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The Home Life of Sir David Brewster
Chapter XXI. The End


From earth retiring,
Heav’nward aspiring,
All my long day’s work below now done;
Calmly reclining,
All unrepining,
Jesus, let me lean on Thy love alone.

No more low-caring,
No more wayfaring,
These soiled sandals loosed and flung away,
Done with the soiling,
Done with the toiling,
All my burdens lay I down for aye.

Ended the jarring,
Past all the warring,
Quit I gladly life’s rude war-array;
Victory crying,
Enemies flying,
Thus my armour put I off for aye.

Earth is retreating,
Heav’n is me greeting,
Hope is lighting up new scenes above;
Tranquilly lying,
Peacefully dying,
Jesus beckons upward to His love.

Bonar.

And now we come to the last days of the long working life. My father’s own expression a little later was, that he “was an inch nearer the end every day since Dundee,” hut when we were with him in October the change was scarcely perceptible. He drove every day, and occupied himself in showing the near beauties of the neighbourhood to our little son and his tutor, and arranging their more distant excursions. When we left him it was not with more than the natural fear of what might happen during the winter. To those who knew his old fearfulness and timidity—which grace had not up to this time fully taken away—and who saw the great vitality and joy of work which still remained, it seemed impossible to look forward to the inevitably near approach of the King of Terrors without some uneasiness as to how he was to be encountered. But to those who thus feared, it might have been said, “Why are ye troubled? O ye of little faith!” The thoroughness of the change that had passed upon him was yet to be triumphantly shown, and all the fears entertained for him were to vanish away as the mists of the morning. We do not know much of what during the next few weeks was passing in his mind, but his prayers were still for the increase of faith and love, and both were marvellously answered. A copy of Les Adieux d’Adolphe Monod had been given him by the Bev. Edward Elliot, of Brighton, whom he had had great pleasure in meeting, two years before, at Parkhill. This book he studied incessantly, and it proved the same help to him as it has been to many, while hearing the ever nearer rippling of the waters of the great Eiver. It was after reading it that he said one day to his wife, “I feel my faith much increased.” He loved also to read and to listen to hymns,—simple but nourishing food for philosophers as well as children. Two of his favourites were “Eock of Ages,” and “There is life for a look at the Crucified One.” Knowing that the anxious temperament still often felt burdened and wearied by temporal cares, a well-known and simple hymn was sent to him, of which the following are the two first verses :—

“Oh, eyes that are weary,
Oh, hearts that are sore,
Look off unto Jesus,
And sorrow no more.
The light of His countenance
Shineth so bright,
That on earth as in heaven,
There need be no night.

Looking oft unto Jesus,
Mine eyes cannot see
The troubles and dangers:
That throng around me;
They cannot be blinded .
With sorrowful tears,
They cannot be shadowed
With unbelief fears,”—

and this he particularly valued and often asked for. That grace which had soothed much of the earlier temper and some of the nervous irritability, worked also in producing a greater consciousness of these faults. One day he expressed to his wife his sorrow for a hasty word, adding so touchingly, “I say these things, but I don’t mean them; they never come from my heart.”

The following letter gives so very graphic an account of my father in these last months and days, and it forms such a characteristic portrait of him as he was in his unreserved moments, that I gladly introduce it here:—

“Galashiels Manse, July 9, 1869.

“ ... On the 22d November 1867, Sir David presided at the first meeting of the Edinburgh University Court which I ever attended. I was struck by his extraordinary energy, and his zeal for the prerogatives of the Senatus, which he thought .some of us disposed to dispute. He turned to Dr. Alexander Wood, and subjected him to a series of searching questions as to what he would do in certain supposed cases which he held to be analogous to that about which the Court and Senatus differed; and I remember well his looking to the Lord Provost, and saying, ‘ When I have done with Dr. Wood, I have some questions to put to your Lordship also,’ which he accordingly did. Never was he more vigorous and acute; I may add, seldom was he more excited with commonplace business ; yet he not only retained perfect command of his temper, but was as courteous as possible to those of us who were against him, especially to myself, though I had opposed his views, in spite of the warm interest which he had shown in my election to the Court.

