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Prussian Court from all but titled persons and those whom the King desired to honour.
A pleasant young Irishman, Mr Jackson, came late in January to study in Berlin, and was particularly commended to John Blackie's companionship. He was full of vivacity, and having, as he said, “no tendency so strong as that of cutting throats,” he meant to go into the army. Together they spent their short intervals of leisure, and Mr Jackson introduced his friend to an old Scottish lady who had lived thirty years in Berlin, and at whose house he met other compatriots.
Altogether, his residence in Berlin was bright, profitable, untroubled time, his health nowise injured by the three months of keen frost which characterised that winter, and which, coming after a heavy fall of snow, made the ways impassable for wheeled vehicles, so that sledges filled the streets.
In a letter written early in February, he describes an interesting conversation which he had enjoyed with Neander. Its subject was Dr Paulus of Heidelberg, and his interpretation of the Gospel story according to the “new light” of rationalism, which took all possible liberties with the text in order to rob it of its spiritual signifi
Neander described to him how Paulus
PROJECTED JOURNEY TO ITALY.
treated the “one thing needful” alluded to by our Lord in His gentle admonition to Martha. “Dear Martha,” he interpreted, "you have indeed shown a laudable diligence in preparing a meal for me. I take it very kind,
very kind, but you have neglected one dish, which is better than all the rest; this you must also make ready.” And Neander added : “What this dish was, Paulus, who is fond of good eating, knows best himself.”
He gives an account of the church attendance in Berlin, which compared favourably with what he had observed in Göttingen; but this was not surprising, for in Berlin the pulpits were filled by men of learning and persuasive power, like Schleiermacher and Strauss, who preached in churches crowded to the door.
In February he began to take lessons in Italian, giving himself six weeks to attain as much knowledge of that language as would suffice for travelling needs. His plan was to wait in Berlin till John and Francis Forbes joined him, and after a few days spent in showing them the sights of the Prussian capital, to start together on a roundabout route for Italy, intending to reach Rome early in May, and there to spend three months, coming north to Switzerland and France for the autumn, and then returning to Berlin. The plan was partially carried out, as we shall
see, but Rome proved too mighty a study and too potent a magnet to release him quite so soon.
Early in March he wrote to Mrs Blackie a letter full of gratitude for some words of loving commendation which she had sent him, and which had greatly cheered him. His enjoyment of the advantages which Mr Blackie's generosity provided for him made him very sensible of that generosity, and his desire to profit by them in all ways which were sure to please his father is evident in every letter. That his studiousness, earnestness, and intellectual advance had given pleasure at home this letter testifies, and it must have compensated for many an anxious moment.
In the same letter occurs an amusing passage about women.
Perhaps the fair Minna had proved ungracious in a recent interview, for he declares in a burst of petulance that "girls are no better than painted dolls,” and then proceeds to elaborate that portrait of his “ideal woman which haunts the brain of young enthusiasts, with whom, if the marvel existed, they deem themselves quite fitted to mate. He adds the saving clause, however, that if he ever found her, it is a hundred to one against the chance that she would look on him with favour.
His stay in Berlin was wearing to a close. It had been of great service to him. When summing
RESULTS OF GERMAN RESIDENCE.
up the results of his student life in Göttingen and Berlin many years afterwards, he wrote
At the conclusion of the winter session in Berlin I found myself perfectly master of the German language, thoughtfully read in some of the best German classics, and learning to speculate slowly and thoughtfully under some of the best German influences. But there was a want of speciality about me. I was neither a theologian nor a philosopher, a philologer nor a poet-just a young man on his travels learning to live and to feel and to think, with theological tendencies and a possible theological destiny. I left Germany with a warm side towards the German people, which I have retained through life. Their simplicity, truthfulness, and unaffected naturalness; their thoughtfulness, honesty of research, accuracy of learning, and breadth of generalisation; their kindliness, frankness, and true-heartedness were just the sort of virtues that had a peculiar attraction for me. I was glad to learn from them. For many years I went about in the world oppressed with nothing so much as a feeling of my own ignorance and stupidity. This feeling made me constantly open and eager to learn; and this eagerness to learn led by slow degrees to the attainment of a certain amount of wisdom.
John BLACKIE was hurried away from Berlin by his impetuous friends, John and Francis Forbes, who arrived on the scene earlier than they were expected, and stayed a much shorter time than was quite convenient. Excellent fellows as they were, their patriotism was of that type which scorns to be greatly interested in foreign sights, and it disposed them to make short work of a tour imposed upon them by the paternal wisdom, but offering no particular attractions to sound Calvinists and practical Aberdonians. Francis scouted as ridiculous John Blackie's assertion that he could stop a week at every place they passed, and being a masterful spirit, he swept the little party forward. Now and then