IN SIX VOLUMES;
ADAM & CHARLES BLACK, NORTH BRIDGE,
BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS TO HER MAJESTY.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
WILLIAM STIRLING, ESQ. OF KEIR, M.P.,
AN ENLIGHTENED SENATOR, AN ACCOMPLISHED SCHOLAR, AND AN INGENIOUS POET,
THIS FIRST VOLUME
The Modern Scottish Minstrel
WITH HIS KIND PERMISSION, MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
HIS VERY OBEDIENT, FAITHFUL SERVANT,
Scotland has probably produced a more patriotic and more extended minstrelsy than any other country in the world. Those Caledonian harp-strains, styled by Sir Walter Scott "gems of our own mountains," have frequently been gathered into caskets of national song, but have never been stored in any complete cabinet; while no attempt has been made, at least on an ample scale, to adapt, by means of suitable metrical translations, the minstrelsy of the Gaël for Lowland melody. The present work has been undertaken with the view of supplying these deficiencies, and with the further design of extending the fame of those cultivators of Scottish song—hitherto partially obscured by untoward circumstances, or on account of their own diffidence—and of affording a stimulus towards the future cultivation of national poetry.
The plan of the work is distinct from that of every previous collection of Scottish song—the more esteemed lyrical compositions of the various bards being printed[Pg vi] along with the memoirs of the respective authors, while the names of the poets have been arranged in chronological order. Those have been considered as modern whose lives extend into the past half-century; and the whole of these have consequently been included in the work. Several Highland bards who died a short period before the commencement of the century have, however, been introduced. Of all the Scottish poets, whether lyrical or otherwise, who survived the period indicated, biographical sketches will be supplied in the course of the publication, together with memoirs of the principal modern collectors, composers and vocalists. The memoirs, so far as is practicable, will be prepared from original materials, of which the Editor, after a very extensive correspondence, has obtained a supply more ample and more interesting than, he flatters himself, has ever been attained by any collector of northern minstrelsy. The work will extend to six volumes, each of the subsequent volumes being accompanied by a dissertation on a distinct department of Scottish poetry and song. Each volume will be illustrated with two elegant engravings. In the course of the work, many original compositions will be presented, recovered from the MSS. of the deceased poets, or contributed by distinguished living bards.
For the department of the "Modern Gaelic Minstrelsy," the Editor has obtained the assistance of a learned friend, intimately familiar with the language and poetry of the Highlands. To this esteemed co-[Pg vii]adjutor the reader is indebted for the revisal of the Gaelic department of this work, as well as for the following prefatory observations on the subject:—
"Among the intelligent natives of the Highlands, it is well known that the Gaelic language contains a quantity of poetry, which, how difficult soever to transfuse into other tongues and idioms, never fails to touch the heart, and excite enthusiastic feelings. The plan of 'The Modern Scottish Minstrel' restricts us to a period less favourable to the inspirations of the Celtic muse than remoter times. If it is asked, What could be gained by recurring to a more distant period? or what this unlettered people have really to shew for their bardic pretensions? we answer, that there is extant a large and genuine collection of Highland minstrelsy, ranging over a long exciting period, from the days of Harlaw to the expedition of Charles Edward. The 'Prosnachadh Catha,' or battle-song, that led on the raid of Donald the Islander on the Garioch, is still sung; the 'Woes of the Children of the Mist' are yet rehearsed in the ears of their children in the most plaintive measures. Innerlochy and Killiecrankie have their appropriate melodies; Glencoe has its dirge; both the exiled Jameses have their pæan and their lament; Charles Edward his welcome and his wail;—all in strains so varied, and with imagery so copious, that their repetition is continually called for, and their interest untiring.
"All that we have to offer belongs to recent times; but we cannot aver that the merit of the verses is inferior. The interest of the subjects is certainly immeasurably less; but, perhaps, not less propitious to the lilts and the luinneags, in which, as in her music and imitative dancing, the Highland border has found her best Lowland acceptation.
"We are not aware that we need except any piece, out of the more ancient class, that seems not to admit of being rivalled by some of the compositions of Duncan Ban (Macintyre), Rob Donn, and a few others that come into our own series, if we exclude the[Pg viii] pathetic 'Old Bard's Wish,' 'The Song of the Owl,' and, perhaps, Ian Lom's 'Innerlochy.'
"But, while this may be so far satisfactory to our readers, we are under the necessity of claiming their charitable forbearance for the strangers of the mountain whom we are to introduce to their acquaintance. The language, and, in some respects, the imagery and versification, are as foreign to the usages of the Anglo-Saxon as so many samples of Orientalism. The transfusion of the Greek and Latin choral metres is a light effort to the difficulty of imitating the rhythm, or representing the peculiar vein of these song-enamoured mountaineers. Those who know how a favourite ode of Horace, or a lay of Catullus, is made to look, except in mere paraphrase, must not talk of the poorness or triteness of the Highlander's verses, till they are enabled to do them justice by a knowledge of the language. We disdain any attempt to make those bards sing in the mere English taste, even if we could so translate them as to make them speak or sing better than they do. The fear of his sarcasms prevented Dr Johnson from hearing one literal version during his whole sojourn in the Highlands. Sir Walter Scott wished that somebody might have the manliness to recover Highland poetry from the mystification of paraphrase or imposture, and to present it genuine to the English reader. In that spirit we promise to execute our task; and we shall rejoice if even a very moderate degree of success should attend our endeavours to obtain for the sister muse some share of that popularity to which we believe her entitled."
In respect of the present volume of "The Modern Scottish Minstrel," the Editor has to congratulate himself on his being enabled to present, for the first time in a popular form, the more esteemed lays of Carolina, Baroness Nairn, author of "The Laird o' Cockpen," "The Land o' the Leal," and a greater number of[Pg ix] popular lyrics than any other Caledonian bard, Burns alone excepted. Several pieces of this accomplished lady, not previously published, have been introduced, through the kindness of her surviving friends. The memoir of the Baroness has been prepared from original documents entrusted to the Editor. For permission to engrave "The Auld House o' Gask," Lady Nairn's birth-place, the Editor's thanks are due to Mr Paterson, music-seller in Edinburgh.
While the present volume of "The Modern Scottish Minstrel" is offered to the public with becoming diffidence, the Editor is not without a faint ray of hope that, if health and sufficient leisure are afforded him, the present publication may be found the most ample and satisfactory repository of national song which has at any period been offered to the public.
Argyle House, Stirling,
April 18, 1855.
Among those modern Scottish poets whose lives, by extending to a considerably distant period, render them connecting links between the old and recent minstrelsy of Caledonia, the first place is due to the Rev. John Skinner. This ingenious and learned person was born on the 3d of October 1721, at Balfour, in the parish of Birse, and county of Aberdeen. His father, who bore the same Christian name, was parochial schoolmaster; but two years after his son's birth, he was presented to the more lucrative situation of schoolmaster of Echt, a parish about twelve miles distant from Aberdeen. He discharged the duties of this latter appointment during the long incumbency of fifty years. He was twice married. By his first union with Mrs Jean Gillanders, the relict of Donald Farquharson of Balfour, was born an only child, the subject of this memoir. The mother dying when the child was only two years old, the charge of his early training depended solely on his father, who for several years remained a widower. The paternal duties were adequately performed: the son,[Pg 2] while a mere youth, was initiated in classical learning, and in his thirteenth year he became a successful competitor for a bursary or exhibition in Marischal College, Aberdeen. At the University, during the usual philosophical course of four years, he pursued his studies with diligence and success; and he afterwards became an usher in the parish schools of Kemnay and Monymusk.
From early youth, young Skinner had courted the Muse of his country, and composed verses in the Scottish dialect. When a mere stripling, he could repeat, which he did with enthusiasm, the long poem by James I. of "Christ-kirk on the Green;" he afterwards translated it into Latin verse; and an imitation of the same poem, entitled "The Monymusk Christmas Ba'ing," descriptive of the diversions attendant on the annual Christmas gatherings for playing the game of foot-ball at Monymusk, which he composed in his sixteenth year, attracting the notice of the lady of Sir Archibald Grant, Bart. of Monymusk, brought him the favour of that influential family. Though the humble usher of a parish school, he was honoured with the patronage of the worthy baronet and his lady, became an inmate of their mansion, and had the uncontrolled use of its library. The residence of the poet in Monymusk House indirectly conduced towards his forming those ecclesiastical sentiments which exercised such an important influence on his subsequent career. The Episcopal clergyman of the district was frequently a guest at the table of Sir Archibald; and by the arguments and persuasive conversation of this person, Mr Skinner was induced to enlist his sympathies in the cause of the Episcopal or non-juring clergy of Scotland. They bore the latter appellation from their refusal, during the existence of the exiled family of Stewart, to take the oath of allegiance to the House of[Pg 3] Hanover. In 1740, on the invitation of Mr Robert Forbes, Episcopal minister at Leith, afterwards a bishop, Mr Skinner, in the capacity of private tutor to the only son of Mr Sinclair of Scolloway, proceeded to Zetland, where he acquired the intimate friendship of the Rev. Mr Hunter, the only non-juring clergyman in that remote district. There he remained only one year, owing to the death of the elder Mr Sinclair, and the removal of his pupil to pursue his studies in a less retired locality. He lamented the father's death in Latin, as well as in English verse. He left Scolloway with the best wishes of the family; and as a substantial proof of the goodwill of his friend Mr Hunter, he received in marriage the hand of his eldest daughter.