“We afterwards travelled from Edinburgh as far as Galashiels in the same carriage ; and there being no one except ourselves in the compartment, he continued conversing with the utmost vigour, chiefly of the Newton controversy. I recollect saying to him that I was amazed that he did not feel fatigued, as he had come in from Allerly in the forenoon. He replied that he was wonderfully well; but that his system was becoming weakened. A slight incident at the commencement of this journey was afterwards riveted in my memory. He suddenly observed that his purse was empty, and that he had nothing for the cabman, and asked me for the loan of a shilling, with which he settled his fare. I forgot all about this, and having been engrossed with parochial duty and with a business visit to London, did not see him during the following month. In the beginning of the succeeding January, I received the following (by post):—‘One shilling in postage stamps: payment of an old debt; interest still due.—D. B.’ I was astonished at his recollection of such a trifle.

“Soon after this I called on him at Allerly, and found him in a very weak state of body, but with his mental activity unabated. We had a long conversation, extending, I think, to nearly two hours. The topics he discussed were the vacancy which had occurred in the Moral Philosophy Chair (as to which he seemed determined to keep himself wholly unfettered, in the hope of getting a Professor who would maintain the honour of the University); the Newton affair (in illustration of which he showed me a number of curious documents); but chiefly the article in the lately published Quarterly Review, which represented Sir Walter Scott as spat upon by the Jedburgh people at the time of the Reform excitement. He protested that this was not true, though affirmed in Lockhart’s Life, and urged me to send a contradiction to the Quarterly. I replied that I was quite ready to comply with his wishes, if I found it possible, but that I could not do so without further information.

“My last interview with Sir David was on the 6th February 1868. Next day had been fixed for a meeting of the University Court; and being well aware that he could not attend, I thought it courteous to call on him, and to ask if he wished me to communicate anything to his colleagues. I was greatly struck by the unfavourable change which had taken place in his appearance within a few days. His strength was utterly gone, and he had a death-like countenance. Nevertheless, he was calm, clear in his intellect, and even cheerful. He told me that he knew his time on earth was just about to end. I said that I feared he was right in his idea of his own condition, but that God had been very gracious to him, in preserving his life, and his faculties also, far beyond what was usual, and that if he was now to be removed it must be because he had accomplished what God had appointed as his earthly work. ... He cordially assented to my remarks, and declared that he was fervently thankful to God for the blessings he had received during so many years. Life here, he said, was not to be wished if the mind did not retain its vigour, and he looked for another and better life after death.

“Passing from this strain of conversation, he entered with the utmost clearness and obvious interest upon the business to be brought before the Court next day. He instructed me in the order of procedure fixed by the Act of Parliament, and specially charged me to see that the chair was taken, in the absence of the Rector and Principal, not by the Lord Provost, but, in terms of the Statute, by Dr. Alexander Wood, the Chancellor’s Assessor. He then begged that I would ascertain the general feeling about the Moral Philosophy Chair, for which, he assured me, he continued unpledged, and which he was very anxious might not be jobbed. ‘So strongly do I feel on this point,’ said he, 'that I think I must resign, now that I cannot attend the meetings of Curators, that you in the Court may elect another representative in my place.’ He begged me to discover whether his resignation was thought expedient, and to have no scruple about telling him the truth. I pledged myself to do as he desired, but added that I was certain we would all deprecate his giving up his Curatorship, and that there was no need for hurry, since the election would not be for several months.

“While we were speaking on this subject, he startled me with the abrupt inquiry, ‘Have you ever heard any one spoken of as my successor in the Principalship V I said, ‘0 no, Sir David ; I am glad there is too much good feeling for that.’ ‘Don’t tell me so,’ was his answer; ‘ every one knows that I am a Very old man, and you and I know that my end is very near; depend upon it people are speculating upon my death, just as they do upon that of an old minister, when they examine the almanac for the patron’s name. I ’11 tell you whom I have been thinking of—Professor Christison ; he is thoroughly acquainted with the College business, and would be an excellent Principal. I said so to himself some years ago; you will see him at the meeting of the Court to-morrow; just say to him what I have now said to you, and inform him that, if he wishes it, I will give him a certificate before I die.’ He then enlarged on the importance of having as Principal a man wholly, untainted by scepticism, deplored the prevalence of that evil among the scientific men of London, and said it would be impossible to over-estimate the mischief which the appointment to the Edinburgh Principalship of a sceptic might work. I said that certain exhibitions at the Dundee meeting of the British Association were peculiarly offensive, and that I was much pleased with the rebuke administered to them by the Duke of Buccleuch. Sir David replied that he had been delighted with the whole of the Duke’s conduct at Dundee, and particularly with the part of it which I had specified. He then repeated the expression of his deep regret that so many scientific men were setting themselves in opposition to the doctrines of Scripture, and expressed his own thankfulness that he had none of their doubts about the truth of Christianity as revealed in the Bible, but had simple faith in the Saviour whom God had provided, and looked to Christ alone for pardon and everlasting life. He said that nothing but this faith could now support him. I occasionally threw in a remark, to prolong this deeply interesting conversation, and had the privilege of listening to the warmest expressions of Christian faith and hope from the aged philosopher.

