sign a Calvinist Confession of Faith without declaring myself a Calvinist: I could not sign any Confession of Faith without signing away my freedom of thought.

It seemed for a time as if there were no place in life for a man "who had sucked in the milk of truthfulness too long from the New Testament, to tolerate anything like double- dealing." He had come to Aberdeen on receiving the appointment; he had written in the first flush of gratification to his friend and cousin to seek the sympathy in success which he had long enjoyed in struggle; he saw opening before him the very career of which he had dreamed in Göttingen and Rome. And on its threshold lay this sinister portent, this "pentagram." it was impossible to subscribe. Father and friends urged every argument against his impracticable attitude. The example of Dr Paley, of countless clergymen whose lives declared their piety, was pressed upon him. At last a way was opened which promised an honest compromise. He could not subscribe simpliciter: he might sub- scribe with a declaration of his attitude, which, publicly made and publicly advertised, should inform those concerned that his subscription did not imply an avowal of the creed each clause expressed, but an agreement to respect that creed in the exercise of his professorial duties.

His signature had to be affixed in presence of the moderator and members of the Presbytery of Aberdeen. These met on July 2 at the East Church session-house in full conclave, and were duly constituted, the Rev. Adam Corbett being moderator. The varied business of this Presbytery meeting included its witness of John Stuart Blackie's signature of the Confession of Faith, and its grant to him of a certificate testifying to such signature, which certificate it was incumbent on him to present to the Senatus Academicus of Marischal College before the latter body could receive him into membership and instal him in the Humanity Chair. He presented himself at the meeting, signed the Confession, and then, before the clerk handed over his certificate, he rose and made the following declaration :-

I wish it to be distinctly understood, and I request that the clerk be ordered to put it on record, that I have signed the Confession of Faith, not as my private confession of faith, nor as a churchman learned in theology, but in my public professorial capacity, and in reference to University offices and duties merely. I am a warm friend of the Church of Scotland, and have been accustomed to worship according to the Presbyterian form, and will continue to do so, but I am not sufficiently learned in theology to be able to decide on many articles of the Confession of Faith.

Mr Pine, one of the members of Presbytery, said "that this declaration should have been made prior to signing, but that the Presbytery sitting there had nothing to do with any gentleman's mental reservations, and further, that such explanations could not be put on record."

John Blackie gave notice that if his explanation were not entered on the books of the Presbytery, it would appear in the public papers. The certificate was then completed and handed to him.

That evening he sent a copy of his declaration to the editors of the two leading newspapers in Aberdeen, and it appeared along with an account of the Presbytery proceedings in the 'Aberdeen Constitutional' on July 5th, while the 'Aberdeen Journal' contained a similar report in its issue of the same date. The editor of the former newspaper published, besides the declaration, the letter in which it was embodied, a step not contemplated by the writer, who had expressed the context somewhat rashly; and in a letter to the editor of the 'Aberdeen Journal,' written for publication and appearing in the issue of July 10, he desired that the phrases in question should be held "pro non scripta," but he maintained: "I deem it beyond my power as a man of honour to alter or modify in any way the phraseology of the declaration I thought it my duty to make before the Presbytery."

The publication of these letters and of the test of his declaration roused a nest of clerical hornets, and it is interesting to note that the members of Presbytery who were most powerfully stirred to take action were mainly men of the Evangelical party, which fourteen years later was to effect the abolition of University Tests.

The Rev. Adam Corbett issued a circular to the members of Presbytery on July 13, convening a meeting for August 12, to consider John Blackie's letters in the Aberdeen papers. A full meeting assembled, which included Dr Forbes and Dr Forsyth. The obnoxious documents were produced and read. Mr James Edmond, Advocate, then appeared on behalf of representatives of most of the Aberdeen parishes, and presented a petition signed by a formidable array of elders, defenders of the Confession. This petition protested against the certificate granted to John Stuart Blackie, on the ground that he had not given the unqualified acknowledgment and profession of the Confession of Faith which, the petitioners held, was required by law.

Mr Edmond, after presenting this petition, subjoined a paper which offered proofs of the allegations contained in the petition, and both documents were ordered to be authenticated by the moderator and clerk. These proofs were the letters and declaration by John Blackie printed in the Aberdeen newspapers. The Presbytery, after deliberation, decided to call a meeting for September 3, and to cite John Stuart Blackie to appear on that day to make satisfactory explanation, and in the meantime to forfeit his certificate until such explanation was made.