Returning to Aberdeenshire, he was ordained a presbyter of the Episcopal Church, by Bishop Dunbar of Peterhead; and in November 1742, on the unanimous invitation of the people, he was appointed to the pastoral charge of the congregation at Longside. Uninfluenced by the soarings of ambition, he seems to have fixed here, at the outset, a permanent habitation: he rented a cottage at Linshart in the vicinity, which, though consisting only of a single apartment, besides the kitchen, sufficed for the expenditure of his limited emoluments. In every respect he realised Goldsmith's description of the village pastor:—
Secluded, however, as were Mr Skinner's habits, and though he never had interfered in the political movements of the period, he did not escape his share in those[Pg 4] ruthless severities which were visited upon the non-juring clergy subsequent to the last Rebellion. His chapel was destroyed by the soldiers of the barbarous Duke of Cumberland; and, on the plea of his having transgressed the law by preaching to more than four persons without subscribing the oath of allegiance, he was, during six months, detained a prisoner in the jail of Aberdeen.
Entering on the sacred duties of the pastoral office, Mr Skinner appears to have checked the indulgence of his rhyming propensities. His subsequent poetical productions, which include the whole of his popular songs, were written to please his friends, or gratify the members of his family, and without the most distant view to publication. In 1787, he writes to Burns, on the subject of Scottish song:—"While I was young, I dabbled a good deal in these things; but on getting the black gown, I gave it pretty much over, till my daughters grew up, who, being all tolerably good singers, plagued me for words to some of their favourite tunes, and so extorted those effusions which have made a public appearance, beyond my expectations, and contrary to my intentions; at the same time, I hope there is nothing to be found in them uncharacteristic or unbecoming the cloth, which I would always wish to see respected." Some of Mr Skinner's best songs were composed at a sitting, while they seldom underwent any revision after being committed to paper. To the following incident, his most popular song, "Tullochgorum," owed its origin. In the course of a visit he was making to a friend in Ellon (not Cullen, as has been stated on the authority of Burns), a dispute arose among the guests on the subject of Whig and Tory politics, which, becoming somewhat too exciting for the comfort of the lady of the[Pg 5] house, in order to bring it promptly to a close, she requested Mr Skinner to suggest appropriate words for the favourite air, "The Reel of Tullochgorum." Mr Skinner readily complied, and, before leaving the house, produced what Burns, in a letter to the author, characterised as "the best Scotch song ever Scotland saw." The name of the lady who made the request to the poet was Mrs Montgomery, and hence the allusion in the first stanza of the ballad:—
Though claiming no distinction as a writer of verses, Mr Skinner did not conceal his ambition to excel in another department of literature. In 1746, in his twenty-fifth year, he published a pamphlet, in defence of the non-juring character of his Church, entitled "A Preservative against Presbytery." A performance of greater effort, published in 1757, excited some attention, and the unqualified commendation of the learned Bishop Sherlock. In this production, entitled "A Dissertation on Jacob's Prophecy," which was intended as a supplement to a treatise on the same subject by Dr Sherlock, the author has established, by a critical examination of the original language, that the words in Jacob's prophecy (Gen. xlix. 10), rendered "sceptre" and "lawgiver" in the authorised version, ought to be translated "tribeship" and "typifier," a difference of interpretation which obviates some difficulties respecting the exact fulfilment of this remarkable prediction. In a pamphlet printed in 1767, Mr Skinner again vindicated the claims and authority of his Church; and on[Pg 6] this occasion, against the alleged misrepresentations of Mr Norman Sievewright, English clergyman at Brechin, who had published a work unfavourable to the cause of Scottish Episcopacy. His most important work, "An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, from the first appearance of Christianity in that kingdom," was published in the year 1788, in two octavo volumes. This publication, which is arranged in the form of letters to a friend, and dedicated, in elegant Latin verse, "Ad Filium et Episcopum," (to his son, and bishop), by partaking too rigidly of a sectarian character, did not attain any measure of success. Mr Skinner's other prose works were published after his death, together with a Memoir of the author, under the editorial care of his son, Bishop Skinner of Aberdeen. These consist of theological essays, in the form of "Letters addressed to Candidates for Holy Orders," "A Dissertation on the Sheckinah, or Divine Presence with the Church or People of God," and "An Essay towards a literal or true radical exposition of the Song of Songs," the whole being included in two octavo volumes, which appeared in 1809. A third volume was added, containing a collection of the author's compositions in Latin verse, and his fugitive songs and ballads in the Scottish dialect—the latter portion of this volume being at the same time published in a more compendious form, with the title, "Amusements of Leisure Hours; or, Poetical Pieces, chiefly in the Scottish dialect."
Though living in constant retirement at Linshart, the reputation of the Longside pastor, both as a poet and a man of classical taste, became widely extended, and persons distinguished in the world of letters sought his correspondence and friendship. With Dr Gleig, afterwards titular Bishop of Brechin, Dr Doig of Stirling,[Pg 7] and John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, he maintained an epistolary intercourse for several years. Dr Gleig, who edited the Encyclopædia Britannica, consulted Mr Skinner respecting various important articles contributed to that valuable publication. His correspondence with Doig and Ramsay was chiefly on their favourite topic of philology. These two learned friends visited Mr Skinner in the summer of 1795, and entertained him for a week at Peterhead. This brief period of intellectual intercourse was regarded by the poet as the most entirely pleasurable of his existence; and the impression of it on the vivid imagination of Mr Ramsay is recorded in a Latin eulogy on his northern correspondent, which he subsequently transmitted to him. A poetical epistle addressed by Mr Skinner to Robert Burns, in commendation of his talents, was characterized by the Ayrshire Bard as "the best poetical compliment he had ever received." It led to a regular correspondence, which was carried on with much satisfaction to both parties. The letters, which chiefly relate to the preparation of Johnson's Musical Museum, then in the course of publication, have been included in his published correspondence. Burns never saw Mr Skinner; he had not informed himself as to his locality during the prosecution of his northern tour, and had thus the mortification of ascertaining that he had been in his neighbourhood, without having formed his personal acquaintance. To Mr Skinner's son, whom he accidentally met in Aberdeen on his return, he expressed a deep regret for the blunder, as "he would have gone twenty miles out of his way to visit the author of 'Tullochgorum.'"
As a man of ingenuity, various acquirements, and agreeable manners, Mr Skinner was held in much[Pg 8] estimation among his contemporaries. Whatever he read, with the assistance of a commonplace-book, he accurately remembered, and could readily turn to account; and, though his library was contained in a closet of five feet square, he was abundantly well informed on every ordinary topic of conversation. He was fond of controversial discussion, and wielded both argument and wit with a power alarming to every antagonist. Though keen in debate, he was however possessed of a most imperturbable suavity of temper. His conversation was of a playful cast, interspersed with anecdote, and free from every affectation of learning. As a clergyman, Mr Skinner enjoyed the esteem and veneration of his flock. Besides efficiently discharging his ministerial duties, he practised gratuitously as a physician, having qualified himself, by acquiring a competent acquaintance with the healing art at the medical classes in Marischal College. His pulpit duties were widely acceptable; but his discourses, though edifying and instructive, were more the result of the promptitude of the preacher than the effects of a painstaking preparation. He abandoned the aid of the manuscript in the pulpit, on account of the untoward occurrence of his notes being scattered by a startled fowl, in the early part of his ministry, while he was addressing his people from the door of his house, after the wanton destruction of his chapel.
In a scene less calculated to invite poetic inspiration no votary of the muse had ever resided. On every side of his lonely dwelling extended a wild uncultivated plain; nor for miles around did any other human habitation relieve the monotony of this cheerless solitude. In her gayest moods, Nature never wore a pleasing aspect in Long-gate, nor did the distant prospect compensate for[Pg 9] the dreary gloominess of the surrounding landscape. For his poetic suggestions Mr Skinner was wholly dependent on the singular activity of his fancy; as he derived his chief happiness in his communings with an attached flock, and in the endearing intercourse of his family. Of his children, who were somewhat numerous he contrived to afford the whole, both sons and daughters, a superior education; and he had the satisfaction, for a long period of years, to address one of his sons as the bishop of his diocese.
The death of Mr Skinner's wife, in the year 1799, fifty-eight years after their marriage, was the most severe trial which he seems to have experienced. In a Latin elegy, he gave expression to the deep sense which he entertained of his bereavement. In 1807, his son, Bishop Skinner, having sustained a similar bereavement, invited his aged father to share the comforts of his house; and after ministering at Longside for the remarkably lengthened incumbency of sixty-five years, Mr Skinner removed to Aberdeen. But a greater change was at hand; on the 16th of June 1807, in less than a week after his arrival, he was suddenly seized with illness, and almost immediately expired. His remains were interred in the churchyard of Longside; and the flock to which he had so long ministered placed over the grave a handsome monument, bearing, on a marble tablet, an elegant tribute to the remembrance of his virtues and learning. At the residence of Bishop Skinner, he had seen his descendants in the fourth generation.
Of Mr Skinner's songs, printed in this collection, the most popular are "Tullochgorum," "John o' Badenyon," and "The Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn." The whole are pervaded by sprightliness and good-humoured[Pg 10] pleasantry. Though possessing the fault of being somewhat too lengthy, no song-compositions of any modern writer in Scottish verse have, with the exception of those of Burns, maintained a stronger hold of the Scottish heart, or been more commonly sung in the social circle.[Pg 11]
Tune—"Tibbie Fowler i' the Glen."