“Our conversation having reverted to University affairs, I happened to mention Professor Crawford—‘Oh !’ he said, ‘I know you and he are great friends; if you see him in Edinburgh to-morrow, I wish you would give him my kindest regards, and say how grateful I feel for his treatment of me. When I came to Edinburgh, I know there was a jealousy of me in the Theological Faculty, because I belonged to the Free Church; but I always met with the greatest kindness from them, from Dr. Crawford—yes, and from Dr. Lee also.’ I answered, ‘Sir David, as you have introduced this subject, I may tell you that not from Dr. Crawford only, but from many of the Professors in all the faculties, I have often heard that their relations with you were so cordial, that they despaired of ever having another such Principal, and that they could wish you immortal as their head.’ His eyes filled with tears, and he muttered, ‘I am very glad to hear all this ; they and I have been very happy together, and I was most thankful to find myself Principal of Edinburgh, my own University; it was the highest office I could have aspired to, and I am now, I believe, the oldest alumnus.’ ‘Not quite, Sir David,’ I answered; ‘remember Lord Brougham.’ ‘Ah, yes,’ he said, ‘he was before me, but he never took his degree, as I did, in the year—As he spoke he rose, and seemed to be moving towards a book in a shelf at the other end of the room. I interfered, begged that he would remain where he was, and offered to bring him the book. I did so, and he opened it, and stated the year of his graduation in Arts. Taking the book from him, I requested to be allowed to look into it, having some suspicion of the nature of its contents. He said, ‘You will think me vain if I consent, but I cannot refuse you.’ Upon examination, I found the book to consist of a collection of diplomas and other similar marks of honour which he had received. I thanked him so heartily for permitting me to see this extraordinary volume, that he said, ‘Now, if you are really pleased with what I have showed you, perhaps you would like to see my medals ; but you will think me very vain in my old age.’ I replied, ‘The sight of them will be a very great favour, let me assure you.’ He then rung a bell, and, on Lady Brewster answering the summons, begged her to bring his medals. She kindly complied with this request, and I had the privilege of going over, with their possessor, these tributes to his genius. We spoke of them as evidences that he had been considered useful in his generation, for which all praise was due to God. We constantly returned to the grand theme on which he was inclined to converse—that he was a dying man, and that nothing could now be of the slightest avail to him except the blood of Jesus.

“Such was my last interview with your father. It was longer than I would have ventured upon if I had not found him desirous that I should remain. I can never cease to reflect with gratitude upon the exalted privilege vouchsafed to me of witnessing what was so very nearly the close of a noble earthly career.—I have the honour to be with sincere respect, dear Madam, yours faithfully,

“K. M. Phin.

“Mrs. Gordon.”

Professor Balfour sends me an interesting letter written about this time, with the following explanation :—“The note refers to a communication which I had made relative to some passages in Sir David’s address to the Royal Society of 1867, which I thought might be misinterpreted, so as to bring out the idea that a certain preparation of the heart for the reception of Divine truth might be effected by the cultivation of science. I think he allowed me to make a slight alteration :—

“Allerly, December 4, 1867.

“Dear Professor Balfour,—Many thanks for your observations on the address. In both cases my meaning is such as you would desire it to be, but I cannot bring out that meaning better than by the words I use. By the word wise I mean a person who simply knows that God’s glory is shown in the heavens. A perfectly ignorant man, however good a Christian, cannot know this.

“By the words higher revelation I of course mean the great truths revealed in the Bible ; and I assert that a young man, with scientific instruction, will be prepared by it for the reception of revealed truth, and will be better able to encounter the objections drawn from science, than if he had not been instructed in science. Perhaps my meaning will be brought out better by substituting for the words, “that higher revelation,” the words, “those revealed truths.”—I am, ever most truly yours, D. Brewster.’"

