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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.
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
A TENDER PASSION.
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 un
John Blackie was bidden 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 holiday 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 died in the very dawn of his reputation, attracted by the “ethereal outline” of his features, asked leave to model the translator of Faust.' John Blackie 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 Ger