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speaking in my conscience, there were moments when I thought of venturing on the unhallowed ground, however dreadful might be the consequences. But God did not leave me to myself. The resolution of engaging in what should be of bad result, or even productive of only negative good, vanished before it was made, and my soul trembled at the recollection of it.” There can be no doubt that his intense labour, first, in study preparatory to his professional engagements, and then, in the comparatively rapid composition of his poem, working on a frame thus acutely suffering from the influence of an anxious mind on the nerves, greatly contributed to the complete developement of the disease which, so soon after his poem was published, but when he had been permitted to see its triumphant success, abridged his course of time, and removed him to eternity.
To his divinity studies he devoted himself with unremitting attention, and evidently with success. In May, 1827, having passed through the various prescribed forms, he was licensed to “preach the Gospel,” under the inspection of the Associate Synod.
It was while going through these studies that, after much thought, he commenced, early in December, 1824, the work by which his name will live in British literature. Poetry had long been his favourite study, and he had engaged in a critical survey of the standard poets ; learning what poetry was, and how poets had written, before he wrote poetry himself. Indeed it is a remarkable and instructive fact, that, in the way of off-hand poetry he wrote almost nothing. He did not waste his strength by writing before he knew what and how to write; and his self-denial received its reward. Whatever occurred to him, either in thinking or reading, that might be serviceable to him in his work, he carefully noted down. And nineteen months after its commencement, in July, 1826, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, the “Course of Time ” was finished. It ought not to be forgotten that as he had conscientiously determined that it should be a religious poem, such a one as man, mortal and immortal, might write or read, without injury, and with benefit, his Bible was always open by his side, and morning and evening he sought divine direction and aid.
In November, 1826, he put his manuscript into the hands of Mr. Blackwood, of Edinburgh. That eminent publisher consulted Professor Wilson, and others, who strongly advised its publication. And on the 24th of March, 1827, it was given to the world, and took at once the high position which it deserved, and which it has never left. It is now one of the stock-books of English poetry.
But its author had finished his work. He had borne a noble testimony to truth, and gratefully learned the approbation with which his book had been received : he himself, however, was rapidly declining. His friends feared consumption; and their worst fears were soon justified by the issue. Every attention was paid to him. Comforts were poured upon him by friends, and he had the very best medical attention. Besides other eminent medical men, he was regularly visited by Dr. Abercrombie. His mind, too, began to be easier. In July, he wrote to his father, “I have received £20 from Blackwood, which has relieved me from present anxiety.” But all was in vain, and his friends began to wish that he could try a change of climate. And this, also, to some extent, was tried. The late Sir John Sinclair met with the poem, and heard of the circumstances of its author. In conjunction with other gentlemen, whom he brought to his own feelings of sympathy, a fund was raised to defray his expenses to London, and thence, if possible, to Italy. The kind Baronet was not satisfied with what he did at Edinburgh: he exerted his London influence likewise, leaving no stone unturned, that, if possible, the life of so promising an author might be prolonged, or, if not, that in his latter days he might experience 110 lack of outward comforts. And as his success had made him the owner of valuable literary property, anxiety no longer aggravated disease. But the mischief was done, and could not be repaired. The effects remained when the cause was removed; so that when, August 15th, 1827, he left his father's house for London, accompanied by Mrs. Gilmour, his sister, the departure was final. He arrived in London on the 24th of August, and a passage in a vessel bound for Leghorn was quickly secured But the symptoms of his case became so unfavourable that all thought of going to Italy had to be speedily
declined, and on the 1st of September he reached his last restingplace on earth, Southampton. Becoming worse, he wished to see his beloved friend and brother, David, the partner of his studies, the confidant of his sorrows. September 11th, he wrote his last letter, addressed to his father :-“It is with difficulty that I can repeat what my sister has written above, that I wish David to come off immediately. Whatever my gracious and merciful God and Saviour has in design with me at this time, David's presence will be equally useful. Let nothing delay his immediate coming. Wherever he is, the Presbytery will at once set him at liberty in a case of this kind. My sister is often much distressed; but we pray for one another, and take comfort in the gracious promises of God. I hope I am prepared for the issue of this trouble, whether life or death. Pray for me.-R. Pollok.” He lingered on peacefully, trusting in his Saviour, and deriving all his external comfort from hearing his sister read the word of God. “ Read no book to me but the Bible.” His dying hours were in conformity to the solemn testimony born in his poem; and never, perhaps, was testimony more faithful, or more closely adapted to the circumstances of the age. Having given it, his work was done. He died at one in the morning of Tuesday, September 18th, 1827, and was buried on the 21st. Mr. (now Sir John) Pirie came down from London, and he and Mrs. Gilmour were “chief mourners” at the funeral. Mrs. Gilmour almost immediately returned to London on her way home. Mr. David Pollok did not receive the message sent to him till eight days after it had been written, but he instantly commenced his journey. He reached Southampton at five in the evening of September 23d, and hastened to Mr. Hyde's, where Robert had lodged. At once eager and fearful, he only asked if Mr. Pollock and his sister were there. Mrs. Hyde had opened the door herself, and at once supposing who it was, answered, in a tone that revealed the whole truth, “ They were here :" she then added, “Both are gone. He is no more ; and she has left for London.” Well might his most affectionate brother say, “What a void, dreary, desolateness did these words produce ! I felt as if alone in the world. With what unutterable feelings
did I see the room in which he had died, and visit his grave !" Had he lived a month longer, he would have completed his twenty-ninth year.