He still continued able to work and to move about, and was not under medical attendance—for bis own doctor being absent, be refused till even nearer the end to see any one, and then only consented to have a medical man from a country town at some distance. But the consciousness of the last weakness being close at Hand increased upon him, and the week before he was finally laid up was spent in a literal setting of his house in order, which was most characteristic of his whole past life. Lady Brewster tells me that each day of that long week was spent as if in the most active preparation for a journey. Letters were written—or dictated to his faithful companion, and signed by himself; papers arranged ; books put by, and after each piece of business he would say, “There, that’s done then something else was begun and finished—not a moment wasted—no pause required—not a word of what was at hand, lest either worker should break down—a strange week of patient, unwearied, accomplished work!

One of these letters was to an old and attached friend, of whose unwearied kindness and affectionate attentions he ever expressed the most grateful recognition. It was as follows :—

“Allerly, Feb. 2, 1868.

“My dear Lady Coxe,—I have for several days been proposing to write to you, but having nothing agreeable to myself to say, and nothing agreeable to you to hear, I have been silent.

“I am hardly able to walk from my library to my bedroom, and want of breath, sleep, and appetite make me a genuine invalid, quite unable to do the duties in the University were I in Edinburgh. I regret this bitterly, as there is so much valuable work now being done in promoting the prosperity of the University. My complaint has been advancing so rapidly as to indicate a no very distant termination, and after such a long and happy life as I have enjoyed, I do not repine that a higher will than mine should be done. But still, though faith be strong, and the prospects of the future bright, it is difficult without emotion to part with those kind and valued friends who have performed with us the journey of life, and shared with us its joys and its sorrows.

“I need not say, my dear Lady Coxe, how much of my happiness has arisen from your kind and affectionate attention, and how sincerely I wish that your life may be as long and as full of blessings as mine has been.—With our united kind regards to Sir James and Dr. Cumming, I am, my dear Lady Coxe, ever most truly yours,

“D. Brewster.

One little piece of business was the arranging that a copy of each of his works should be set apart for an “authors’ table” at a bazaar, the proceeds of which were to help in establishing a Medical Mission in Aberdeen. On Friday his loving, careful wife implored him to remain in bed ; but no!—“Let me rise once more,”, he said; “I have still a little work to do.” On that day he dictated a farewell letter to Professor Balfour, and to the members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It was as follows :—

"Allerly, Febry. 1th.

"My dear Professor Balfour,—I have tried in vain to finish the most important of my papers on Liquid Films, but the most beautiful drawings of all the phenomena, which its purpose was to describe, have been finished. I think therefore that my friend Mr. Deas will, by means of these drawings, produce an interesting paper. The drawings are numerous, but many of them may be reduced by cutting off the long tails of the glass vessels or otherwise. ... I beg you will offer to the Council my best thanks, and accept of them to yourself, for all the kindness that I have received from you since I became President of the Society.

“I had expected to do the work of this session, but my indisposition advanced so rapidly that I found myself unfit for the smallest exertion, mental or physical. At my great age, and with a strong faith, the change is not unwelcome.—I am, ever most truly yours,

‘“D. Brewster.”

In the course of that afternoon he saw the Rev. Mr. Cousin, his own pastor, who has recorded the visit as follows :—

“The last day he was able to be in his study—three days before he died—it was my privilege to see and converse with him. He knew that he was dying. 4 My race is run/ he said ; and there was something almost of the old scientific habit of thought in what he added, —'From the palpable failure of strength from one day to another, I feel as if I could count the very day when all must close.’ Usually he was very reserved in speaking of himself, but on this occasion his mouth was opened and his heart enlarged. He spoke with deep feeling and tenderness of the happiness he had enjoyed in life.

4 Never man/ he said, 'had more cause for thankfulness than I, but with all that/ he added, 'now that I can be of no use to myself or any one else, I have no wish to linger here.’ He expressed the most perfect acquiescence in the Divine will, and the most perfect peace in reliance upon Jesus in the prospect of standing very soon in the Divine presence; 'and yet/ he added, with something like a falter in his voice, 'it is not without a wrench that one parts with all he has most loved on earth.’”

That night the work was all over, but the usual evening occupations still remained, which I cannot forbear describing as it was given to me by the third of the little group :— ...