Tune—"A Cobbler there was," &c.
Tune—"Miss Ross's Reel."
Tune—"Broom of the Cowdenknows."
William Cameron, minister of Kirknewton, in the county of Edinburgh, was educated in Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he was a pupil of Dr Beattie, "who ever after entertained for him much esteem." A letter, addressed to him by this eminent professor, in 1774, has been published by Sir William Forbes; and his name is introduced at the beginning of Dr Beattie's "Letter to the Rev. Hugh Blair, D.D., on the Improvement of Psalmody in Scotland. 1778, 8vo:"—"The message you lately sent me, by my friend Mr Cameron, has determined me to give you my thoughts at some length upon the subject of it."
He died in his manse, on the 17th of November 1811, in the 60th year of his age, and the 26th year of his ministry. He was a considerable writer of verses, and his compositions are generally of a respectable order. He was the author of a "Collection of Poems," printed at Edinburgh in 1790, in a duodecimo volume; and in 1781, along with the celebrated John Logan and Dr Morrison, minister of Canisbay, he contributed towards the formation of a collection of Paraphrases from Scripture, which, being approved of by the Ge[Pg 36]neral Assembly, are still used in public worship in the Church of Scotland. A posthumous volume of verses by Mr Cameron, entitled "Poems on Several Occasions," was published by subscription in 1813—8vo, pp. 132. The following song, which was composed by Mr Cameron, on the restoration of the forfeited estates by Act of Parliament, in 1784, is copied from Johnson's "Musical Museum." It affords a very favourable specimen of the author's poetical talents.[Pg 37]
Tune—"As I came in by Auchindoun."
Anne Home was born in the year 1742. She was the eldest daughter of Robert Home, of Greenlaw, in Berwickshire, surgeon of Burgoyne's Regiment of Light Horse, and afterwards physician in Savoy. By contracting an early marriage, in which affection overcame more prudential considerations, both her parents gave offence to their relations, who refused to render them pecuniary assistance. Her father, though connected with many families of rank, and himself the son of a landowner, was consequently obliged to depend, in the early part of his career, on his professional exertions for the support of his family. His circumstances appear subsequently to have been more favourable. In July 1771, Miss Home became the wife of John Hunter, the distinguished anatomist, to whom she bore two children. She afforded evidence of her early poetical talent, by composing, before she had completed her twenty-third year, the song beginning, "Adieu! ye streams that smoothly glide." This appeared in the Lark, an Edinburgh periodical, in the year 1765. In 1802, she published a collection of her poems, in an octavo volume, which she inscribed to her son, John Banks Hunter.
During the lifetime of her distinguished husband,[Pg 40] Mrs Hunter was in the habit of receiving at her table, and sharing in the conversation of, the chief literary persons of her time. Her evening conversazioni were frequented by many of the more learned, as well as fashionable persons in the metropolis. On the death of her husband, which took place in 1793, she sought greater privacy, though she still continued to reside in London. By those who were admitted to her intimacy, she was not more respected for her superior talents and intelligence, than held in esteem for her unaffected simplicity of manners. She was the life of her social parties, sustaining the happiness of the hour by her elegant conversation, and encouraging the diffident by her approbation. Amiable in disposition, she was possessed of a beautiful countenance and a handsome person. She wrote verses with facility, but she sought no distinction as a poet, preferring to be regarded as a good housewife and an agreeable member of society. In her latter years, she obtained amusement in resuming the song-writing habits of her youth, and in corresponding with her more intimate friends. She likewise derived pleasure in the cultivation of music: she played with skill, and sung with singular grace.
Mrs Hunter died at London, on the 7th January 1821, after a lingering illness. Several of her lyrics had for some years appeared in the collections of national poetry. Those selected for the present work have long maintained a wide popularity. The songs evince a delicacy of thought, combined with a force and sweetness of expression.[Pg 41]
Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon, was born in the year 1743, and died on the 17th of January 1827, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. Chiefly remembered as a kind patron of the poet Burns, his name is likewise entitled to a place in the national minstrelsy as the author of an excellent version of the often-parodied song, "Cauld Kail in Aberdeen." Of this song, the first words, written to an older tune, appeared in the second volume of Herd's "Collection," in 1776. These begin—
The song is anonymous, as is the version, first published in Dale's "Scottish Songs," beginning—
A third version, distinct from that inserted in the text, was composed by William Reid, a bookseller in Glasgow, who died in 1831. His song is scarcely known.[Pg 47] The Duke's song, with which Burns expressed himself as being "charmed," was first published in the second volume of Johnson's "Musical Museum." It is not only gay and animating, but has the merit of being free of blemishes in want of refinement, which affect the others. The "Bogie" celebrated in the song, it may be remarked, is a river in Aberdeenshire, which, rising in the parish of Auchindoir, discharges its waters into the Deveron, a little distance below the town of Huntly. It gives its name to the extensive and rich valley of Strathbogie, through which it proceeds.[Pg 48]
Mrs Grant of Carron, the reputed author of one song, which has long maintained a favoured place, was a native of Aberlour, on the banks of the Spey, in the county of Banff. She was born about the year 1745, and was twice married—first, to her cousin, Mr Grant of Carron, near Elchies, on the river Spey, about the year 1763; and, secondly, to Dr Murray, a physician in Bath. She died at Bath about the year 1814.
In his correspondence with George Thomson, Burns, alluding to the song of Mrs Grant, "Roy's Wife," remarks that he had in his possession "the original words of a song for the air in the handwriting of the lady who composed it," which, he adds, "are superior to any edition of the song which the public has seen." He subsequently composed an additional version himself, beginning, "Canst thou leave me thus, my Katie?" but this, like others of the bard's conversions of Scottish songs into an English dress, did not become popular. The verses by his female friend, in which the lady is made to be the sufferer by misplaced affection, and commencing, "Stay, my Willie, yet believe me," though published, remain likewise in obscurity. "Roy's Wife" was originally written to an old tune called the "Ruf[Pg 51]fian's Rant," but this melody is now known by the name of its favourite words. The sentiment of the song is peculiarly pleasing. The rejected lover begins by loudly complaining of his wrongs, and the broken assurances of his former sweetheart: then he suddenly recalls what were her good qualities; and the recollection of these causes him to forgive her marrying another, and even still to extend towards her his warmest sympathies.[Pg 52]
Dr Couper was born in the parish of Sorbie, in Wigtonshire, on the 22d of September 1750. His father rented the farm of Balsier in that parish. With a view towards the ministry in the Scottish Church, he proceeded to the University of Glasgow in 1769; but being deprived of both his parents by death before the completion of the ordinary period of academical study, and his pecuniary means being limited, he quitted the country for America, where he became tutor to a family in Virginia. He now contemplated taking orders in the Episcopal Church, but on the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1776 he returned to Britain without fulfilling this intention. He resumed his studies at Glasgow preparatory to his seeking a surgeon's diploma; and he afterwards established himself as a medical practitioner in Newton-Stewart, a considerable village in his native county. From this place he removed to Fochabers, about the year 1788, on being recommended, by his friend Dr Hamilton, Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow, as physician to the Duke of Gordon. Before entering on this new sphere of practice, he took the degree of M.D. At Fochabers he remained till the year 1806, when he again returned to the south. He died at[Pg 54] Wigton on the 18th January 1818. From a MS. Life of Dr Couper, in the possession of a gentleman in Wigton, and communicated to Dr Murray, author of "The Literary History of Galloway," these leading events of Dr Couper's life were first published by Mr Laing, in his "Additional Illustrations to the Scots Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 513.
Dr Couper published "Poetry, chiefly in the Scottish Language" (Inverness, 1804), 2 vols. 12mo. Among some rubbish, and much tawdry versification, there is occasional power, which, however, is insufficient to compensate for the general inferiority. There are only a few songs, but these are superior to the poems; and those following are not unworthy of a place among the modern national minstrelsy.[Pg 55]
Tune—"The Mucking o' Geordie's Byre."
Lady Anne Lindsay was the eldest of a family of eight sons and three daughters, born to James, Earl of Balcarres, by his spouse, Anne Dalrymple, a daughter of Sir Robert Dalrymple, of Castleton, Bart. She was born at Balcarres, in Fife, on the 8th of December 1750. Inheriting a large portion of the shrewdness long possessed by the old family of Lindsay, and a share of talent from her mother, who was a person of singular energy, though somewhat capricious in temper, Lady Anne evinced, at an early age, an uncommon amount of sagacity. Fortunate in having her talents well directed, and naturally inclined towards the acquisition of learning, she soon began to devote herself to useful reading, and even to literary composition. The highly popular ballad of "Auld Robin Gray" was written when she had only attained her twenty-first year. According to her own narrative, communicated to Sir Walter Scott, she had experienced loneliness on the marriage of her younger sister, who accompanied her husband to London, and had sought relief from a state of solitude by attempting the composition of song. An old Scottish[Pg 59] melody, sung by an eccentric female, an attendant on Lady Balcarres, was connected with words unsuitable to the plaintive nature of the air; and, with the design of supplying the defect, she formed the idea of writing "Auld Robin Gray." The hero of the ballad was the old herdsman at Balcarres. To the members of her own family Lady Anne only communicated her new ballad—scrupulously concealing the fact of her authorship from others, "perceiving the shyness it created in those who could write nothing."
