Brothers Grant, John Kennedy, Edward Lloyd, George Murray, James Frazer, William Fairbairn, and Hugh and Joseph Birley, all of whom gave him a most cordial welcome, and invited him to enjoy their hospitality.

Alexander Nasmyth. After a cameo by Samuel Joseph

In 1838 he visited me again. I had removed to Patricroft, and the Bridgewater Foundry was in full operation. My father was then in his eightieth year. He was still full of life and intellect. He was vastly delighted in witnessing the rapid progress which I had made since his first visit. He took his daily walk through the workshops, where many processes were going on which greatly interested him. He was sufficiently acquainted with the technical details of mechanical work to enjoy the sight, especially when self-acting tools were employed. It was a great source of pleasure to him to have "a crack" with the most intelligent foremen and mechanics. These, on their part, treated him with the most kind and respectful attention. The Scotch workmen regarded him with special veneration. They knew that he had been an intimate friend of Robert Burns, their own best-beloved poet, whose verses shed a charm upon their homes, and were recited by the fireside, in the fields, or at the workman's bench.

They also knew that he had painted the only authentic portrait of their national bard. This fact invested my father with additional interest in their eyes. Their respect for him culminated in a rather extraordinary demonstration. On the last day of his visit the leading Scotch workmen procured "on the sly" an arm- chair, which they fastened to two strong bearing poles. When my father left the works at the bell-ringing at mid-day, he was approached by the workmen, and respectfully requested to "take the chair." He refused; but it was of no use. He was led to the chair, and took it. He was then raised and carried in triumph to my house. He was carefully set down at the little garden-gate, where the men affectionately took leave of him, and ended their cordial good wishes for his safe return home with three hearty cheers. I need scarcely say that my father was greatly affected by this kind demonstration on the part of the workmen.

His life was fast drawing to a close. He had borne the heat and burden of the day; and was about to be taken home like a shock of corn in full season. After a long and happy life, blessed and cheered by a most affectionate wife, he laid down his brushes and went to rest. In his later years he rejoiced in the prosperity of his children, which was all the more agreeable as it was the result of the example of industry and perseverance which he had ever set before them. My father untiringly continued his professional occupations until 1840, when he had attained the age of eighty-two. His later works may be found wanting in that degree of minute finish which characterised his earlier productions; but in regard to their quality there was no falling off, even to the last picture which he painted. The delicate finish was amply compensated by the increase in general breadth and effectiveness, so that his later works were even more esteemed by his brother-artists. The last picture he painted was finished eight days before his death. It was a small work. The subject was a landscape with an autumnal evening effect. There was a picturesque cottage in the middle distance, a rustic bridge over a brook in the foreground, and an old labouring man, followed by his dog, wearily passing over it on his way towards his home. From the chimney of his cottage a thin streak of blue smoke passed upward through the tranquil evening air . All these incidents suggested the idea, which no doubt he desired to convey, of the tranquil conclusion of his own long and active life, which was then, too evidently, drawing to a close. The shades of evening had come on when he could no longer see to work, and he was obliged to lay down his pencil. My mother was at work with her needle close by him; and when he had finished he asked her what he should call the picture. Not being ready with an answer, he leant back in his chair, feeling rather faint, and said, "Well, I think I had better call it Going Home." And so it was called.

Next morning his strength had so failed him that he could not get up. He remained there for eight days, and then he painlessly and tranquilly passed away. While on his deathbed he expressed the desire that his remains should be placed beside those of a favourite son who had died in early youth. "Let me lie," he said, "beside my dear Alick." His desire was gratified. He was buried beside his son in St. Cuthbert's churchyard, under the grandest portion of the great basaltic rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands. His grave is marked by a fine Runic Cross, admirably sculptured by Rhind of Edinburgh.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.