"On Friday the 7th February, dearest papa’s last night in his library, Connie read to him as usual, after his dinner, before going to bed, the 27th Psalm and 6th Hebrews, singing a hymn to him, as she always did, 'There is a happy land.’ Previous to the reading they had two games of dominoes together. This allowance of reading, singing, and games never varied, but seeing him look tired, and knowing how poorly he was feeling, I first advised only one game, and then only one chapter, hut his reply each time was, ‘No, we must do all just as usual; it may he the last time.’”

The fond quiet kiss and good-night over, nothing else remained, and as he left his study he said quietly,—“Now you may turn the key, for I shall never he in that room again.” When he undressed, he said, “Take away my clothes, this is the last time I shall wear them;” and when he lay down—“I shall never again rise from this hed.” On Saturday, the medical attendant still thought he might rally, so wonderful was his constitution, hut the dying man knew better. He was ahle, however, to see the Rev. James Herdman, D.D., of the Established Church, Melrose, who had been one of his students in the old St. Andrews days, and with whom, as well as with his predecessor, the Rev. William Murray, he was on the most friendly terms. To Dr. Herdman we owe the following interesting notes:—

“Melrose, 28th July 1869.

“My dear Mrs. Gordon,—The last time I saw your father was on the Saturday evening, less than forty-eight hours before he died. I had gone over to Allerly merely to inquire after him, and was leaving the grounds when a message came that Sir David would like to see me.

“I found him in hed, very helpless, hut with eye undimmed, and his face expressive of perfect peace. He spoke without difficulty, though with a little huskiness of voice. He said he was glad to see me once again, and he wished me to pray with him.

“I made a remark about his hope, when he said with emphasis that ‘it was on the Rock—Christ alone.’

“Had he no doubts? no fear.‘ None. The blood of the cross had washed away his sins; he had life in Christ; this he was sure of, for God had said it.’

“Had it always been thus with him?‘ For long; years ago he had been enabled to trust in the Crucified One, and his confidence had never been shaken.’

“Had he no difficulty in believing all the Bible? in these days scepticism was common among scientific men. ‘Common! alas, few received the truth of Jesus. But why? It was the pride of intellect —straining to be wise above what is written; it forgets its own limits, and steps out of its province. How little the wisest of mortals knew—of anything! how preposterous for worms to think of fathoming the counsels of the Almighty!’

“Sir Isaac Newton was quoted,—‘I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then with a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me!’ ‘Yes! yes, indeed! Yet how sad that Newton should have gone so far wrong! He was far from sound in his views of our Lord’s person—in fact, they were of the Arian type. . . . The divinity of our Saviour is fundamental.’

“The wish of many to relax our creeds was referred to.‘ He had no such wish; it was just an index of the restlessness of the age, and want of submission to what is revealed. He was thoroughly satisfied with our Confession of Faith.’

“Did the Christian mysteries give him no trouble?‘ None. Why should they? We are surrounded by mysteries. His own being was a mystery—he could not explain the relation of his soul to his body. Everybody believed things they could not understand. The Trinity or the Atonement was a great deep : so was Eternity, so was Providence. It caused him no uneasiness that he could not fully account for them. There were secret things that belonged to God. He made no attempt to reconcile the sovereignty of grace with the responsibility of man ; they were both true—he could wait to see their harmony cleared ; they were not contrary to reason, however incomprehensible. When he found a doctrine plainly stated in the Bible, that was enough; God knew ; he could depend on His word: we should not expect in this world to be free from • obscurities and apparent discrepancies, and things beyond our grasp. He thanked God the way of salvation was so simple; no laboured argument, no hard attainment was required. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ was to live ; he trusted in Him, and enjoyed His peace.’

“Such is the substance of that most delightful conversation, in which was repeated grateful mention of the Lord our Righteousness. I wrote a memorandum of it at the time. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a more child-like and happy faith. ‘ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my lagt end be like his.’—Yours very sincerely,

“James C. Herdman.