While still in the bloom of youth, the Earl of Balcarres died, and the Dowager Countess having taken up her residence in Edinburgh, Lady Anne experienced increased means of acquainting herself with the world of letters. At her mother's residence she met many of the literary persons of consideration in the northern metropolis, including such men as Lord Monboddo, David Hume, and Henry Mackenzie. To comfort her sister, Lady Margaret Fordyce, who was now a widow, she subsequently removed to London, where she formed the acquaintance of the principal personages then occupying the literary and political arena, such as Burke, Sheridan, Dundas, and Windham. She also became known to the Prince of Wales, who continued to entertain for her the highest respect. In 1793, she married Andrew Barnard, Esq., son of the Bishop of Limerick, and afterwards secretary, under Lord Macartney, to the colony at the Cape of Good Hope. She accompanied her husband to the Cape, and had meditated a voyage to New South Wales, that she might minister, by her[Pg 60] benevolent counsels, towards the reformation of the convicts there exiled. On the death of her husband in 1807, she again resided with her widowed sister, the Lady Margaret, till the year 1812, when, on the marriage of her sister to Sir James Burges, she occupied a house of her own, and continued to reside in Berkeley Square till the period of her death, which took place on the 6th of May 1825.
To entire rectitude of principle, amiability of manners, and kindliness of heart, Anne Barnard added the more substantial, and, in females, the more uncommon quality of eminent devotedness to intellectual labour. Literature had been her favourite pursuit from childhood, and even in advanced life, when her residence was the constant resort of her numerous relatives, she contrived to find leisure for occasional literary réunions, while her forenoons were universally occupied in mental improvement. She maintained a correspondence with several of her brilliant contemporaries, and, in her more advanced years, composed an interesting narrative of family Memoirs. She was skilled in the use of the pencil, and sketched scenery with effect. In conversation she was acknowledged to excel; and her stories and anecdotes were a source of delight to her friends. She was devotedly pious, and singularly benevolent: she was liberal in sentiment, charitable to the indigent, and sparing of the feelings of others. Every circle was charmed by her presence; by her condescension she inspired the diffident; and she banished dulness by the brilliancy of her humour. Her countenance, it should[Pg 61] be added, wore a pleasant and animated expression, and her figure was modelled with the utmost elegance of symmetry and grace. Her sister, Lady Margaret Fordyce, was eminently beautiful.
The popularity obtained by the ballad of "Auld Robin Gray" has seldom been exceeded in the history of any other metrical composition. It was sung in every fashionable circle, as well as by the ballad-singers, from Land's-end to John o' Groat's; was printed in every collection of national songs, and drew tears from our military countrymen both in America and India. With the exception of Pinkerton, every writer on Scottish poetry and song has awarded it a tribute of commendation. "The elegant and accomplished authoress," says Ritson, "has, in this beautiful production, to all that tenderness and simplicity for which the Scottish song has been so much celebrated, united a delicacy of expression which it never before attained." "'Auld Robin Gray,'" says Sir Walter Scott, "is that real pastoral which is worth all the dialogues which Corydon and Phillis have had together, from the days of Theocritus downwards."
During a long lifetime, till within two years of her death, Lady Anne Barnard resisted every temptation to declare herself the author of the popular ballad, thus evincing her determination not to have the secret wrested from her till she chose to divulge it. Some of those inducements may be enumerated. The extreme popularity of the ballad might have proved sufficient in itself to justify the disclosure; but, apart from this consideration, a very fine tune had been put to it by a doctor of music; a romance had been founded upon it by a man[Pg 62] of eminence; it was made the subject of a play, of an opera, and of a pantomime; it had been claimed by others; a sequel had been written to it by some scribbler, who professed to have composed the whole ballad; it had been assigned an antiquity far beyond the author's time; the Society of Antiquaries had made it the subject of investigation; and the author had been advertised for in the public prints, a reward being offered for the discovery. Never before had such general interest been exhibited respecting any composition in Scottish verse.
In the "Pirate," published in 1823, the author of "Waverley" had compared the condition of Minna to that of Jeanie Gray, in the words of Lady Anne, in a sequel which she had published to the original ballad:—
At length, in her seventy-third year, and upwards of half a century after the period of its composition, the author voluntarily made avowal of the authorship of the ballad and its sequel. She wrote to Sir Walter Scott, with whom she was acquainted, requesting him to inform his personal friend, the author of "Waverley," that she was indeed the author. She enclosed a copy to Sir Walter, written in her own hand; and, with her consent, in the course of the following year, he printed "Auld Robin Gray" as a contribution to the Bannatyne Club.
The second part has not acquired such decided popularity, and it has not often been published with it in former Collections. Of the fact of its inequality, the accomplished author was fully aware: she wrote it[Pg 63] simply to gratify the desire of her venerable mother, who often wished to know how "the unlucky business of Jeanie and Jamie ended." The Countess, it may be remarked, was much gratified by the popularity of the ballad; and though she seems, out of respect to her daughter's feelings, to have retained the secret, she could not resist the frequent repetition of it to her friends.
In the character of Lady Anne Barnard, the defective point was a certain want of decision, which not only led to her declining many distinguished and advantageous offers for her hand, but tended, in some measure, to deprive her of posthumous fame. Illustrative of the latter fact, it has been recorded that, having entrusted to Sir Walter Scott a volume of lyrics, composed by herself and by others of the noble house of Lindsay, with permission to give it to the world, she withdrew her consent after the compositions had been printed in a quarto volume, and were just on the eve of being published. The copies of the work, which was entitled "Lays of the Lindsays," appear to have been destroyed. One lyric only has been recovered, beginning, "Why tarries my love?" It is printed as the composition of Lady Anne Barnard, in a note appended to the latest edition of Johnson's "Musical Museum," by Mr C. K. Sharpe, who transcribed it from the Scots Magazine for May 1805. The popular song, "Logie o' Buchan," sometimes attributed to Lady Anne in the Collections, did not proceed from her pen, but was composed by George Halket, parochial schoolmaster of Rathen, in Aberdeenshire, about the middle of the last century.[Pg 64]
In an earlier continuation of the original ballad, there are some good stanzas, which, however, the author had thought proper to expunge from the piece in its altered and extended form. One verse, descriptive of Robin Gray's feelings, on observing the concealed and withering grief of his spouse, is beautiful for its simplicity:—
John Tait was, in early life, devoted to the composition of poetry. In Ruddiman's Edinburgh Weekly Magazine for 1770, he repeatedly published verses in the Poet's Corner, with his initials attached, and in subsequent years he published anonymously the "Cave of Morar," "Poetical Legends," and other poems. "The Vanity of Human Wishes, an Elegy, occasioned by the Untimely Death of a Scots Poet," appears under the signature of J. Tait, in "Poems on Various Subjects by Robert Fergusson, Part II.," Edinburgh, 1779, 12mo. He was admitted as a Writer to the Signet on the 21st of November 1781; and in July 1805 was appointed Judge of Police, on a new police system being introduced into Edinburgh. In the latter capacity he continued to officiate till July 1812, when a new Act of Parliament entrusted the settlement of police cases, as formerly, to the magistrates of the city. Mr Tait died at his house in Abercromby Place, on the 29th of August 1817.
"The Banks of the Dee," the only popular production from the pen of the author, was composed in the year 1775, on the occasion of a friend leaving Scotland to join the British forces in America, who were then[Pg 71] vainly endeavouring to suppress that opposition to the control of the mother country which resulted in the permanent establishment of American independence. The song is set to the Irish air of "Langolee." It was printed in Wilson's Collection of Songs, which was published at Edinburgh in 1779, with four additional stanzas by a Miss Betsy B——s, of inferior merit. It was re-published in "The Goldfinch" (Edinburgh, 1782), and afterwards was inserted in Johnson's "Musical Museum." Burns, in his letter to Mr George Thomson, of 7th April 1793, writes—"'The Banks of the Dee' is, you know, literally 'Langolee' to slow time. The song is well enough, but has some false imagery in it; for instance—
In the first place, the nightingale sings in a low bush, but never from a tree; and, in the second place, there never was a nightingale seen or heard on the banks of the Dee, or on the banks of any other river in Scotland. Creative rural imagery is always comparatively flat."
Thirty years after its first appearance, Mr Tait published a new edition of the song in Mr Thomson's Collection, vol. iv., in which he has, by alterations on the first half stanza, acknowledged the justice of the strictures of the Ayrshire bard. The stanza is altered thus:
The song, it may be added, has in several collections been erroneously attributed to John Home, author of the tragedy of "Douglas."[Pg 72]
Hector Macneill was born on the 22d of October 1746, in the villa of Rosebank, near Roslin; and, to to use his own words, "amidst the murmur of streams and the shades of Hawthornden, may be said to have inhaled with life the atmosphere of a poet." Descended from an old family, who possessed a small estate in the southern district of Argyllshire, his father, after various changes of fortune, had obtained a company in the 42d Regiment, with which he served during several campaigns in Flanders. From continued indisposition, and consequent inability to undergo the fatigues of military life, he disposed of his commission, and retired, with his wife and two children, to the villa of Rosebank, of which he became the owner. A few years after the[Pg 74] birth of his son Hector, he felt necessitated, from straitened circumstances, to quit this beautiful residence; and he afterwards occupied a farm on the banks of Loch Lomond. Such a region of the picturesque was highly suitable for the development of those poetical talents which had already appeared in young Hector, amidst the rural amenities of Roslin. In his eleventh year, he wrote a drama, after the manner of Gay; and the respectable execution of his juvenile attempts in versification gained him the approbation of Dr Doig, the learned rector of the grammar-school of Stirling, who strongly urged his father to afford him sufficient instruction, to enable him to enter upon one of the liberal professions. Had Captain Macneill's circumstances been prosperous, this counsel might have been adopted, for the son's promising talents were not unnoticed by his father; but pecuniary difficulties opposed an unsurmountable obstacle.
