1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

James William Miller, "The Life of Michael Bruce" Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette [Portland] 1 (19 November 1828) 371.



I think I never met with a character more delicately beautiful than is here portrayed. He is mourned for as unfortunate; I do not deem him so. His life was withdrawn early indeed — his golden bowl was broken while it was yet full; and even the few years that were allotted to him, were rolled away amid solitude and poverty: but these are not the greatest evils of life; the former makes the latter tolerable. The poor man, with a mind like that of M. B. is shielded by solitude from most of the miseries of poverty; he has not to endure "the rich man's contumely, the proud man's scorn" — he has not to bide the blows and buffets of the world.

The morning of life is naturally and almost inevitably happy. It is, in most cases, impossible for any mind, until it reaches the age of twelve or fourteen years, to conceive misery with poignancy — in one like Mr. B. it was undoubtedly so; and during the latter part of his existence, or after that age, certainly he need not have been miserable. He lived in the beautiful village of Kinross, his abode a cottage overrun with honeysuckles, and his employment teaching children. Surely there is nothing very revolting in this picture of his circumstances — nothing that should cause many moans for his "misfortunes." The picture is a true one. He was poor indeed; but riches were not to him necessary for the purchase of pleasure. His own elegant mind could furnish him store of entertainment without money and without price. His lot was lowly; but honours do not bring happiness; and obscure, but he was known to good men, and beloved by them. I would be Michael Bruce, and live and die like him.

M.