On Saturday morning those of his family who were within call were telegraphed for, and Colonel and Mrs. Brewster Macpherson arrived in the evening. Owing to the telegram being just too late for us to take the first train from Clifton, and the scarcity of trains on Sunday, my husband and I did not arrive till Sunday evening, some hours later than we were expected. It was touching to find the craving of his heart for us, which he had been expressing through the day, fearing that we should be too late. “Oh, how I have wearied for you! ” were his simple words, and then he seemed perfectly satisfied. His kind and much appreciated friend, Sir James Simpson, arrived with us ; he found him pulseless, but the excitement of the arrivals seemed to give him new energy, and a perceptible pulse returned. It was, indeed, something remarkable, and never to be forgotten, to hear the conversation between those two eminent men. Something was said of a hope that he might yet rally. “Why, Sir James, should you hope that?” he said, with much animation. “The machine has worked for above eighty years, and it is worn out. Life has been very bright to me, and now there is the brightness beyond !” Sir James Simpson then asked if he wished any one in particular to take charge of his scientific papers ; he answered, “No; I have done what every scientific man should do, viz., published almost all my observations of any value, just as they have occurred.” And then came a fluent stream of well-chosen words from the dying philosopher, describing a scientific phenomenon connected with one of his favourite researches, which made one breathless with astonishment to listen to. Not a mistake, not a confused word was there, except once, when Sir James gently substituted the word “ white ” for “ black.” Although already before the public,1 the following account is so much better than mine could be that I quote it:—

“He then explained that he had left one paper on Film forms for the Society, and went on to express an earnest regret that he had not had time to write for the Society another, descriptive of the optical phenomena which he had latterly observed in his own field of vision, where there was a partial degree of increasing amaurosis, which, he thought, might be yet found a common form of failure in the eyes of men, ageing and aged like himself. He described the appearance of this partial amaurosis minutely and energetically, telling me, for your information, that the print of the Times newspaper had begun for a year or two past to look at one part in his field of vision as if the white interstices between the letters ‘ were lightly peppered over with minute dark powder ; ’ and this amaurotic point was, he observed, latterly extending like the faint extending circle around a recent ink spot on blotting-paper.”

Hearing all this, and watching the play of the expressive countenance, it was almost impossible to believe that death was or could be at hand; and that night more than one heart hoped against hope. The disappointment, though felt to be unreasonable, was proportionally great when, the next morning, before leaving Allerly, Sir James Simpson pronounced that my father could not live over the day. Monday the 10th of February was a day of suffering from weakness, breathlessness, and that constant desire of change of position, the varied discomforts of which so often form the principal suffering of a deathbed. Pain there was little of, except occasional spasms through the chest, significant, I suppose, of the heart disease, which, although not that of which he died, was complicated with the pneumonia and bronchitis which proved the actual messengers of death ; once faintly complaining of one of these shoots of paiu, we did not catch his words, and it was with the energy of old that he raised his head with a glance of amusement, spelling distinctly, “p-a-i-n.” Upon another occasion a play upon the word he used, and a bright cheerful smile, reminded us of the old social jest and laughter. All fear had passed for ever. Throughout the day he longed for the moment of dismissal. “When will it come”—“Oh, how long it is of coming!” he said several times ; and once he said, “What hard work it is to ‘put off this mortal coil!’ ”For a few hours he was very languid, but listened with intentness to every passage of Scripture repeated to him, and if he did not catch every word he asked for it again. Once during this time, while partially dozing, his mind seemed to waver for a moment, and he spoke as if “Jane Maitland”—an intimate friend—was in the room, but that was the only brief passing cloud. He sent an affectionate message to the only absent member of his immediate family, who was far away in Burmah. His little daughter was brought in to see him for the last time, and repeated to him the hymn beginning with,

“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee;
O Lamb of God, I come.”

He was very thoughtful of his loving watchers, fearing over-fatigue for them, and saying once, with such touching sweetness, referring to this fear, and the trouble he thought he gave, “Oh, how sorry I am for you all!” and when assured that it was the greatest happiness to be near him, his uneasiness ceased, and there was but the tender pressure of the hand,—the long earnest gaze,—the meekness with which, to please those who loved him, he continued the difficult task of taking nourishment. He was always peculiarly reverential and guarded in his way of speaking of Deity, habitually using the words “God,” “the Lord Jesus Christ,” “our Saviour; ”but on his deathbed, the sense of the nearness, and the love of the Lord Jesus, at once his God, his Saviour, and his Righteousness, overcame the habits of reserve of a lifetime, and he only spoke of “Jesus” as a personal, living, waiting Friend. Once, when a sense of difficulty seemed to cross his spirit, he said, “Jesus will take me safe through,” with restored confidence. Another time, the seldom-spoken words came to my lips, and I said, “You will see Charlie/” but gathering himself up after a pause, he answered, as if in gentle rebuke, “I shall see Jesus, who created all things; Jesus, who made the worlds; I shall see Him as He is;” and he repeated, with that pathetic return to his native Scotch, which was not uncommon with him when greatly interested, “I shall see Jesus, and that will be ‘grand/” with an ineffably happy, cheerful look. “You will understand everything then,” it was said. “O yes,” was the answer, which seemed to come from a very fulness of content. “I wish all learned men had your simple faith,” it was said at another time; and again there was the pause and the gathering up, and the words dropped out, each with its own weight of feeling and of meaning, “Yes; I have had the Light for many years, and oh! how bright it is! I feel so safe, so satisfied.”

