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mingled with all our thoughts. I often find myself, when alone, literally crying out for him, and moved to stretch out my arms as if I could embrace him.” True, he turned, as before, to the same wellspring of consolation. Whenever he was struck by affliction, or when letters brought vexation and disappointment, the open Bible lay by the letter, and both were spread before his Lord. He himself, in comforting a dear friend labouring under religious despondency, describes a case (evidently his own), and shows us that he himself had travelled to peace through some dark chambers of thought. Then, he said, he must have sunk, but for the comfort and strength which he found in the Word of God. Especially did he then turn to the book of Psalms; and there, observing the constant efforts of the Psalmist to realize God's immediate presence, he learned to trace, as it were, in his daily life, the workings of God's hand, he tried the same with prayer, and found it effectual. Therefore he could comfort others; and his letters to his dying sister-in-law and to his aged father, pleading the freeness of God's invitations, His readiness to welcome, the sureness of His promises, the effectualness of prayer, "keeping nothing back from God, but anxiously setting before Him all your sins and all your needs, and beseeching Him, for the sake of your ever-blessed Redeemer, freely to pardon the former, and fully to supply the latter," this pouring forth of the heart, the sweetness of this daily communion, he could say from his experience, was pleasant for the living, and safe for the dying. So, when he himself came to die, he had little to do but to repeat what he had so often taught, that there was no ground of hope but in the riches of Christ.
His end came sooner than his friends desired; not to be wondered at indeed, when we consider the earnestness of his feelings and the intensity of his uninterrupted labours.
Dr. Robertson had spent the last autumn of his life near Melrose; there, in a cottage in the midst of the pastoral scenery, he had enjoyed the society of his friends, and had wandered amongst the hills, conversing with the shepherds and farmers, finding inexhaustible subjects of interest in their pursuits, and in the scientific reading which to him was a relaxation. Recruited by this rest, the autumn saw him revisiting his father's farm, and holding crowded meetings for endowment in Inverness-shire, and, under the able presidency of the Duke of Argyle, at Inverary. When he returned to Edinburgh, he prevailed on the Church of Scotland to give him a collection for the Endowment on the three-hundredth anniversary of the first meeting of the Presbyterian Assembly, on the 20th December, 1860. But the gift was fatal to himself. His lectures had now begun, and the amount of correspondence which fell upon him in order to stimulate his Church, overtasked his strength. His countenance became altered; the symptoms of exhaustion which returned every evening were such as to alarm his friends. On the 22nd of November the final blow came; and though, by strength of resolution, he forced himself to attend his class and to take part in the Endowment committee, he sunk under the prostration of a severe bilious attack. At first this appeared to yield to the practised skill of Professor Miller; but soon after typhoid fever came on, and after a few days of struggle and suffering, he resigned himself to death. When the event was announced to him gently by his physician, the answer was prompt: “So be it; I would have gladly remained a little longer and worked God's work here, not as I would, but as I could, had such been His blessed will; but if He sees it best to take me now, I am ready. I am a poor sinful creature, but all my hope of salvation is in the righteousness that is of God in Christ. I place no confidence whatever in anything I may have done; my alone rest for acceptance is on the righteousness of God by faith." had spoken to his physician, who was a member of the Free Church, of his own faith, he said, “ As to Free Church and Established Church, I care not; give me the man that has such faith, him I respect and love. We shall be together united to God in Christ for ever.” Such a life needs no comment. It does honour to the country and the Church to which he belonged; and we should be wanting in that Catholic charity which was the bright feature of this useful character, if we did not seize the occasion to pay to such a life the tribute of our respectful esteem.
He had expressed these feelings more fully a short time before, in writing to his sister-in-law on her deathbed. He had said to her that there was only one question that had to be answered “in order to place us on a rock of comfort from which nothing could dislodge us,” the question whether we were united to Christ. He had encouraged her by saying that she had come to Him, casting herself without reserve upon His mercy and grace; none ever so came to Him and were cast out; none ever continued to cling to Him as their sole hope, and were yet made ashamed of that hope. “Strive, then," he had added, " to keep fast hold of your Redeemer's precious word of promise ; and, if Satan at any time attempt to suggest doubt to you, only cling to it all the more closely, and pray all the more fervently for that perfect love which casteth out all fear."
The comfort, which he had thus ministered to others, was, in his last struggle, graciously supplied to himself. In the afternoon of his last day upon earth, his wife asked him if he was
Clear and strong was his answer. “I am nothing but a poor sinner, but I am a sinner longing for Jesus, and I have peace and good hope.” At length, as the strong body gave way, the firm mind began to wander, and went back to those thoughts which had so long engrossed it. He pleaded in the name of Christ, that to the poor and outcast of Scotland the Gospel might be preached ; spoke of the work and its benefactors; and, filled with the thought which had so long inspired him, he cried aloud, "It is not the Convener, it is not the Committee, that can do this, but the spirit of the living God.” If this was the wandering of the failing mind, one of its last clear thoughts was no less characteristic. When he
SCHOOL AND HOME: A TALE FOR SCHOOL-BOYS. School and Home ; or, Leaves from a Boy's Journal. A Tale for
School Boys. By the Author of “ England's Day-Break," “Plain Reading for Plough-Boys," 8c. London : Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday. London. 1863.
