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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

His Last Illness

His Last Illness.

Though the state of the health of the Rev. Dr Stuart was generally understood for some veeks past to have been so precarious that his &ith might be expected at any moment, and gg community was thus in a sense prepared for the event, a mighty throb of grief was felt flroughout the city on Saturday morning, and vis not confined to any class or denomination fc sect of the people, but was absolutely general, vfaeo the mournful word was regretfully passed from one to another that the much-beloved putor of Knox Church, who occupied a position in the minds of the public of Otago that ns quite unique, had passed away. Outward Uns of mourning were exhibited in many Sections—the flags on the shipping, on the lintaffs at the Town Hall and Garrison Hall, ud at various business offices being displayed blfmast high—and the event was everywhere ipoken of in reverent whispers. By the rev. mtleman himself and by those who posited the privilege of being his intimate Jnendi the termination of his life was Etalcogether unexpected. Serious abdominal £ease had for a long time been slowly GderminiDg his strength and breaking down ereo his fibrous constitution, and this, coupled with returning symptoms of the heart failure, jlbch first loomed up in the latter end of 1887, ttosed grave anxiety to his medical adviser, ilrerynow and then he had periods of great Edily stress and pain, but no sooner was each attack alleviated than the doctor was up and doing. Indeed it was this life of ceaseless toil and abnegation that hastened his end. About five weeks back Dunedin was visited by a remarkably severe, cold wintry day—it was a Monday—and on the previous day the doctor had preached with unusual vigour and energy his last pulpit sermons. He had been early astir, as was his wont, and with his usual recklessness of self, had not observed the weather until it was too late. A very severe chill, followed by extensive congestion of both lungs, ensued, and though he recovered from the acute symptoms of this fresh trouble the strain on his vitality proved too much for him—he never regained his old strength, and on and off he had days of great distress. On Friday his condition was very critical, and, as illustrative of that anxiety to spare trouble to others which was characteristic with him, it may just be mentioned that on that day, when he was already within the shadow of the dark valley, he expressed a desire to leave his room upstairs and to die in the manse dining room, so that those who would have to do with his body after the spirit should have taken its flight might be relieved as much as possible of inconvenience. Towards Friday evening he revived somewhat, and later on he obtained several refreshing snatches of sleep. About 5 o'clock on Saturday morning he arcse, but shortly afterwards he lay down again on his bed. His nurse, noticing a sudden change upon him, at once sent for Dr Coughtrey, who remained with the patient for over an hour. From the time at which the change was observed Dr Stuart's life gradually ebbed away, and at 7 a.m., peacefully and without a struggle, the end came. His son, Mr William Stuart, who, on being called for, arrived from Melbourne about a week ago, his faithful and patient housekeeper (Miss Laing), and his nurse (Mrs Groves) were present when death almost imperceptibly came upon Dr Stuart, and his medical adviser, who had been with him just before, was with him also immediately after the event. From 5 o'clock until the time of his death the rev. gentleman, though conscious, was almost speechless, and now after life's fitful fever he sleeps well.