There came a few moments when his pulse was more perceptible, there seemed a shade less of exhaustion, and it almost seemed as if he might partially rally ; but even as this whisper passed between two of the watchers the sudden change came—the fixed gaze—the rigidity of the once mobile face—the glaze over the soft blue eyes ; the silver cord was loosed, the golden bowl was broken, and the spirit lied back rejoicing to Him who gave, instructed, and redeemed it. His daughter-in-law, who had never seen a soul pass away before, wrote afterwards, “I thank God I have been present when his passed away. The sight was a cordial from Heaven to me. I believed before, but now I have seen, that Christ has truly abolished death,” —while the two that returned to a distant dwelling-place, where the daily blank and the vacant chair could not be seen, felt for long as if there had been no death, and sorrow were impossible, so much did it seem as if they had returned from the golden gates of “the City which hath foundations.”

My father’s abhorrence of all funeral display was so well known to his family, that, in accordance with his often expressed opinions, they intended to confine it entirely to his nearest relatives, even valued friends and connections not being invited. They did not, however, think it right to refuse the desire of the members of the University and Royal Society of Edinburgh to be present; while many friends and neighbours, and large numbers of the inhabitants of Melrose and Gattonside, and some neighbouring villages, joined the procession unasked. The shops were closed, the bells of the churches of all denominations were pealed—groups of cottagers watched the procession, some in tears, others clad in mourning, and the sympathy of the people was most marked and soothing.

It was in a strange variety of the elements that he was borne to his rest from his long-loved cottage home:—between the hedgerows, —among ‘the orchards,—past the favourite bend of the river above Gattonside, which he had never before passed with eyes dulled to its beauty,—across the bridge of Tweed,—past the Abbotsford road,— away under the shadow of the Eildons,—into the old Cathedral burying-ground, where lay two beloved ones—on he went—while tempest, calm, snow, and sunshine, alternated through the day. There he sleeps till the resurrection morn, and upon the stone which marks the spot where he lies, near to a sculptured window of the old Abbey, are the simple and suitable words—

“THE LORD IS MY LIGHT.”—Psalmxxvn.

Dr. Guthrie—my father’s friend for many years—preached a funeral sermon in the Free church of Melrose, from which I make a few extracts :—

“I thank God, with all my heart, for His departed servant, that now, when the battle is over, he fought the good fight so well, and in days of doubt, and of darkness, and of declension, kept the faith— not only kept, but clung to it. He was one who was not ashamed in the highest assemblies of the land to stand up as a Christian, and avow himself a believer. . . .

“He knew the difference, which some seem not to see, between the sphere of revealed religion and that of arts and sciences. Theirs is the region for discoveries, and new truths and novelties—for something the world never saw, or thought of, or dreamed of before—for the progress that lies between the first log-hut which screened its tenants from the storm, and the proud palace of kings; that lies between the path man cut in the primeval forest, and the iron road along which he skims with fire and water yoked to his chariot-wheels; that lies between those beacon-fires that blazed far and near on your border hills, carrying the news of invasion across the land, and the wires by which I flash a message from the Old World to the New, through the bowels of the mountains and depths of the sea. No doubt the progress of science, and a better acquaintance with the language and lands of the Bible, may and will throw light on some of its obscurer passages; but men forget what Sir David Brewster knew, and what, I rejoice to say, he bore his testimony to. The arts and sciences have new discoveries to boast of, and they will have more discoveries to boast of, but the Church has none. It is an old Bible; it is an old faith ; it is an old system; it is as old as the Fall, and it will last till the end of all things. The martyrs of science, Galileo, and such as he, suffered for new truths—the martyrs of the Church for old ones. ... Sir David Brewster clung to the old faith ; he walked in the old paths. A great man beside whom your so-called philosophers, who are assailing our old faith, are pigmies—mere pigmies; a man whose brows not his own country only, but other lands, delighted^to crown with their highest honours; this man of worldwide reputation—this, in some respects, the greatest of modern philosophers, observe—and let the world observe it—was a humble Christian. He was a devout believer; no mere speculator in theology, but a sincere believer in the Word of God, who came down from the very pinnacles of science to open his Bible, and bending that venerable head over the sacred page, he read it with all the faith of

‘Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content, though mean, and cheerful, if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the livelong day.
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,—
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew ;
And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.’