It had not occurred to the reverend body that the last decision was not within its legal power, and he, being better advised, retained his certificate. He went to Edinburgh and there consulted several legal friends, amongst whom Mr Robert Horn and Mr Barron - a hard-headed lawyer from Aberdeen—may be noted. He supplied them with full notes of the two meetings of Presbytery, and of his citation to appear before that convened for September 3. Both gentlemen sent him opinions on his position, and advised him to decline the jurisdiction of the Presbytery with regard to his certificate and appearance in person, but to meet their ruling to the extent of sending a written explanation in the hands of an advocate, who should represent him on September 3.

Mr Alexander Anderson therefore received his instructions in the case, and laid on the table on that day a letter from his client, which had been written with serious deliberation, and expressed his position as fully as it was necessary to do, and which the importance of this episode in John Blackie's life, not only to himself but to the release from bondage of the whole body of Scottish education, entitles to full quotation:

EDINBURGH, 29th August 1839.
To the Reverend the Moderator
of the Presbytery of Aberdeen.

REVEREND SIR,—I have to acknowledge receipt of an extract of the proceedings of the Presbytery of Aberdeen at their meeting of the 12th instant, and of a citation to appear before them on the 3d proximo, to answer the matters therein set forth. In availing myself of this opportunity afforded by the Presbytery of offering any explanation I may think fit in regard to the matters that were brought under the view of the Presbytery at the meeting above mentioned, I wish it to be understood that I do so without in any way admitting their legal right of interfering under the circumstances—a right which on various grounds I am advised does not exist. I am influenced in so doing only by the sincere respect and regard which I feel for the Church of Scotland, and the desire of acknowledging and meeting in a corresponding spirit the kindly disposition towards me evinced by the Presbytery, when they invited explanations on my part as to the charge which has formed the subject of discussion. When I subscribed the Confession of Faith at the meeting of Presbytery on 2d July, I thought it due to the Presbytery as well as to myself to explain, first, that although a sincere friend of the Church of Scotland and accustomed to worship according to its form, yet being a layman and no theologian, I could not pretend to have so studied the Confession of Faith as to be able to decide on many of its articles; and, second, that I understood the confession of faith by a non-theological professor to be required of him by the law, not as his private confession of faith, but only in his public professional capacity, and in reference to University offices and duties. The Presbytery declined to put any such explanation on record, but they (lid not, after hearing the statement thus publicly made, think that it afforded any ground for refusing to grant the certificate of my having adhibited my subscription in terms of the Act of Parliament. The certificate was accordingly granted. I cannot perceive that anything has since occurred to alter the position in which the matter stood when the certificate was granted by the Presbytery. The proceedings before them were public, the discussion which had taken place was reported in one newspaper without any interference on my part, and nothing but the wish that what had been said should be fairly stated induced me to communicate to another newspaper what appeared to me a more correct report of the observations I had made. I am not aware that it is disputed that the communication addressed by me to the editor of the 'Constitutional' is in exact- accordance with the explanation which I thought it right to offer to the Presbytery on the occasion of my subscription. Why therefore it should form a separate and substantial ground for proceedings, which the Presbytery did not think it necessary to take in consequence of the declaration itself, I am at a loss to imagine. If the observations publicly made by me did not form a ground for refusing the certificate of subscription, a report of the proceedings addressed by me to one newspaper after a somewhat defective report had appeared in another, cannot alter the state of the case. Of course, I can take no account of any extraneous observations in reference to this matter made public by a misunderstanding, without my authority, and which, so soon as I was led to understand that they had been cause of offence to parties concerned, I promptly and publicly disowned. In regard to the import of the observations themselves, I trust that the Presbytery, viewing the matter with that candour which I anticipate at their hands, will consider the explanation I have now to offer as satisfactory.

In stating that "I had subscribed the Confession of Faith, not as my private confession of faith, nor as a churchman learned in theology, but in my public professional capacity, and in reference to University offices and duties merely," and that I was not "sufficiently learned in theology to be able to decide on many articles of the Confession of Faith," I adverted to a distinction that seemed to me well founded both in reason and in law. I conceive that in conscience I stand in a different situation in regard to the profession and subscription of the Confession of Faith from one appointed to a chair of theology, or an office iii the Church, either of whom as a public expounder of Christian doctrine is to be understood by his subscription of the Confession of Faith as declaring that he has thoroughly studied it, and voluntarily comes forward to confess his ripe and deliberate assent to every matter therein set forth. But a non-theological professor in a University stands in a different situation. He does not profess to be a scientific theologian, or to have studied and digested every part that may occur in such a comprehensive system as that embodied in the Confession of Faith. I cannot but be sensible that I am so circumstanced with regard to that Confession, and that it would be presumption in me to assert or believe that I had mastered every proposition which it contains so as to understand them in the precise sense in which they are understood by the Church. I hold, therefore, that the requisition of the law is sufficiently complied with by a professor holding a non-theological chair when he publicly subscribes the Confession of Faith as I have done, and gives the State thereby in behalf of the Church a guarantee, in the words of the Act of Assembly 1711, "That he shall teach in the chair to which he has been appointed nothing contrary to, or inconsistent with, the Confession of Faith of the Church of Scotland, or to the doctrine, discipline, and government of the same."