This book may be regarded as on the whole favourable to public schools. The scene of the tale is laid in a public school; the characters appear to be justly delineated, and are well sustained throughout, and the boys get into many serious scrapes; yet there is not a word of protest, or warning, nothing certainly to deter a parent from sending his son to a public school, except on grounds which might equally apply to any kind of school. But there is much to make him watchfui, careful, and possibly anxious, until his son's character, having been tried and tested, has been found settled and firm in principles. There are, at the same time, occasional shots at other systems, put indeed into the mouth of the friends of public schools; but these are not accepted as giving occasion to raise up any one to resent them; though, in a tale not founded on fact, it would have been easy to have manufactured a rival advocate. "A tale for school boys," if it contain anything like a fair representation of their life, may afford many valuable suggestions to those whose sons are approaching the important age at which the business of education must begin in all seriousness,
Those parents may be accounted happy who have settled to their satisfaction the perplexing question, what methods of education they shall adopt for their sons. Happier they who, after some experience, may still believe that their decision was not a mistake. There are, indeed, many who escape this difficulty of choice. There may be a good school in the place where they reside ; or they may have an old friend who takes private pupils, or keeps a school, and in whom they can confide; or it may be the custom of their family to send all their boys to
some certain school, and they would not for an instant entertain the thought of departing from that practice. In such cases it is obvious that no perplexity is experienced. But the more common situation of parents is that of feeling no special attraction in any direction, and of having only to think what treatment of their children, within the compass of their means, promises to be the best for them, and to select a school accordingly. The whole land is open to them, and therefore they may be sorely puzzled. They have to settle a most important question, with inadequate means of knowing how to deal with it.
Let us suppose such a parent, anxious only to place his son under the circumstances which may prove most advantageous for his preparation for the eventual duties of his life. He has tried to nurture the boy in Christian principles; it cannot be without some trepidation that he contemplates his removal, for months together, from the home in which they have been cherished, to a scene in which, for the first time, other influences, probably antagonistic, will be brought to bear upon him with considerable force. Viewing the matter theoretically, he may judge it to be a most unnatural proceeding to subject a child of eight or nine years of age to such a trial. The circle within which his affections may range will be suddenly enlarged. What if the old home be less entirely loved ? What if the mother feel that she will never again possess her child's whole heart, as she has possessed it heretofore, and anticipate the occurrence of moments of danger, when, if she were but at hand, he might at once pour all his thoughts with confidence into her bosom, and obtain her help to decide rightly, and to act accordingly? She pictures temptation coming with all its force upon an untried though hopeful character, and pressing inost hardly upon its weakest features. She thinks of the force of example, and of the strength of public opinion and feeling, and fears that these may too often work in a wrong direction. Is it right, she reflects, thus to expose a child to many perils (some real, some imaginary, or rather possible than probable) at the tenderest age? Thus home education claims consideration. Will it not be best to seek the services of an accomplished tutor, and to shelter the boy under the parental roof, until he shall reach the borders of mature age, and be ready either for the university, or for any other last stage of preparation for the work of life? The warnings of common experience appear generally (of course, far from universally) to declare that such is not the most successful plan. A somewhat rougher training, with further
A means of self-knowledge, and a greater share of personal responsibility, are pretty well known to turn out a more manly, firm, and vigorous character.
So the decision may be reached, that the boy shall be sent from home. But whither? To whom shall he be entrusted ? The tender side of the parental mind, (imagining or remembering the hard usage and rugged manners of school,) coupled with a most earnest desire that the boy's spiritual interests may be cared for, may incline towards a tutor who takes a limited number of pupils. In such a sphere there may be more watchful superintendence; a more wholesome personal influence may be brought to bear upon all the little circle ; there may be more consideration for the comfort and health of the pupils; and the companions to be met may have been more carefully chosen. A tutor is therefore to be sought; and he is to be one whose own religious principles are settled and right. But up may start the fear that in such a house may be encountered the “ one sickly sheep," by which all the
” flock may be infected. Is it not natural that under such a roof religious parents would seek to place the most unpromising of their sons, for improvement and correction; the boy who has been a sorrow and shame to them, unmanageable at home, and afterwards withdrawn from the public school, lest dishonour should come upon him?
Our inquiring parent, growing anxious and troubled, may next direct his attention to some small school; but he soon comes to the conclusion that in a limited number of twenty or thirty boys, all one community, a single strong will is likely to gain the ascendancy, and that, if the tendencies of that one youth be evil, he will corrupt the whole mass. He sees that, even if he had found a school of this kind in which the tone is at present good, the changes which are always taking place might at any time turn the stream in an opposite direction.
What, then, of a large private school? He first weighs the merits of those in which the public school system is carefully and professedly eschewed. There is no monitorial police. The masters are always present with the boys, in the play-ground, and at meal-times, as well as during lessons. He reflects, and
, he begins to see, that while some evils are kept out, others are rather promoted. The boys are tempted to appear to be what they are not. In other cases they go rightly, not from principle, but because they cannot help themselves. They are too much in leading-strings, if not in bondage; and there is not scope enough for the discipline of character, and for its firm building up, so that it may go alone. But there are other large schools, conducted on the public school system, in which there is less of external restraint, and more of individual responsibility, and where, at the same time, individual influences over others, whether for good or evil, are moderated by public opinion, and by certain abstract and traditional notions. The question here naturally arises as to the comparative
Vol. 63.-No. 315.