Bruce's father was a weaver in Scotland, but out of his humble earnings afforded his beloved son, whose poetical talents were developed even in childhood, an education at the University of Edinburgh. After the usual classic course, the youthful poet entered on the study of Divinity; but while teaching a small school at no great distance from his native place he was seized with a deep consumption, in the midst of which he composed his poem on Lochleven. He toiled patiently onwards awhile through his day and evening school, till at length the progress of disease compelled him to resign his sanguine hopes, and return to his father's house, where he expired in his twenty-first year.
Lochleven contains much that is beautiful in itself, and as a whole, gave promise of great poetical excellence in future. The Elegy written on the prospect of his own dissolution is deeply pathetic; — "a most interesting relic of his amiable feelings and fortitude."