An opulent relative, a West India trader, resident in Bristol, had paid the captain a visit; and, attracted by the shrewdness of the son Hector, who was his namesake, offered to retain him in his employment, and to provide for him in life. After two years' preparatory education, he was accordingly sent to Bristol, in his fourteenth year. He was destined to an adventurous career, singularly at variance with his early predilections and pursuits. By his relative he was designed to sail in a slave ship to the coast of Guinea; but the intercession of some female friends prevented his being connected with an expedition so uncongenial to his feelings. He was now despatched on board a vessel to the island of St Christopher's, with the view of his making trial of a seafaring life, but was provided with recommendatory letters, in the event of his preferring employment on[Pg 75] land. With a son of the Bristol trader he remained twelvemonths; and, having no desire to resume his labours as a seaman, he afterwards sailed for Guadaloupe, where he continued in the employment of a merchant for three years, till 1763, when the island was ceded to the French. Dismissed by his employer, with a scanty balance of salary, he had some difficulty in obtaining the means of transport to Antigua; and there, finding himself reduced to entire dependence, he was content, without any pecuniary recompense, to become assistant to his relative, who had come to the town of St John's. From this unhappy condition he was rescued, after a short interval. He was possessed of a knowledge of the French language; a qualification which, together with his general abilities, recommended him to fill the office of assistant to the Provost-Marshal of Grenada. This appointment he held for three years, when, hearing of the death of his mother and sister, he returned to Britain. On the death of his father, eighteen months after his arrival, he succeeded to a small patrimony, which he proceeded to invest in the purchase of an annuity of £80 per annum. With this limited income, he seems to have planned a permanent settlement in his native country; but the unexpected embarrassment of the party from whom he had purchased the annuity, and an attachment of an unfortunate nature, compelled him to re-embark on the ocean of adventure. He accepted the office of assistant-secretary on board Admiral Geary's flag-ship, and made two cruises with the grand fleet. Proposing again to return to Scotland, he afterwards resigned his appointment; but he was induced, by the remonstrances of his friends, Dr Currie, and Mr Roscoe, of Liverpool, to accept a similar situation on board the flag-ship of Sir Richard[Pg 76] Bickerton, who had been appointed to take the chief command of the naval power in India. In this post, many of the hardships incident to a seafaring life fell to his share; and being present at the last indecisive action with "Suffrein," he had likewise to encounter the perils of war. His present connexion subsisted three years; but Macneill sickened in the discharge of duties wholly unsuitable for him, and longed for the comforts of home. His resources were still limited, but he flattered himself in the expectation that he might earn a subsistence as a man of letters. He fixed his residence at a farm-house in the vicinity of Stirling; and, amidst the pursuits of literature, the composition of verses, and the cultivation of friendship, he contrived, for a time, to enjoy a considerable share of happiness. But he speedily discovered the delusion of supposing that an individual, entirely unknown in the literary world, could at once be able to establish his reputation, and inspire confidence in the bookselling trade, whose favour is so essential to men of letters. Discouraged in longer persevering in the attempt of procuring a livelihood at home, Macneill, for the fourth time, took his departure from Britain. Provided with letters of introduction to influential and wealthy persons in Jamaica, he sailed for that island on a voyage of adventure; being now in his thirty-eighth year, and nearly as unprovided for as when he had first left his native shores, twenty-four years before. On his arrival at Kingston, he was employed by the collector of customs, whose acquaintance he had formed on the voyage; but this official soon found he could dispense with his services, which he did, without aiding him in obtaining another situation. The individuals to whom he had brought letters were unable or unwilling to render him assistance, and the unfortu[Pg 77]nate adventurer was constrained, in his emergency, to accept the kind invitation of a medical friend, to make his quarters with him till some satisfactory employment might occur. He now discovered two intimate companions of his boyhood settled in the island, in very prosperous circumstances, and from these he received both pecuniary aid and the promise of future support. Through their friendly offices, his two sons, who had been sent out by a generous friend, were placed in situations of respectability and emolument. But the thoughts of the poet himself were directed towards Britain. He sailed from Jamaica, with a thousand plans and schemes hovering in his mind, equally vague and indefinite as had been his aims and designs during the past chapter of his history. A small sum given him as the pay of an inland ensigncy, now conferred on him, but antedated, sufficed to defray the expenses of the voyage.
Before leaving Scotland for Jamaica, Macneill had commenced a poem, founded on a Highland tradition; and to the completion of this production he assiduously devoted himself during his homeward voyage. It was published at Edinburgh in 1789, under the title of "The Harp, a Legendary Tale." In the previous year, he published a pamphlet in vindication of slavery, entitled, "On the Treatment of the Negroes in Jamaica." This pamphlet, written to gratify the wishes of an interested friend, rather than as the result of his own convictions, he subsequently endeavoured to suppress. For several years, Macneill persevered in his unsettled mode of life. On his return from Jamaica, he resided in the mansion of his friend, Mr Graham of Gartmore, himself a writer of verses, as well as a patron of letters; but a difference with the family caused him to quit this hos[Pg 78]pitable residence. After passing some time with his relatives in Argyllshire, he entertained a proposal of establishing himself in Glasgow, as partner of a mercantile house, but this was terminated by the dissolution of the firm; and a second attempt to succeed in the republic of letters had an equally unsuccessful issue. In Edinburgh, whither he had removed, he was seized with a severe nervous illness, which, during the six following years, rendered him incapable of sustained physical exertion. With a little money, which he contrived to raise on his annuity, he retired to a small cottage at St Ninians; but his finances again becoming reduced, he accepted of the hospitable invitation of his friends, Major Spark and his lady, to become the inmate of their residence of Viewforth House, Stirling. At this period, Macneill composed the greater number of his best songs, and produced his poem of "Scotland's Skaith, or the History of Will and Jean," which was published in 1795, and speedily gained him a wide reputation. Before the close of twelvemonths, it passed through no fewer than fourteen editions. A sequel, entitled "The Waes o' War," which appeared in 1796, attained nearly an equal popularity. The original ballad was composed during the author's solitary walks along the promenades of the King's Park, Stirling, while he was still suffering mental depression. It was completed in his own mind before any of the stanzas were committed to paper.
The hope of benefiting his enfeebled constitution in a warm climate induced him to revisit Jamaica. As a parting tribute to his friends at Stirling, he published, in 1799, immediately before his departure, a descriptive poem, entitled "The Links of Forth, or a Parting Peep at the Carse of Stirling," which, regarded[Pg 79] as the last effort of a dying poet, obtained a reception fully equal to its merits.
On the oft-disappointed and long unfortunate poet the sun of prosperity at length arose. On his arrival in Jamaica, one of his early friends, Mr John Graham, of Three-Mile-River, settled on him an annuity of £100 a-year; and, in a few months afterwards, they sailed together for Britain, the poet's health being essentially improved. Macneill now fixed his permanent residence in Edinburgh, and, with the proceeds of several legacies bequeathed to him, together with his annuity, was enabled to live in comparative affluence. The narrative of his early adventures and hardships is supposed to form the basis of a novel, entitled "The Memoirs of Charles Macpherson, Esq.," which proceeded from his pen in 1800. In the following year, he published a complete edition of his poetical works, in two duodecimo volumes. In 1809, he published "The Pastoral, or Lyric Muse of Scotland," in a thin quarto volume; and about the same time, anonymously, two other works in verse, entitled "Town Fashions, or Modern Manners Delineated," and "Bygone Times and Late-come Changes." His last work, "The Scottish Adventurers," a novel, appeared in 1812, in two octavo volumes.
The latter productions of Hector Macneill, both in prose and verse, tended rather to diminish than increase his fame. They exhibit the sentiments of a querulous old man, inclined to cling to the habits of his youth, and to regard any improvement as an act of ruthless innovation. As the author of some excellent songs, and one of the most popular ballads in the Scottish language, his name will continue to be remembered. His songs, "Mary of Castlecary," "My boy, Tammie," "Come[Pg 80] under my plaidie," "I lo'ed ne'er a laddie but ane," "Donald and Flora," and "Dinna think, bonnie lassie," will retain a firm hold of the popular mind. His characteristic is tenderness and pathos, combined with unity of feeling, and a simplicity always genuine and true to nature. Allan Cunningham, who forms only a humble estimate of his genius, remarks that his songs "have much softness and truth, an insinuating grace of manners, and a decorum of expression, with no small skill in the dramatic management of the stories." The ballad of "Scotland's Skaith" ranks among the happiest conceptions of the Scottish Doric muse; rural life is depicted with singular force and accuracy, and the debasing consequences of the inordinate use of ardent spirits among the peasantry, are delineated with a vigour and power, admirably adapted to suit the author's benevolent intention in the suppression of intemperance.