I trust the explanations now made, which are offered with sincere respect for the Presbytery, and an anxious wish to bring that matter to an amicable issue, will be deemed satisfactory. I am most unwilling to raise questions of power and jurisdiction where I believe that a disposition to receive a reasonable explanation exists, and that such an explanation can be offered. Should it be otherwise, however, I cannot, consistently with the opinions I have received from my advisers, admit the right of the Presbytery either to recall or suspend the certificate they have already granted, or to exercise any such jurisdiction as is assumed in their present proceedings. Under the Statute of Queen Anne and previous Acts, I am advised, their powers in reference to the subscription of the Confession of Faith are merely ministerial; that after subscription has been adhibited they are bound to grant certificate of that fact; and that at all events they have no power to recall a certificate already granted.

On these grounds, should it be necessary to urge them, I respectfully decline the jurisdiction of the Presbytery in the present proceedings. However unwilling I may be to engage in such a discussion (and no man can be more solicitous to avoid it), it would not become me, an humble individual, to admit a jurisdiction which I am advised is, to say the least of it, of doubtful existence, and which, if allowed, affects not me only, but the University at large, and indeed all the Universities of Scotland. As little, of course, can I expect that the reverend Presbytery should recede from their position; and if they be satisfied, as I trust they may, with the explanation I have now given, they will of course be understood to accept it without prejudice to the rights of the Church on the point of jurisdiction.—Holograph of me, JOHN STUART BLACKIE.

This letter was read to a full Presbytery, and was authenticated in due course. It was a direct blow, an attack on what may be termed the temporal power of the Church of Scotland. Something of lèse-majesté in its tone affronted the immediate dignity of the Presbytery of Aberdeen, and it is not surprising that a motion was introduced and seconded condemning the explanation offered as "unsatisfactory." Dr Forbes of Old Machar and Dr Forsyth sought to amend the motion by proposing to refer the whole matter to the next meeting of Synod, but they were not supported, and the Presbytery carried, against their dissent, the final motion that "Mr John Stuart Blackie has not signed the Confession of Faith as the confession of his faith in conformity with the terms of the Act of Parliament; and further, that he does not consider himself bound by the formula signed by him on the 2d day of July last."

The reverend body sent copies of this finding to the Principal and Secretary of the Senatus Academicus, a timid corporation, which might at this juncture have stepped into the breach and inscribed the champion of academical liberty upon its roil-call, but which preferred "not to proceed to fix a day for the admission of Mr Blackie while the obstacle or objection created by the Presbytery's finding remains." The Professors of Marischal College were, as a matter of fact, supporters of Dr Melvin, who had given the extra lectures on Latin since 1836, and they were not unhopeful that, should the Presbytery succeed in quashing Mr Blackie's appointment, their candidate might take his place.

Their attitude decided the next step for the Professor-elect. The Queen's Commission was in his hands, so was the Aberdeen Presbytery's certificate that he had signed the Confession of Faith. He raised an action of declarator against the Senatus Academicus of the Aberdeen University. Its members shirked the contest, and put forward the Presbytery as the real party in defence. That body lodged a minute craving to be sisted as defenders, and engaged Mr Neaves to plead their cause. Mr Robert Hunter represented John Blackie, and the case came before Lord Cunninghame. It was decided in favour of the pursuer on the ground "that the Presbytery had no title to appear—their duty in the matter of witnessing a subscription being ministerial only." His Lordship held that Professor Blackie's error "lay in his thinking it necessary to state in any form that which all mankind would have implied." The Presbytery wished to appeal to the Inner House, but the case was refused, and they had to be contented with paying only their own costs, while the Professor discharged those with which the proceedings had saddled him. These were beyond his own means, but Miss Manie Stodart came to the rescue and lent him the money needed.

This case was one of much greater importance than at first appeared. The University Test Acts, how necessary so ever they were, when they were first made binding, for the preservation of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, and for the exclusion of the leaven of Episcopacy from the national schools and universities, had fulfilled their purpose, and cumbered now the growth which once they guarded. They were a stumbling-block to the thoughtful, a formula accepted with closed eyes by the worldly-wise. The men who most obstinately opposed John Stuart Blackie's election, incapable of appreciating his deep-seated piety, which was of the spirit and therefore living, submitting to no trammels of the letter, were honest enough according to their lights, which imposed a political document upon the conscience, and made its clauses more binding than the eternal laws of God. Their zeal was undeniable,—they were the men who, four years later, sacrificed manse and stipend for conscience' sake, and, with the superb inconsistency of enthusiasts, left the very Church whose connection with the State and whose hold upon education they had so strenuously upheld. The Disruption took place in 1843, and ten years later the men who made the Disruption, finding themselves ex- eluded from the chief places in Scottish Universities, effected an abolition of University Tests, which confined subscription of the Confession of Faith to Professors of Divinity,—a remnant of the ancient order which has recently been swept away.