(Remarks on “ The Course of Time" in our next Number.)
BRIEF MISCELLANEOUS NOTICES BY SEA
AND LAND. SICKNESS, DEATH, AND FUNERAL AT SEA. But the delicious atmosphere, and the amusements of the ship, bring not joy to all on board. There are sick men swinging uneasily in their hammocks; and one poor fellow, whose fever threatens to terminate fatally, tosses painfully in his cot. His messmates gently bathe his hot brow, and, watching every movement, nurse him as tenderly as a woman. Strange that the rude heart of a sailor should be found to possess such tenderness as we seldom ask or find in those of our own sex on land ! There we leave the gentler humanities of life to woman : here, we are compelled to imitate her characteristics, as well as our own sterner nature will permit. The sick man died last night, and was buried to-day. His history was revealed to no one. Where was his home, or whether he has left friends to mourn his death, are alike unknown. Dying, he kept his own counsel, and was content to vanish out of life, even as a speck of foam melts back into the ocean. At eleven, A.M., for the first time in a cruise likely to be fatal to many on board, the boatswain piped "all hands to bury the dead !” The sailors' corpse, covered with the union of his country's flag, was placed in the gangway. Two hundred and fifty officers and men stood around, and reverently listened to the beautiful and solemn burial-service, as it was read by one of the officers. The body was committed to the deep, while the ship dashed onwards, and had left the grave far behind, even before the last words of the service were uttered. The boatswain “piped down,” and all returned to their duties sadly, and with thoughtful countenances.—Journal of an African Cruiser.
RURAL SCENE IN WESTERN AFRICA. One of the sweetest spots that I have seen in Africa, was a little
hamlet of three houses, standing apart from the four large towns above-mentioned, and surrounded by an impervious hedge of thorn-bushes, with two palisaded entrances. Forcing our way through one of these narrow portals, we beheld a grassy area of about fifty yards across ; overshadowed by a tree of very dense foliage, which had its massive roots in the centre, and spread its great protecting branches over the whole enclosure. The three dwellings were neatly built of wicker-work, having high conical roofs thatched with palmetto-leaves : they were particularly neat; giving a pleasing impression of the domestic life of the inhabitants.--Ibid.
THE LIBERATED AFRICAN RESTORED TO HIS FRIENDS. Ar Grand Berebee the King came off in a large canoe. On board the “ Macedonian,” there were five prisoners, who had been taken two months before by the brig “ Porpoise.” One was the eldest son of this very King, and the others belonged to his tribe. The meeting between the King and Prince was very affecting, and fully proved that nature has not left these wild people đestitute of warmth and tenderness of heart. They threw themselves into each others' arms, wept, laughed, and danced for joy. To the King, his son was like one risen from the dead : he had given him up for lost, supposing that he had been executed. The prisoners were each presented with a new frock and trousers, besides tobacco, handkerchiefs, and other suitable gifts. The Prince received a Lieutenant's old uniform coat; and when they got into their canoe, it was amusing to see how awkwardly he paddled in this outlandish trim. He made two or three attempts to get the coat off without success. One of his companions then offered his assistance; but as he took him by the collar instead of the sleeve, it was found impracticable to rid him of the garment. The more he pulled, the less it would come off. The last we saw of Prince Jumbo, he was holding up his skirts with one hand, and paddling with the other. There will be grand rejoicings to-night on account of the return of the prisoners. All will be dancing and jollity. The village will re-echo with the report of fire-arms, and the clamour of drums, and the whole population will hold a feast of bullocks.--Ibid.