Charles Mackay’s Last Poem.

Charles Mackay, the eminent poet and journalist, died in London on
Christmas Eve, 1889. Up to a late hour in the evening of Sunday,
December 22, he was engaged in reading the ‘ Life and Works of
Robert Burns,’ his favourite author, and during that day he seems to
have whiled away the time by the composition of the following graceful
stanzas, written in the Scottish manner, his love for his native country
and dialect being one of his strongest characteristics. Finishing the
poem, he dated it, in a somewhat tremulous handwriting, “ Dec. 22,
1889,” and then went quietly to the bed from which, though he knew
it not, he was never again to rise. He passed away peacefully on the
Tuesday morning, unconscious of suffering, his face in death assuming a
singularly impressive look of wisdom and placidity, one curious cireum-
stance being that the right hand which had written so much and so
unweariedly, folded itself, in the last long sleep, into the customary posi-
tion for holding the pen, and so remained. The last two lines of the
poem here published, touchingly imply the poet’s instinctive spiritual
sense of his approaching release from all earthly labour.—M. M.
[The above note, by the daughter of the deceased poet, relates so
simply and touchingly the circumstances under which his last poem was
written, that it is unnecessary to add further comment, except to say,
that Dr Mackay was one of the oldest surviving contributors to ‘ Maga,’
to which he sent articles in prose and verse, from time to time, and
which were highly appreciated—Ed. B. M.]

“ My Wife’s a Winsome Wee Thing.1


My wife’s a winsome wee thing,1
Wed twenty years or mair,2
And aye the bonnier growing,3
As baith mine eyes declare.4
’Tis love that made her bonnie,5
And love that keeps her sae,6
In spite o’ Time and Fortune,7
On Life’s uncannie way.8

1 The title alone of this poem, but neither the idea nor the treatment, is
borrowed from Robert Burns.—Author’s Note.


Love scares awa’ the wrinkles9
From aff her smooth white brow,10
And duty done through good and ill11
Aye keeps her conscience true,—12
And yields her happy peace of mind,13
If e’er the world goes wrong,14
And turns the murmur of lament15
Into a cheerful song.16


The kisses gather on her lips17
Like blossoms on the rose,18
And kindly thoughts reflect the light19
That in her bosom glows,—20
As wavelets in a running stream21
Reflect the noontide ray,22
And sparkle with the light of heaven.23
When rippling on their way.24


She is a winsome wee thing,25
And more than twenty year26
She’s twined herself about my heart27
By all that can endear ;28
By all that can endear on earth29
Foreshadowing things above,30
And lead my happy soul to heaven,31
Rejoicing in her love !32