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NOTES OF GRATITUDE.

279

Such friends were worthy of the letters, full of gratitude, which they received from the Professor and his wife. Old Mr Blackie, staff in hand, made a glad pilgrimage to every shrine whose oracle had spoken for his son. can be imagined,—his cup was full.

His joy

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CHAPTER XII.

EDINBURGH.

1852-1857.

His very

PROFESSOR BLACKIE was the champion of the “forward movement” on the whole campaign of education, and particularly from the old campingground of University teaching, and it was in this position that men in advance of their day hailed him with hopeful welcome. freedom from sectarian exclusiveness, which had threatened to bar the way, helped to pacify the sectarians after the race was won. Just at first there were sinister murmurs that the Westminster Confession would brandish its flaming sword-with a dying menace-at the gates of Edinburgh University ; but these subsided, and his earlier signature was accepted without demur. As he offered a friendly front alike to the Dis

PARTING GIFTS AND REGRETS.

281

senting and to the Established Churches, no denomination could resist his genial unconsciousness of any lingering objection entertained by its own variety of Presbyterianism.

Aberdeen had long outlived its earlier prejudices against his opinions. The man himself was sound, in charity with all men, devout, diligent, a Christian. In Aberdeen there was a widespread regret mingled with the civic pride and congratulation. Divines and scholars alike acknowledged the distinction which he had conferred upon Marischal College, and which shone more conspicuously in the light of his promotion,—for the Aberdonians were not backward to admit merits which Edinburgh claimed from their midst.

His students at Marischal College had signed one of his most influential testimonials, and now offered him a valedictory gift of books. Those of his old students who were attending the Divinity classes in the Edinburgh Free Church College eagerly watched the contest for the Greek Chair, and were found tossing up their caps with enthusiasm at the result. They held, as is recorded in the letter of a fellow-student, that Blackie was the one candidate who could fill the Chair to their content; that although he could not transfer his own learning into less capacious

heads, he had the power to animate even the dullest with something of his fire and fervour ; that Edinburgh was in great need of just such a spirit in its classical lecture-rooms, where an amiable pedantry had brought study to something very like a standstill.

Personal friends at Aberdeen felt the loss of Professor and Mrs Blackie very keenly, and a large circle in Edinburgh prepared to receive them with hearty welcome. This circle numbered some old friends from Aberdeen, amongst them Professor and Mrs Gregory.

The Edinburgh of 1852 differed much from the Edinburgh of to-day. It was a smaller city, poor rather than rich, its social activities directed by an aristocracy of all the talents rather than by fashion and wealth. The Church, law, medicine, the University, literature and art, combined to produce its keen mental climate. Men's minds were braced into vigorous use in that contentious but wholesome air. They were distinguished and sought after, as they were individual, with wit, wisdom, skill, and conviction for their characteristics. They had not then the cheap qualifications for success which wealth bestows, and which send a languorous current throughout the social body, depressing what is noble and natural, accentuating what is conventional and unnecessary, vulgarising the energy which should be

EDINBURGH IN 1852.

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turned to real uses. Dr Guthrie, Dean Ramsay, Dr William Hanna, Lord Neaves, Lord Cockburn, Dr John Brown, Professor Aytoun, Mr Robert Chambers, Miss Catherine Sinclair, Mr D. 0. Hill, Mr George Harvey, Mr Noël Paton and his brother, Horatio Macculloch, Alexander Smith, are but a few significant names culled from the long social roll-call of that day. To cite all that was brilliant and particular would be to fill a chapter with names not yet forgotten. Christopher North was there, although his locks were tawny-white, and his massive form was seldom seen in the streets; but his blue eyes glistened still when he heard a new canto in the everlasting epic of the rod, and about his brows there hovered that far-derived heredity which linked him to Homeric days.

Amongst such friends the Blackies found a place prepared. They came to Edinburgh in March, and stayed with Mr Stodart in Drummond Place. In April the Professor gave a successful course of lectures at the Philosophical Institution on “ The Literature of Greece"; and in May, after his installation, he went to Cambridge, where he was the guest of Mr and Mrs Macmillan, and discussed with his host various forthcoming works which he already planned, and some of which indeed were begun.

One of his earliest cares was to come to a

a

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