During his latter years, Macneill was much cherished among the fashionables of the capital. He was a tall, venerable-looking old man; and although his complexion was sallow, and his countenance somewhat austere, his agreeable and fascinating conversation, full of humour and replete with anecdote, rendered him an acceptable guest in many social circles. He displayed a lively, but not a vigorous intellect, and his literary attainments were inconsiderable. Of his own character as a man of letters, he had evidently formed a high estimate. He was prone to satire, but did not unduly indulge in it. He was especially impatient of indifferent versification; and, among his friends, rather discouraged than commended poetical composition. Though long unsettled himself, he was loud in his [Pg 81]commendations of industry; and, from the gay man of the world, he became earnest on the subject of religion. For several years, his health seems to have been unsatisfactory. In a letter to a friend, dated Edinburgh, January 30, 1813, he writes:—"Accumulating years and infirmities are beginning to operate very sensibly upon me now, and yearly do I experience their increasing influence. Both my hearing and my sight are considerably weakened, and, should I live a few years longer, I look forward to a state which, with all our love for life, is certainly not to be envied.... My pen is my chief amusement. Reading soon fatigues, and loses its zest; composition never, till over-exertion reminds me of my imprudence, by sensations which too frequently render me unpleasant during the rest of the day." On the 15th of March 1818, in his seventy-second year, the poet breathed his last, in entire composure, and full of hope.[Pg 82]
Tune—"Ye Jacobites by name."
Mrs Anne Grant, commonly styled of Laggan, to distinguish her from her contemporary, Mrs Grant of Carron, was born at Glasgow, in February 1755. Her father, Mr Duncan Macvicar, was an officer in the army, and, by her mother, she was descended from the old family of Stewart, of Invernahyle, in Argyllshire. Her early infancy was passed at Fort-William; but her father having accompanied his regiment to America, and there become a settler, in the State of New York, at a very tender age she was taken by her mother across the Atlantic, to her new home. Though her third year had not been completed when she arrived in America, she retained a distinct recollection of her landing at Charlestown. By her mother she was taught to read, and a well-informed serjeant made her acquainted with writing. Her precocity for learning was remarkable. Ere she had reached her sixth year, she had made herself familiar with the Old Testament, and could speak the Dutch language, which she had learned from a family of Dutch settlers. The love of poetry and patriotism was simultaneously evinced. At this early period, she read Milton's "Paradise Lost" with[Pg 100] attention, and even appreciation; and glowed with the enthusiastic ardour of a young heroine over the adventures of Wallace, detailed in the metrical history of Henry, the Minstrel. Her juvenile talent attracted the notice of the more intelligent settlers in the State, and gained her the friendship of the distinguished Madame Schuyler, whose virtues she afterwards depicted in her "Memoirs of an American Lady."
In 1768, along with his wife and daughter, Mr Macvicar returned to Scotland, his health having suffered by his residence in America; and, during the three following summers, his daughter found means of gratifying her love of song, on the banks of the Cart, near Glasgow. The family residence was now removed to Fort-Augustus, where Mr Macvicar had received the appointment of barrack-master. The chaplain of the fort was the Rev. James Grant, a young clergyman, related to several of the more respectable families in the district, who was afterwards appointed minister of the parish of Laggan, in Inverness-shire. At Fort-Augustus, he had recommended himself to the affections of Miss Macvicar, by his elegant tastes and accomplished manners, and he now became the successful suitor for her hand. They were married in 1779, and Mrs Grant, to approve herself a useful helpmate to her husband, began assiduously to acquaint herself with the manners and habits of the humbler classes of the people. The inquiries instituted at this period were turned to an account more extensive than originally contemplated. Mr Grant, who was constitutionally delicate, died in 1801, leaving his widow and eight surviving children without any means of support, his worldly circumstances being considerably embarrassed.
On a small farm which she had rented, in the[Pg 101] vicinity of her late husband's parish, Mrs Grant resided immediately subsequent to his decease; but the profits of the lease were evidently inadequate for the comfortable maintenance of the family. Among the circle of her friends she was known as a writer of verses; in her ninth year, she had essayed an imitation of Milton; and she had written poetry, or at least verses, on the banks of the Cart and at Fort-Augustus. To aid in supporting her family, she was strongly advised to collect her pieces into a volume; and, to encourage her in acting upon this recommendation, no fewer than three thousand subscribers were procured for the work by her friends. The celebrated Duchess of Gordon proved an especial promoter of the cause. In 1803, a volume of poems appeared from her pen, which, though displaying no high powers, was favourably received, and had the double advantage of making her known, and of materially aiding her finances. From the profits, she made settlement of her late husband's liabilities; and now perceiving a likelihood of being able to support her family by her literary exertions, she abandoned the lease of her farm. She took up her residence near the town of Stirling, residing in the mansion of Gartur, in that neighbourhood. In 1806, she again appeared before the public as an author, by publishing a selection of her correspondence with her friends, in three duodecimo volumes, under the designation of "Letters from the Mountains." This work passed through several editions. In 1808, Mrs Grant published the life of her early friend, Madame Schuyler, under the designation of "Memoirs of an American Lady," in two volumes.
From the rural retirement of Gartur, she soon removed to the town of Stirling; but in 1810, as her circum[Pg 102]stances became more prosperous, she took up her permanent abode in Edinburgh. Some distinguished literary characters of the Scottish capital now resorted to her society. She was visited by Sir Walter Scott, Francis Jeffrey, James Hogg, and others, attracted by the vivacity of her conversation. The "Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlanders of Scotland" appeared in 1811, in two volumes; in 1814, she published a metrical work, in two parts, entitled "Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen;" and, in the year following, she produced her "Popular Models and Impressive Warnings for the Sons and Daughters of Industry."
In 1825, Mrs Grant received a civil-list pension of £50 a-year, in consideration of her literary talents, which, with the profits of her works and the legacies of several deceased friends, rendered the latter period of her life sufficiently comfortable in respect of pecuniary means. She died on the 7th of November 1838, in the eighty-fourth year of her age, and retaining her faculties to the last. A collection of her correspondence was published in 1844, in three volumes octavo, edited by her only surviving son, John P. Grant, Esq.
As a writer, Mrs Grant occupies a respectable place. She had the happy art of turning her every-day observation, as well as the fruits of her research, to the best account. Her letters, which she published at the commencement of her literary career, as well as those which appeared posthumously, are favourable specimens of that species of composition. As a poet, she attained to no eminence. "The Highlanders," her longest and most ambitious poetical effort, exhibits some glowing descriptions of mountain scenery, and the stern though simple manners of the Gaël. Of a few songs which proceed from her pen, that commencing, "Oh, where,[Pg 103] tell me where?" written on the occasion of the Marquis of Huntly's departure for Holland with his regiment, in 1799, has only become generally known. It has been parodied in a song, by an unknown author, entitled "The Blue Bells of Scotland," which has obtained a wider range of popularity.[Pg 104]
Air—"Bealach na Gharraidh."
John Mayne, chiefly known as the author of "The Siller Gun," a poem descriptive of burgher habits in Scotland towards the close of the century, was born at Dumfries, on the 26th of March 1759. At the grammar school of his native town, under Dr Chapman, the learned rector, whose memory he has celebrated in the third canto of his principal poem, he had the benefit of a respectable elementary education; and having chosen the profession of a printer, he entered at an early age the printing office of the Dumfries Journal. In 1782, when his parents removed to Glasgow, to reside on a little property to which they had succeeded, he sought employment under the celebrated Messrs Foulis, in whose printing establishment he continued during the five following years. He paid a visit to London in 1785, with the view of advancing his professional interests, and two years afterwards he settled in the metropolis.
Mayne, while a mere stripling, was no unsuccessful wooer of the Muse; and in his sixteenth year he produced the germ of that poem on which his reputation chiefly depends. This production, entitled "The Siller Gun," descriptive of a sort of walkingshaw, or an an[Pg 108]cient practice which obtained in his native town, of shooting, on the king's birth-day, for a silver tube or gun, which had been presented by James VI. to the incorporated trades, as a prize to the best marksman, was printed at Dumfries in 1777, on a small quarto page. The original edition consisted of twelve stanzas; in two years it increased to two cantos; in 1780, it was printed in three cantos; in 1808, it was published in London with a fourth; and in 1836, just before his death, the author added a fifth. The latest edition was published by subscription, in an elegant duodecimo volume.
In 1780, in the pages of Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine, Mayne published a short poem on "Halloween," which suggested Burns's celebrated poem on the same subject. In 1781, he published at Glasgow his song of "Logan Braes," of which Burns afterwards composed a new version.
In London, Mayne was first employed as printer, and subsequently became joint-editor and proprietor, along with Dr Tilloch, of the Star evening newspaper. With this journal he retained a connexion till his death, which took place at London on the 14th of March 1836.
Besides the humorous and descriptive poem of "The Siller Gun," which, in the opinion of Sir Walter Scott, surpasses the efforts of Ferguson, and comes near to those of Burns, Mayne published another epic production, entitled "Glasgow," which appeared in 1803, and has passed through several editions. In the same year he published "English, Scots, and Irishmen," a chivalrous address to the population of the three kingdoms. To the literary journals, his contributions, both in prose and verse, were numerous and interesting. Many of his[Pg 109] songs and ballads enriched the columns of the journal which he so long and ably conducted. In early life, he maintained a metrical correspondence with Thomas Telford, the celebrated engineer, who was a native of the same county, and whose earliest ambition was to earn the reputation of a poet.
Possessed of entire amiability of disposition, and the utmost amenity of manners, John Mayne was warmly beloved among the circle of his friends. Himself embued with a deep sense of religion, though fond of innocent humour, he preserved in all his writings a becoming respect for sound morals, and is entitled to the commendation which a biographer has awarded him, of having never committed to paper a single line "the tendency of which was not to afford innocent amusement, or to improve and increase the happiness of mankind." He was singularly modest and even retiring. His eulogy has been pronounced by Allan Cunningham, who knew him well, that "a better or warmer-hearted man never existed." The songs, of which we have selected the more popular, abound in vigour of expression and sentiment, and are pervaded by a genuine pathos.[Pg 110]
Air—"Johnnie's Gray Breeks."
