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IN SUMMER QUARTERS.
by his father and mother. They had hoped to go farther afield, but their finances were under heavy embargo for the first few years. There were expenses for furniture, for books; there was interest to be paid to Aunt Manie for some hundreds of pounds; the young wife had condemned her husband's casually assorted wardrobe, and had insisted upon its reconstitution : her talent for domestic economy, notable and helpful as it was to prove, needed a starting-point of indispensable expenditure. Besides, the Professor's objection to the cramped limits of the house in Dee Street was waxing imperious. She was aware of an imminent fitting, and it had to be reckoned with in her balance-sheet. So the summer months passed quietly in the little village of BanchoryTernan, and the companionship of Mr Anderson made them memorable.
ABERDEEN AND UNIVERSITY REFORM.
During the first year of his work in Aberdeen, Professor Blackie's public and private engagements interrupted the flow of his contributions to magazine literature. But after marriage he returned to this field of labour, and during his leisure hours in the following winter he prepared a review of Klopstock's collected works, which appeared in the Foreign Quarterly Review' for January 1843; and an article on Professor Steffens's personal memoirs of the German movement against Napoleon, for the April number of the same Review
Before the session began he made a second effort to secure his full professorial fees, and gained a partial victory over the grudging
Senate. He secured a fee of two guineas from each student of the second class for three hours' teaching. This raised his full salary to about £350, a sum which when mulcted of the interest due to Miss Stodart, of the payments expected from Scotch Professors to public and ceremonious demands, of the money spent on essential books -left a mere sufficiency for current needs and private charities.
But Mrs Blackie brought to the management of this small income a singular gift for wise economy; and wholesome food, books,
, and warmth were always forthcoming, although these excluded every amenity of home embellishment for some years. It was a trial to her fine taste to endure the horse-hair chairs and sofas which meagrely furnished their little parlours; but her hand had the magic touch which gives grace,
and these stiff essentials, anew distributed, grew pliant and comfortable at her desire. She sped from room to room, pouncing upon disorder and making home fair and friendly to the eye, with such swift movement and sure hand, that her husband called her “ Oke,” the swift
,” the swift one, and the name clung to her always.
When the session was over, they moved from Dee Street in New Aberdeen to High Street, close to the Town-hall of Old Aberdeen. Here, for £30 a-year, they got a charming house, one of its sitting-rooms thirty feet long, in which the Professor could march from end to end, while he rolled out the lines of strophe and antistrophe from “ Agamemnon ” or “The Eumenides.” They were here in closer social touch with their circle of friends who lived in Old Aberdeen. The courtesies of the academical world were solemn, and they were relieved to live amongst friendly folks, whose incomes were small like their own, and whose kindliness adorned their hospitalities. The Gerards, Principal and Mrs Jack, Dr and Mrs Forbes, the Buchans, Professor and Mrs Gregory, and
maiden ladies old and young, who lived in pleasant little homes, and suggested to the Professor the title of Parthenopolis for Old Aberdeen, welcomed him and Mrs Blackie to their quarter. They were both great favourites in the City of Spinsters, where there were many tea-drinkings and junketings, cheery and informal.
But in spite of this change for the better, a fit of the old dejection seems to have lured John Blackie into its depths about the very time that the flitting was accomplished. Perhaps he was overworked, and the strain of his gallant fight against prejudice and stupidity was beginning to tell. Unhappily, too, some book of Unitarian sermons had drifted into the current of his life, and he had thought fit to read them. They set
FRESH RELIGIOUS DIFFICULTIES.
in motion that flickering pulse of unbelief which beats intermittently in every serious mind. He began to waste his strength once more in vain questionings, letting his faith ebb. More was due to physical exhaustion than to mental change. He was worn out with the duties of the session, which he supplemented with such strenuous undertakings at home. Besides, the government of his class was always a serious difficulty. It was most distasteful to him to pose as a stern taskmaster, and by fines and impositions to secure respect from youths whom he would gladly have greeted as fellow-students, and the disorder, over which the pedagogue and not the man prevailed, discouraged him daily. As he never bent to the storm, it was not wonderful that the spring should have found him worn out. Besides, he was subject to a recurrent ailment at that season which must of itself have reduced his strength.
There is no doubt that he reviewed his position under the influence of these conditions, and fell into sore distress. It seemed to him that he must give up the Humanity Chair, become perilous to one at variance not only with the Calvinism which overshadowed it, but with the fundamental doctrine of Christianity. He wrote to Mr Anderson of Banchory for advice, and in the meantime
withdrawn into silence and depression. His wife sought in vain to comfort