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Robert Cornwall Mackintosh
by: C. H. Mackintosh


This account affords a rare and choice glimpse into the private and personal life of one of the Lord's well known servants.


Robert  Mackintosh

From: Things New and Old, Vol 18 (1875)
Contributed by our friend: Bohuslav Koša,
Poštovα 51,   900 27 Bernolαkovo, Slovakia

THE time had arrived when it was absolutely necessary to prepare for our March issue;

Being thus, for the time, wholly unfitted for the discharge of my duties as an editor, I trust our many kind readers will allow me for this once to indulge my feelings as a father.

I quite feel that, in thus merging the editor in the father, I am adopting a very unusual course, and presenting a large draft upon the kind indulgence of the many beloved readers, friends, and correspondents, of "Things New and Old".

Besides, I am persuaded that there are thousands of loving hearts who will welcome this brief record of one who, though they may never have known him personally, has nevertheless occupied a large place in their affectionate thoughts and earnest prayers — for which I would take this opportunity of thanking them with an overflowing heart.

It is not by any means my intention to give a detailed account of the life of "R.C.M." I can do no more than — as indicated in the heading of this paper — give a very few details of his last days, during which the spiritual life in him developed itself with remarkable force and fragrance.

This must in every case be looked for. A blameless life is not enough. A man may lead that, and yet be an enemy and a blasphemer of Christ.

A blameless life, a brilliant reputation, will not do. No, nor a christian training either.

Thanks be to God, the beloved subject of this sketch knew the real meaning of all this.

I solemnly warn all young christian parents against this most sad evil. Let young mothers devote themselves wholly to the sacred and solemn business of training their children.

Governed by divine principle and the instincts of a true motherly heart, Robert's mother made the training and care of her children, her primary business, and she has reaped, so far, a blessed harvest.

However, Robert, though clear and decided in the confession of his faith, was never demonstrative as to his feelings.

This was so true! Those who knew him best loved him most. There was nothing superficial about him; and hence, mere casual observers knew him not.

A man who is all known in a moment is not much worth knowing.

But I must hasten on, lest I be found, through the weakness of a father's heart, how crushed with bitter grief, lingering over details which can possess no interest even for that beloved circle of friends for whom I write, and whose kind forbearance I claim.

However, there is one fact in our beloved Robert's life, as a student and as a medical practitioner, in reference to which we would offer a word of caution to all whom it may concern.

It will, perhaps, be said that those medical students who need a word of warning against over-work are few and far between.

But then these latter often kill themselves by their abominable self-indulgence. Yes, kill their bodies, and plunge their souls into eternal perdition, to gratify their lusts and passions!

Robert belonged not to this last-named class. He never crossed the threshold of a theatre in his life — never had a cigar or a pipe in his mouth — had an intense abhorrence of the vile, low, and abominable habits of smoking and drinking.

But he overworked himself, and did not take sufficient care of his precious health.

There is one other fact as to Robert's university life which I must not omit; and that is, he generally found time to attend the prayer-meeting.

On leaving the university, Robert spent a short time as a medical assistant at St. Helens, in Lancashire, and then went to Doncaster, where he remained as an assistant for a year and eight months.*

Here his health completely broke down. It was difficult to induce the dear fellow to give up. He longed to work with his hands the thing which is good, that he might have to give to him that needeth, and that he might not be chargeable to any.

His whole appearance as he sang this affecting hymn — the tones of his fine voice — the touch of his finger — all proved too much for some of his audience, who had to rush out of the room in a flood of tears.

After some weeks of rest at home, Robert felt equal to undertake a fortnight's practice for a medical gentleman in the neighbourhood of Manchester. We hardly thought him up to the mark, but he could not bear to be idle, and so he went.

This brought matters to a point. Robert particularly wished to obtain a surgeoncy on board some steamer; as he shrank from the idea of going out as an invalid passenger.

At length the parting moment arrived. It was truly the shadow of death.

Will my reader pardon me? I know it is out of place to write in such a strain, if I am to be judged by the standard of editorial propriety.

However, I must endeavour to be calm in my narrative of facts, though it is not easy when those facts cluster round a beloved son, who was bound up in one's very existence.

The "Ajax" sailed on Saturday, the 31st of October, 1874. We had from the outset made it a matter of most earnest prayer that the Lord would so order, that our beloved son might have some one on board with whom he could hold sweet christian fellowship.

Words fail to convey to the reader the deep consolation it afforded to my heart to find that our "beloved physician" was to have such companions in travel.

We would also take this opportunity of thanking the owners, the captain, the officers, and crew of the "Ajax", for all their kindness shewn to our son during his brief connection with them. May God reward them most abundantly!

