Robert Southey described poet Michael Bruce as "A youth of real genius, whose life was embittered and shortened by poverty". The author of "Elegy Written in Spring" died on July 15, 1767, at the young age of 21. Having achieved a fair measure of success by this age, one wonders what he could have produced had he lived longer.
Sir Walter Scott seems to have held a different opinion than Southey, at least in comparison to William Knox, who managed to live into his mid thirties. Scott comments in his journal on December 8, 1825: 'Talking of the vixisse, it may not be impertinent to notice that Knox, a young poet of considerable talent, died here a week or two since. His father was a respectable yeoman, and he himself, succeeding to good farms under the Duke of Buccleuch, became too soon his own master, and plunged into dissipation and ruin. His poetical talent, a very fine one, then showed itself in a fine strain of pensive poetry, called, I think, The Lonely Hearth, far superior to those of Michael Bruce, whose consumption, by the way, has been the life of his verses.