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How many works are thrown by after perusal! There are, however, others which, when once read, are still returned to with increased pleasure and instruction. Amongst the latter may be classed the "Life and Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel John Blackader,” and our readers will probably be glad to have their attention directed to a volume which is not so generally known as it deserves to be. It is a heart-book, and shows the workings of the mind of a conscientious man. His struggles have been those of all men, although they may not have to gain their experience in the "tented field." As the Diary was never intended for the public gaze, the entries therein are the more valuable; we may not, indeed, have to share in the actions of warriors of our time; but, like him, we have to sustain a conflict with enemies in our own hearts, the victories over whom are fully equal to those gained by the greatest conquerors. The original manuscripts were preserved in a singular manner; after being overlooked for many years, they were sold with other papers to a tobacconist of Stirling, who rescued them from destruction. The subject of this paper was the son of the Rev. John Blackader, and was born in the parish of Glencairn, on the 14th of September, 1664. His father was minister of Troqueer, in the presbytery of Dumfries, and was expelled, at the restoration of Charles II., for non-compliance with episco
pacy, which the government attempted to force on the Scottish people. Nothing has been preserved of young Blackader's earlier years, save his fondness for frequenting conventicles and communions, which were celebrated in the open fields. Frequent allusions, amid the din of battles, and the profligacy too common in camps, to these gatherings, are contained in his papers to the sweet counsel" which he had held with some friend on these occasions. His first appointment to the army, was in the regiment enrolled at the time of the Revolution, now the Twenty-sixth of the Line, which has since retained its title of Cameronians. The devotional spirit of the officers and men, caused it to be scoffingly named the Psalm-singing regiment;" but their piety did not render them less brave and enterprising, as was testified upon such memorable fields as Steenkirk, Blenheim, and Ramillies. Space will not permit the detail of his earlier services; suffice it to say, that two years after the battle of Dunkeld, in 1689, he proceeded with his regiment to Flanders, and was present at most of the engagements fought by King William in that country, without receiving a wound. It was not, however, until the year 1700 that his Diary commenced; the first entry is as follows:
"October, 1700.-I complain, that though welldirected in business, better than could be expected, yet I am not thankful. My life is a struggle, as it were, between faith and corrupt nature,-a combat, in which sometimes strengthening grace prevails, sometimes earthly affections and sensual appetites gain ground, yet partly involuntary."
Many, if they kept a book of their thoughts and
actions, would have to record something like the foregoing; it should make all act upon the advice of Burns, no mean authority on the subject, when he
In the following month, November, occurs this singular entry
Dejected and dissatisfied with myself, the more from my wretchedness and want of settled employment. I am sensible of this my infirmity. Solitude is the nursery of melancholy. Tried to divert it by amusement, and, as a frolicksome experiment, went to see a comedie. More convinced of the folly and vanity of worldly pleasures. Faith is the best remedy, but too little used . . . My resolution is, to live more by faith, and converse less with carnal and worldly men. This places me, as it were, between Scylla and Charybdis; too much company dissipates the mind, and gives it an earthly 'sett;' too much retirement from conversation sours the temper, makes it morose, chagrined, unsocial. Melancholy is no friend to grace, and a great enemy to religion."
At the commencement of a new year (1701), our hero makes resolutions to improve his time; but regrets that "foolish and idle amusements" are great hindrances. Is conscious that his "is but a freshweather belief, and has never yet been in any great storm. It is like a weak anchor, that slips in the least gale." A prayer is then added for strength to increase
it, and that anxiety, fear, and distrust may be excluded. Shortly afterwards he writes, "I regret that my conversation and discourse is so idle, trifling, and unprofitable. It answers no solid purpose when the company is not made better by it . . . . I dare not converse with, or haunt that company which the world calls good and genteel. I think no graceless debauched company can be good or genteel, be they of ever so great quality. Perhaps this wrongs my reputation among fashionable people, but I value not their opinion." On the 20th of July, 1701, "a solitary Sabbath at sea," he appears to have gone up in the afternoon to the cradle at the top of the mast “to be retired;" but had not spent much time in prayer and meditation, when there arose a fresh gale, which obliged him to come down in great haste, and the seamen to handle their sails.
He had, at this period, determined to change his single and solitary life; and in this event he en deavours to obtain a prognostication or special interposition of Providence; and happening, within halfan-hour afterwards, to fall unexpectedly into the company of Mrs. Blackader, in perspective, he looked upon it as somewhat observable, and "encouraging me to go on." They were married on the 4th of February, 1702, and although a family was denied them, their mutual affections did not abate. He cherished for her an ardent and steady attachment; she accompanied him to the Continent, and during the campaigns generally remained in some of the Dutch frontier towns.
The war of the Spanish succession occasioned his regiment to be ordered to Flanders, to form part