Of the personal history of John Hamilton only a few particulars can be ascertained. He carried on business for many years as a music-seller in North Bridge Street, Edinburgh, and likewise gave instructions in the art of instrumental music to private families. He had the good fortune to attract the favour of one of his fair pupils—a young lady of birth and fortune—whom he married, much to the displeasure of her relations. He fell into impaired health, and died on the 23d of September 1814, in the fifty-third year of his age. To the lovers of Scottish melody the name of Mr Hamilton is familiar, as a composer of several esteemed and beautiful airs. His contributions to the department of Scottish song entitle his name to an honourable place.[Pg 118]
Joanna Baillie was born on the 11th of September 1762, in the manse of Bothwell, in Lanarkshire. Her father, Dr James Baillie, was descended from the old family of Baillie of Lamington, and was consequently entitled to claim propinquity with the distinguished Principal Robert Baillie, and the family of Baillie of Jerviswood, so celebrated for its Christian patriotism. The mother of Joanna likewise belonged to an honourable house: she was a descendant of the Hunters of Hunterston; and her two brothers attained a wide reputation in the world of science—Dr William Hunter being an eminent physician, and Mr John Hunter the greatest anatomist of his age. Joanna—a twin, the other child being still-born—was the youngest of a family of three children. Her only brother was Dr Matthew Baillie, highly distinguished in the medical world. Agnes, her sister, who was eldest of the family, remained unmarried, and continued to live with her under the same roof.
In the year 1768, Dr Baillie was transferred from the parochial charge of Bothwell to the office of collegiate minister of Hamilton,—a town situate, like his former parish, on the banks of the Clyde. He was subse[Pg 127]quently elected Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow. After his death, which took place in 1778, his daughters both continued, along with their widowed mother, to live at Long Calderwood, in the vicinity of Hamilton, until 1784, when they all accepted an invitation to reside with Dr Matthew Baillie, who had entered on his medical career in London, and had become possessor of a house in Great Windmill Street, built by his now deceased uncle, Dr Hunter.
Though evincing no peculiar promptitude in the acquisition of learning, Joanna had, at the very outset of life, exhibited remarkable talent in rhyme-making. She composed verses before she could read, and, before she could have fancied a theatre, formed dialogues for dramatic representations, which she carried on with her companions. But she did not early seek distinction as an author. At the somewhat mature age of twenty-eight, after she had gone to London, she first published, and that anonymously, a volume of miscellaneous poems, which did not excite any particular attention. In 1798, she published, though anonymously at first, "A Series of Plays: in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger Passions of the Mind, each Passion being the subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy." In a lengthened preliminary dissertation, she discoursed regarding the drama in all its relations, maintaining the ascendency of simple nature over every species of adornment and decoration. "Let one simple trait of the human heart, one expression of passion, genuine and true to nature," she wrote, "be introduced, and it will stand forth alone in the boldness of reality, whilst the false and unnatural around it fades away upon every side, like the rising exhalations of the morning." The reception of these plays was sufficient to satisfy the[Pg 128] utmost ambition of the author, and established the foundation of her fame. "Nothing to compare with them had been produced since the great days of the English drama; and the truth, vigour, variety, and dignity of the dramatic portraits, in which they abound, might well justify an enthusiasm which a reader of the present day can scarcely be expected to feel. This enthusiasm was all the greater, when it became known that these remarkable works, which had been originally published anonymously, were from the pen of a woman still young, who had passed her life in domestic seclusion." Encouraged by the success of the first volume of her dramas on the "Passions," the author added a second in 1802, and a third in 1812. During the interval, she published a volume of miscellaneous dramas in 1804, and produced the "Family Legend" in 1810,—a tragedy, founded upon a Highland tradition. With a prologue by Sir Walter Scott, and an epilogue by Henry Mackenzie, the "Family Legend" was produced at the Edinburgh theatre, under the auspices of the former illustrious character; and was ably supported by Mrs Siddons, and by Terry, then at the commencement of his career. It was favourably received during ten successive performances. "You have only to imagine all that you could wish to give success to a play," wrote Sir Walter Scott to the author, "and your conceptions will still fall short of the complete and decided triumph of the 'Family Legend.' The house was crowded to a most extraordinary degree; many people had come from your native capital of the west; everything that pretended to distinction, whether from rank or literature, was in the boxes; and in the pit, such an aggregate mass of humanity as I have seldom, if ever, witnessed[Pg 129] in the same space." Other two of her plays, "Count Basil" and "De Montfort," brought out in London, the latter being sustained by Kemble and Siddons, likewise received a large measure of general approbation; but a want of variety of incident prevented their retaining a position on the stage. In 1836, she produced three additional volumes of dramas; her career as a dramatic writer thus extending over the period of nearly forty years.
Subsequent to her leaving Scotland, in 1784, Joanna Baillie did not return to her native kingdom, unless on occasional visits. On the marriage of her brother to a sister of the Lord Chief-Justice Denman, in 1791, she passed some years at Colchester; but she subsequently fixed her permanent habitation at Hampstead. Her mother died in 1806. At Hampstead, in the companionship of her only sister, whose virtues she has celebrated in one of her poems, and amidst the society of many of the more distinguished literary characters of the metropolis, she continued to enjoy a large amount of comfort and happiness. Her pecuniary means were sufficiently abundant, and rendered her entirely independent of the profits of her writings. Among her literary friends, one of the most valued was Sir Walter Scott, who, being introduced to her personal acquaintance on his visit to London in 1806, maintained with her an affectionate and lasting intimacy. The letters addressed to her are amongst the most interesting of his correspondence in his Memoir by his son-in-law. He evinced his estimation of her genius by frequently complimenting her in his works. In his "Epistle to William Erskine," which forms the introduction to the third canto of "Marmion," he thus generously eulogises his gifted friend:[Pg 130]—
To Joanna, Scott inscribed his fragmental drama of "Macduff's Cross," which was included in a Miscellany published by her in 1823.
Though a penury of incident, and a defectiveness of skill in sustaining an increasing interest to the close, will probably prevent any of her numerous plays from being renewed on the stage, Joanna Baillie is well entitled to the place assigned her as one of the first of modern dramatists. In all her plays there are passages and scenes surpassed by no contemporaneous dramatic writer. Her works are a magazine of eloquent thoughts and glowing descriptions. She is a mistress of the emotions, and
The tragedies of "Count Basil" and "De Montfort" are her best plays, and are well termed by Sir Walter Scott a revival of the great Bard of Avon. Forcible and energetic in style, her strain never becomes turgid or diverges into commonplace. She is masculine, but graceful; and powerful without any ostentation of[Pg 131] strength. Her personal history was the counterpart of her writings. Gentle in manners and affable in conversation, she was a model of the household virtues, and would have attracted consideration as a woman by her amenities, though she had possessed no reputation in the world of letters. She was eminently religious and benevolent. Her countenance bore indication of a superior intellect and deep penetration. Though her society was much cherished by her contemporaries, including distinguished foreigners who visited the metropolis, her life was spent in general retirement. She was averse to public demonstration, and seemed scarcely conscious of her power. She died at Hampstead, on the 23d of February 1851, at the very advanced age of eighty-nine, and a few weeks after the publication of her whole Works in a collected form.
The songs of Joanna Baillie immediately obtained an honourable place in the minstrelsy of her native kingdom. They are the simple and graceful effusions of a heart passionately influenced by the melodies of the "land of the heath and the thistle," and animated by those warm affections so peculiarly nurtured in the region of "the mountain and the flood." "Fy, let us a' to the wedding," "Saw ye Johnnie comin'?" "It fell on a morning when we were thrang," and "Woo'd, and married, and a'," maintain popularity among all classes of Scotsmen throughout the world. Several of the songs were written for Thomson's "Melodies," and "The Harp of Caledonia," a collection of songs published at Glasgow in 1821, in three vols. 12mo, under the editorial care of John Struthers, author of "The Poor Man's Sabbath." The greater number are included in the present work.[Pg 132]
Though the author of a single popular song, William Dudgeon is entitled to a place among the modern contributors to the Caledonian minstrelsy. Of his personal history, only a very few facts have been recovered. He was the son of a farmer in East-Lothian, and himself rented an extensive farm at Preston, in Berwickshire. During his border tour in May 1787, the poet Burns met him at Berrywell, the residence of the father of his friend Mr Robert Ainslie, who acted as land-steward on the estate of Lord Douglas in the Merse. In his journal, Burns has thus recorded his impression of the meeting:—"A Mr Dudgeon, a poet at times, a worthy, remarkable character, natural penetration, a great deal of information, some genius, and extreme modesty." Dudgeon died in October 1813, about his sixtieth year.[Pg 152]
William Reid was born at Glasgow on the 10th of April 1764. His father, a baker by trade, was enabled to give him a good education at the school of his native city. At an early age he was apprenticed to Messrs Dunlop and Wilson, booksellers; and in the year 1790, along with another enterprising individual, he commenced a bookselling establishment, under the firm of "Brash and Reid." In this business, both partners became eminently successful, their shop being frequented by the literati of the West. The poet Burns cultivated the society of Mr Reid, who proved a warm friend, as he was an ardent admirer, of the Ayrshire bard. He was an enthusiastic patron of literature, was fond of social humour, and a zealous promoter of the interests of Scottish song. Between 1795 and 1798, the firm published in numbers, at one penny each, "Poetry, Original and Selected," which extended to four volumes. To this publication, both Mr Reid, and his partner, Mr Brash, made some original contributions. The work is now very scarce, and is accounted valuable by collectors. Mr Reid died at Glasgow, on the 29th of November 1831, leaving a widow and a family.[Pg 154]
Tune—"Ye Banks and Braes o' bonnie Doon."