Two years elapsed between the meeting of Presbytery on July 2, 1839, and the failure of the same body to establish by law their finding against Professor Blackie. He spent these years in Edinburgh, taking up his old quarters in Dublin Street. He was occupied as before in writing for the Reviews and Magazines, in the study of Greek, and particularly of the dramas of schylus and of Euripides, and in the study of German Literature.

In the 'Foreign Quarterly Review' for January 1840 he published a paper on the 'Memoirs of Rahel,' and in July one upon 'Euripides,' while in the same year he wrote for 'Blackwood's Magazine' no fewer than three articles,—one in July upon Weber's 'Germany,' one in October upon the "Austrians," and one in December called "Reminiscences of 1813 in Germany." To 'Tait's Magazine' he contributed in the same year a series of articles on "Student "Student Life in Germany," giving some of the student songs with their melodies. Other articles were on the "Rights of the Christian People" and on "Apostolical Succession"; while he supplied the Poet's Corner in the same Magazine with "My Loves," "Night," and the "Wail of an Idol."

Of all this work, the Burschen songs, translated into spirited English, naturally became most popular. A friend wrote from St Lucia:

What a pity you are not here to sing your own German translations, which have found their way out here! The Chief-Justice [Reddie, an old Gottingen Bursch] was most anxious to know who had done the "Landesvater" into English, as well as the other ballads. I, of course, told him; not forgetting the summons of declarator, and all about the subscription of articles. The Justice sends his best acknowledgments to you, and begs you may per- severe, and succeed alike in your versions and in your declarator.

Dr Kirchner, the translator of 'Self-Culture' into German, acknowledged in generous terms, in an obituary notice of Professor Blackie, the valuable work done in those years of stress and struggle on behalf of German literature, and ranked him with Thomas Carlyle in this field of labour.

His friend Mr Anderson of Banchory was also much pleased with the Bursehen songs, and somewhat surprised at his taking up historical subjects. He wrote a pregnant word of advice on this:

It is extremely useless to launch on such an ocean without a well-defined course and port of arrival. It will not do to hunt all and sundry game that may start up in this immense forest. Read always with a pen in your hand, an eye for opposite sides—with a deep slow pulse of thought, and a clear steady notion of your own stand- point or whereabouts.

And in reference to the declarator:

I trust that as interdicts are in fashion, at least against clergymen, you will not fail to get one more, or whatever else may be necessary for your installation in a very pretty building about seventeen miles from the manse of Banchory.

Amongst his private interests was the correspondence which he maintained with Miss Eliza Wyld. The ardour with which this had been inaugurated had mellowed into tranquil friendship. He supplied his cousin with books, and drew from her the vivid criticisms which her rapid discernment suggested. He was much interested in her views of all the questions which occupied his own mind, and in one letter of 1840 alluded to his debt to her in "ideas." This letter speaks of an illness from which she was suffering.

I shall be glad [he says] to hear that you have recovered your wonted health and—spirits I need not add, for I am told you amused yourself making faces at the doctor all the time the grave fool was bleeding you for a complaint he did not understand.

But the high spirits were perhaps due to a touch of fever, for the deeper mind of Eliza Wyld was hostile to such freaks, and a slight delicacy of constitution had imparted to it a tendency to melancholy, strangely consorted with her swift movements and responsiveness to jest and humour. She already desired as her ideal temperament "contentment," to which John Blackie characteristically replied:

The law of the universe is Perfectionation—that is to say, progression from had to good, from good to better, and from better to best. And this progression is effected by activity. We make the Sabbath the first day of the week—very foolish! It is and was the last day of the week, and is a symbol of enjoyment in work done during the six days that precede, work being the very perfect business and definition of life.

There was no doubt in his own mind about his duty. He set to work, without a murmur against Presbytery or University, biding his time in respect of both, and flinging himself with spirit, proof against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," into the tasks that lay to hand.

A glimpse of his exuberance in costume at this time is given in some doggerel lines by Mr Robert Horn, from which we may borrow a descriptive couplet:

"He'll flourish bludgeons and wear tartan breeks,
A monstrous stock, and long hair o'er the cheeks."

No doubt the Professor-elect startled the staid proprieties of Moray Place in garb which verged on the casual and not on the modish.


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