Yes! Sir David read his Bible, and when he lay a-dying, he said, ‘I have been reading and studying the Bible all my days, but I shall soon know more than I ever did.’ Knowing in whom he believed, he had no doubt of that. Blessed man! Blessed faith! Blessed peace!”

By Sir David Brewster’s own wish, his books, pictures, instruments, and papers, have been taken to Belleville. Many portraits of him remain to us—some most excellent in point of execution, and a few good in likeness, though not one represents the living, breathing, working Man. His extreme mobility of countenance and variety of expression rendered it a task of peculiar difficulty to represent him as he lives in memory. The best pictures are two by his friend Mr. Salter Herrick,—one bought by the University of St. Andrews, the other at Parkhill; two by Mr. Norman Macbeth,—one painted for the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the other at Belleville; one by Sir John Watson Gordon, which his brother Mr. Watson presented to the nation, and which is in the South Kensington Collection; and two at Allerly, by Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Wighton. He was frequently made a study for photography, where the difficulty of expression was equally formidable. The photograph taken by Mr. Musgrave, which forms the frontispiece to the first edition of this volume, was his own favourite. A photograph by Dr. Adamson of St. Andrews, with whom he frequently worked in photography, is an admirable representation, while there are excellent ones by Mr. Rodger of St. Andrews, and a very good one, afterwards painted by his friend the late M. Claudet. Mr. Brodie is preparing a statue of him, which is to stand in the quadrangle of the University of Edinburgh. Mrs. D. 0. Hill executed some years ago a good marble bust, and there is a' much-valued one, also in marble, at Parkhill, given to us by him, taken many years ago, I believe, by a Fife sculptor. All these “ pleasant pictures,” however, with their defects and beauties, must pass away and be forgotten in the day of dissolved elements and fervent heat; but the “likeness of God,” which is now “stamped on his brow,” where he sees “Jesus as He is,” shall last for ever and ever.

The night he first rested in his new quiet home, the stars shone brightly out in their beauty after the stormy day; and the whisper came from the one who knew best his unwearied habits of work, “Oh, how busy he must be!” I give in conclusion the following lines, which were tenderly and solemnly penned with a loving remembrance of all the old habits of careful composition and correction so long practised and inculcated.

Under the storm!
Under the storm!
Lift ye gently the aged form!
Bear him tenderly down the stair—
Carry him out to the wintry air !
Let him into the shelter go,
Of the plumy pomp of the conquered foe !

Under the calm!
Under the calm!
Bear him along with a victor’s palm!
Borrow a glow from the purpled dell,
And a gleam from the river he loved so well,—
Let the bells ring out a birthday chime
For the soul new-born from the throes of time!

Under the snow!
Under the snow!
Into the damps and the dews below!
Lay him down with his long-loved dead,
Weep ! if ye will, o’er his silver head.
We have not an honour to reach him now—
We have not a love that can touch his brow.

Under the sun!
Under the sun!
Joy! for the saved one whose race is run!
Joy! for the gift of the doubtless trust,
That shall parry many a doubter’s thrust.
Joy! for the saint with his fair white stole,
Of Christ’s finished work in the glorious goal!

Under the skies!
Under the skies!
Where the hosts of heaven in glory rise;
They shine on the couch where the sage is laid,
To his first night’s sleep in the cloister’d shade.
Doth he walk “ astonied” their lands of light?
Hath he found a hest for his spirit’s might?
Hath he lifted a beacon in space unknown?
Hath he solved the hues of the prism’d throne?
Hath he met with his peers of the elder days?
Hath he learned from the seraphs new meed for praise?
We see not ! we see not ! but this we know,
He hath bowed his head with its honours low!
“Not mine! not mine!” is the whisper meet,
As he casts his crown at his Saviour’s feet.


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