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of promptings to genius. The ancient burgh, with its quaint old-world usages; the Roman Bridge ; remnants of hermitages, chapels, and shrines; fabulous wells of virtue ; suburbs of seafaring veterans, grey with the awe of “hair-breadth 'scapes ;" houses of antique fame, embowered in the depths of venerable trees ; crumbling castles and bloody old battle-fields
; the sunny slopes of Inveresk, and the sweep of view from its crowning summit-Craigmillar, and Arthur's Seat, and Edinburgh hanging high in the west ; the far-off Ochils, so soft and graceful, melting into sky; Inchkeith and Bass in the waters ; villas and towns gleaming away on the bending shore ; Esk from its inland woods; the multitudinous sea, with its everchanging aspects of storm and calm, of terror and beauty-how impressive must all this have been to the thoughtful and enthusiastic boy who had his “home and haunt” in the midst of it.
Moir was now thirteen years old, when Dr Stewart, a medical practitioner in Musselburgh, a man of talent and worth, and very successful in his business, having known the boy for some time, and liked him greatly, got him as an apprentice. The term was four years ; but the indenture bore that, in the last winter of his service, David was to be free to attend college, in the pursuit of his medical studies. Thus was his professional life determined. He entered upon his new duties with his usual cheerful zeal, to the special satisfaction of his kind-hearted master, who treated him more as a personal friend than an apprentice. The following anecdote, communicated by his brother, Mr Hugh Moir, refers to the first or second year of his apprenticeship: —“Late on a Saturday night, in the depth of winter, an alarm having been given that the body of a poor
man, who had accidentally fallen into the mill-stream, had been found at the Sea-mill, I accompanied my brother David to the place to which the body had been conveyed after it was taken out of the water. Two other medical men, besides himself, tried the usual means of resuscitation, and persevered in their humane efforts till every one present saw the case to be utterly hopeless. A cart was then ordered, and the body was sent to the house where it was ascertained the man had lodged. My brother and I returned home. About midnight I was surprised on being awakened by him, with the request that I should accompany him to the house to which the body had been taken. It was at a considerable distance, and in a dirty narrow close at the west end of the town. Off we went accordingly. On entering, my brother desired a candle to be lighted, and I having accompanied him into the little room, we found the body covered with a sheet, and a plate of salt laid upon the breast. Withdrawing the sheet, David anxiously passed his hand over the body, to ascertain if any warmth still existed. It was evidently on his part a 'hoping against hope.' He was satisfied, however, after having done this ; and the sheet having been carefully replaced over the corpse, we went home. That he had even the shadow of a shade of hope in this visit, I do not imagine ; I attribute it solely to a nervous anxiety for his own self-satisfaction.” A characteristic anecdote, indicating that keen conscientiousness of practical duty which was the primary foundation of Moir's character, and that nervous sensibility which belongs to the poetical temperament.
Business first, literary recreation next-and poetry the prime of it; such was the key-note on which Moir pitched his life, and kept it to the end. Business has not been neglected : the recreation now begins. Our author's first poetical attempt bears the date of 1812, when he was in his fifteenth year. The lines are correct and neat, but altogether imitative, being after the manner of Pope's first verses : genius, even the most original, is always imitative at first. Soon after this, he made his way with two short prose essays into The Cheap Magazine, a small Haddington publication. Of the anxieties connected with this, his first public appearance as an author, he sometimes spoke in after years, playfully describing the restless impatience with which he went out into the street to await the arrival of the stage-coach by which the magazine was sent, and the rapture with which he “saw himself actually in print."
In the last winter of his apprenticeship, young Moir attended Edinburgh College. Every Monday morning he walked up to his classes, and he returned home every Saturday night to spend the Sabbath in the family circle. “ During the week,” says his brother Hugh, “he lodged in a small room in Shakespeare Square. In the evenings he was in the habit of attending Carfrae's sale-rooms, where the best part of his small weekly allowance of pocket-money was expended on books. I remember the pride with which, every Saturday night, he showed us his weekly purchases. His economy and contentedness were admirable, mental improvement being his great aim. Occasionally he indulged in a visit to the theatre, to see the performances of Mrs Siddons and Miss O'Neill, John Kemble and Edmund Kean, which made a very powerful inpression upon his mind.” At the conclusion of his apprenticeship he attended college regularly, and got his diploma as a surgeon in the spring of 1816, when he
was only eighteen years of age. It was his purpose to enter the medical department of the army ; but the battle of Waterloo had now put military matters on a different footing, and so the purpose was given up. He returned home, and spent the summer in literary pursuits, contributing occasionally to The Scots Magazine, and taking an active part in a debating society, which he had instituted under the title of “The Musselburgh Forum.” Of this society he was secretary ; and so pleased were the members with his services, that, at the end of their session, they unanimously voted him a silver medal, suitably inscribed. Toward the close of the same year he ventured on a small anonymous publication, entitled The Bombardment of Algiers, and other Poems. The edition was distributed almost wholly among his friends. The performance was not without promise ; but, as the public have no sympathy with “very good, considering,” it won no 'fame.
One important attribute is noticeable in all our young poet's early rhymes--namely, what Wordsworth calls “ the accomplishment of verse,” in easy play. Whether it be an original faculty, or how “the accomplishment” may come, it is difficult to determine ; but certain it is, that men essentially and by nature great poets have wanted it, and, wanting it, have missed poetic fame. Take Jeremy Taylor, for example, whose mind was as a rich virgin soil, unconscious of the plough, casting up its enormous prodigality of abundance, trees of stature like the cedars of Lebanon, jungles of tangled bloom, and monstrous weeds—still “weeds of glorious feature”—
« Wild above rule or art." Strange that such a nature, with all its teeming foison
of poetry, did not burst out into rhythmical measures. He tried it, but his overt poetry is pitiful prose. Compared with his own unmeasured prose, flashing its lights from myriad points, it is Ariel pegged in the entrails of the knotted oak, to Ariel “playing in the plighted clouds."
In 1817 our young surgeon joined Dr Brown of Musselburgh, as a partner in his medical practice. The practice was an extensive one, and the toil was great. Moir's father, however, was just dead, and his mother was left to “the battle of life ;” and so the wellprincipled young man, ever ready for honest work, took the new toil upon him all the more zealously, in order to help her. “Many a time,” says his brother Charles, “have I heard my mother, who was a woman of a strong mind, record with a tearful eye the struggles of that period, and the noble bearing of her son David, who carried her successfully through all her difficulties.” Nor, amidst these grave responsibilities, was literature forgotten. Moir was now acquainted with Mr Thomas Pringle, author of The Autumnal Excursion, and one of the editors of Constable's Edinburgh Magazine, and became a frequent contributor, both in prose and verse, to that publication. Business and literary exercises so laborious drew upon young Moir's hours of sleep. “ When the duties of the day were over,” says his brother Charles—"and it was always nine or ten o'clock in the evening before he could count on that-after supper the candle was lighted in his bed-room, and the work of the desk began. Having shared the same room with him for many years in my early life, the routine of those nights is as fresh in my mind as if it had been but yesterday. With that tender care for others, which was the distinguishing