And now I must let others tell the rest. The last sight I caught of Robert was as he stood on the deck of the "Ajax", waving his hat in a fond and final farewell.

The following is an extract from Mr. Piercy's letter to me. I trust he and Mr. Masters will kindly excuse my thus making use of their letters and journals without their permission. The sad circumstances of the case must be my apology.

S.S. 'Ajax,' Dec. 7th, 1874.

"My dear Sir,

"You will recollect my speaking a few words with you, at Liverpool, just before the 'Ajax' sailed; and your saying your son was going out in the ship as doctor. I noticed his paleness and feebleness; but did not think him so seriously ill.

"You would receive letters written by him at Port Said.*

"In the Canal, he became much worse; his strength seemed suddenly to give way. His cough was troublesome, but not very bad. The heat was great, and we all hoped that getting away from Suez, and especially if he was spared to have the cooler weather of the Indian Ocean his life might be prolonged.

"On Sunday, the 22nd of November, we passed Perim, at the mouth of the Red Sea; and it was cooler as we passed Aden; but he was sinking fast.

"As Captain Kidd will send you an official account of his death, I will now speak of the things he wished me to say to you, his parents.

"(1) He said, 'Tell my father that all on board have been very kind to me, and have done all they could for my comfort and welfare. Both the passengers and ship's officers have watched over me; and I have had all the help I could under the circumstances.'*

"(2) Then he said, 'I have been kept in peace of mind. My Saviour has been with me. It is sweet to trust in Him; and all will be well!'

"(3) Give any further account of my illness and end that you think will comfort my parents and family."

"I trust, dear sir, that you will find some consolation in knowing the above facts, and in having a few more of. your dear son's words which I will try to write down for you.

"One day, he said to me, 'How sweet it will be to fall asleep in Jesus!'

"When passages of scripture or hymns were read or quoted to him, he responded with pleasure, quoting others in return, showing that his mind was stored with divine truth, and that he found in it support and consolation.

"We all deeply sympathise with you, dear Mr. And Mrs. Mackintosh, on this great loss to you of such a son; but our Father's will is, doubtless, the best; and, in heaven, you will meet your lost one, and never lose him again.

"My wife and colleagues join me in christian love.

"I am, yours truly, "GEORGE PIERCY."


"Saturday, Nov. 21st. — 'I sat up with the Doctor again, to-night. He has given instructions, to-day, about his goods and chattels. During the night, he was frequently wandering in his mind. Sometimes, he was quite rational; and this afforded me an opportunity for spiritual conversation and prayer. He is quite resigned, and very happy. He has expected this for some time. It is rapid consumption which is wasting him away. I could not leave him a minute, until Melley relieved me.

"Sunday, Nov. 22nd. The Doctor is getting worse. He has a little cot suspended from the rigging. It gives him the benefit of the fresh air, and takes off the ship's motion.*

"Monday, 23rd. — We gathered round his bed, to-night, and sang 'Rock of ages', and, 'Abide with me'. Then I prayed with him; and left Mr. Falconer sitting up with him.

"Tuesday, 24th. — Mr. Nightingale, who had sat up with the Doctor since 2 o'clock, came running down and awoke me, about 4 o'clock, to say he was dead. He passed away so quietly, they scarcely knew when he died."

Referring to the last sad scene, Mr. Masters says, "The engines had ceased during the service, and all was as quiet as death, except the voice of Mr. Piercy, and the solemn tolling of the ship's bell. Such solemn time I never experienced. It was just one of those moments in a man's life when worldly hopes and fears are humbled into the dust before thoughts of eternity.

We sang that solemn hymn, in 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' for the burial of the dead. We buried him in lat. 13 deg. 10 min. N; long. 50 deg. 40 min. E."

We fondly hope for some further memorials of this loved one, either from his own pen, or from some one or other of that dear loving missionary band, who so blessedly soothed him in his last hours. Should such come to hand, we shall certainly communicate them to that much loved circle for whom this sketch is specially prepared.

I cannot refrain from giving an extract from a letter just received from a gentleman under whose roof our Robert spent a year and eight months as assistant, and who therefore was in a position to judge as to the reality of his christian profession. It is a common and a true remark that you must live with a person in order to know them

I feel profoundly thankful for this testimony to one who had a perfect horror of all mere wordy profession.

The following lines are from the pen of a very dear friend who has known Robert from his childhood.

Here, then, for the present I pause. May the Lord graciously deign to use this little memorial of our beloved departed one, in blessing to the soul of the reader.

Things New and Old, Vol 18 (1875)

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