A miscellaneous writer, a poet, and a musical composer, Alexander Campbell first saw the light at Tombea, on the banks of Loch Lubnaig, in Perthshire. He was born in 1764, and received such education as his parents could afford him, which was not very ample, at the parish school of Callander. An early taste for music induced him to proceed to Edinburgh, there to cultivate a systematic acquaintance with the art. Acquiring a knowledge of the science under the celebrated Tenducci and others, he became himself a teacher of the harpsichord and of vocal music, in the metropolis. As an upholder of Jacobitism, when it was scarcely to be dreaded as a political offence, he officiated as organist in a non-juring chapel in the vicinity of Nicolson Street; and while so employed had the good fortune to form the acquaintance of Burns, who was pleased to discover in an individual entertaining similar state sentiments with himself, an enthusiastic devotion to national melody and song.
Mr Campbell was twice married; his second wife was the widow of a Highland gentleman, and he was induced to hope that his condition might thus be permanently improved. He therefore relinquished his original[Pg 162] vocation, and commenced the study of physic, with the view of obtaining an appointment as surgeon in the public service; but his sanguine hopes proved abortive, and, to complete his mortification, his wife left him in Edinburgh, and sought a retreat in the Highlands. He again procured some employment as a teacher of music; and about the year 1810, one of his expedients was to give lessons in drawing. He was a man of a fervent spirit, and possessed of talents, which, if they had been adequately cultivated, and more concentrated, might have enabled him to attain considerable distinction; but, apparently aiming at the reputation of universal genius, he alternately cultivated the study of music, poetry, painting, and physic. At a more recent period, Sir Walter Scott found him occasional employment in transcribing manuscripts; and during the unhappy remainder of his life he had to struggle with many difficulties.
One of his publications bears the title of "Odes and Miscellaneous Poems, by a Student of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1790, 4to. These lucubrations, which attracted no share of public attention, were followed by "The Guinea Note, a Poem, by Timothy Twig, Esquire," Edinburgh, 1797, 4to. His next work is entitled, "An Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland, with Illustrations by David Allan," Edinburgh, 1798, 4to. This work, though written in a rambling style, contains a small proportion of useful materials very unskilfully digested. "A Dialogue on Scottish Music," prefixed, had the merit of conveying to Continental musicians for the first time a correct acquaintance with the Scottish scale, the author receiving the commendations of the greatest Italian and German composers. The work likewise contains "Songs of the[Pg 163] Lowlands," a selection of some of the more interesting specimens of the older minstrelsy. In 1802 he published "A Tour from Edinburgh through various parts of North Britain," in two volumes quarto, illustrated with engravings from sketches executed by himself. This work met with a favourable reception, and has been regarded as the most successful of his literary efforts. In 1804 he sought distinction as a poet by giving to the world "The Grampians Desolate," a long poem, in one volume octavo. In this production he essays "to call the attention of good men, wherever dispersed throughout our island, to the manifold and great evils arising from the introduction of that system which has within these last forty years spread among the Grampians and Western Isles, and is the leading cause of a depopulation that threatens to extirpate the ancient race of the inhabitants of those districts." That system to which Mr Campbell refers, he afterwards explains to be the monopoly of sheep-stores, a subject scarcely poetical, but which he has contrived to clothe with considerable smoothness of versification. The last work which issued from Mr Campbell's pen was "Albyn's Anthology, a Select Collection of the Melodies and Vocal Poetry Peculiar to Scotland and the Isles, hitherto Unpublished." The publication appeared in 1816, in two parts, of elegant folio. It was adorned by the contributions of Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg, and other poets of reputation. The preface contains "An Epitome of the History of Scottish Poetry and Music from the Earliest Times." His musical talents have a stronger claim to remembrance than either his powers as a poet or his skill as a writer. Yet his industry was unremitted, and his researches have proved serviceable to other writers who have followed him on the same themes. Only a few[Pg 164] lyrical pieces proceeded from his pen; these were first published in "Albyn's Anthology." From this work we have extracted two specimens.
Mr Campbell died of apoplexy on the 15th of May 1824, after a life much chequered by misfortune. He left various MSS. on subjects connected with his favourite studies, which have fortunately found their way into the possession of Mr Laing, to whom the history of Scottish poetry is perhaps more indebted than to any other living writer. The poems in this collection, though bearing marks of sufficient elaboration, could not be recommended for publication. Mr Campbell was understood to be a contributor to The Ghost, a forgotten periodical, which ran a short career in the year 1790. It was published in Edinburgh twice a week, and reached the forty-sixth number; the first having appeared on the 25th of April, the last on the 16th of November. He published an edition of a book, curious in its way—Donald Mackintosh's "Collection of Gaelic Proverbs, and Familiar Phrases; Englished anew!" Edinburgh, 1819, 12mo. The preface contains a characteristic account of the compiler, who described himself as "a priest of the old Scots Episcopal Church, and last of the non-jurant clergy in Scotland."[Pg 165]
Helen D'Arcy Cranstoun, the second wife of the celebrated Professor Stewart, is entitled to a more ample notice in a work on Modern Scottish Song than the limited materials at our command enable us to supply. She was the third daughter of the Hon. George Cranstoun, youngest son of William, fifth Lord Cranstoun. She was born in the year 1765, and became the wife of Professor Dugald Stewart on the 26th July 1790. Having survived her husband ten years, she died at Warriston House, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, on the 28th of July 1838. She was the sister of the Countess Purgstall (the subject of Captain Basil Hall's "Schloss Hainfeld"), and of George Cranstoun, a senator of the College of Justice, by the title of Lord Corehouse.
The following pieces from the pen of the accomplished author are replete with simple beauty and exquisite tenderness.[Pg 168]
Tune—"Ianthe the Lovely."
The author of the celebrated "American Ornithology" is entitled to an honourable commemoration as one of the minstrels of his native land. Alexander Wilson was born at Paisley on the 6th of July 1766. His father had for some time carried on a small trade as a distiller; but the son was destined by his parents for the clerical profession, in the National Church—a scheme which was frustrated by the death of his mother in his tenth year, leaving a large family of children to the sole care of his father. He had, however, considerably profited by the instruction already received at school; and having derived from his mother a taste for music and a relish for books, he invoked the muse in solitude, and improved his mind by miscellaneous reading. His father contracted a second marriage when Alexander had reached his thirteenth year; and it became necessary that he should prepare himself for entering upon some handicraft employment. He became an apprentice to his brother-in-law, William Duncan, a weaver in his native town; and on completing his indenture, he wrought as a journeyman, during the three following years, in the towns of Paisley, Lochwinnoch, and Queensferry. But the occupation of weaving, which had from the first been[Pg 173] unsuitable to his tastes, growing altogether irksome, he determined to relinquish it for a vocation which, if in some respects scarcely more desirable, afforded him ample means of gratifying his natural desire of becoming familiar with the topography of his native country. He provided himself with a pack, as a pedlar, and in this capacity, in company with his brother-in-law, continued for three years to lead a wandering life. His devotedness to verse-making had continued unabated from boyhood; he had written verses at the loom, and had become an enthusiastic votary of the muse during his peregrinations with his pack. He was now in his twenty-third year; and with the buoyancy of ardent youth, he thought of offering to the public a volume of his poems by subscription. In this attempt he was not successful; nor would any bookseller listen to proposals of publishing the lucubrations of an obscure pedlar. In 1790, he at length contrived to print his poems at Paisley, on his own account, in the hope of being able to dispose of them along with his other wares. But this attempt was not more successful than his original scheme, so that he was compelled to return to his father's house at Lochwinnoch, and resume the obnoxious shuttle. His aspirations for poetical distinction were not, however, subdued; he heard of the institution of the Forum, a debating society established in Edinburgh by some literary aspirants, and learning, in 1791, that an early subject of discussion was the comparative merits of Ramsay and Fergusson as Scottish poets, he prepared to take a share in the competition. By doubling his hours of labour at the loom, he procured the means of defraying his travelling expenses; and, arriving in time for the debate in the Forum, he repeated a poem which he had prepared, entitled the "Laurel Disputed," in[Pg 174] which he gave the preference to Fergusson. He remained several weeks in Edinburgh, and printed his poem. To Dr Anderson's "Bee" he contributed several poems, and a prose essay, entitled "The Solitary Philosopher." Finding no encouragement to settle in the metropolis, he once more returned to his father's house in the west. He now formed the acquaintance of Robert Burns, who testified his esteem for him both as a man and a poet. In 1792, he published anonymously his popular ballad of "Watty and Meg," which he had the satisfaction to find regarded as worthy of the Ayrshire Bard.
The star of the poet was now promising to be in the ascendant, but an untoward event ensued. In the ardent enthusiasm of his temperament, he was induced to espouse in verse the cause of the Paisley hand-loom operatives in a dispute with their employers, and to satirise in strong invective a person of irreproachable reputation. For this offence he was prosecuted before the sheriff, who sentenced him to be imprisoned for a few days, and publicly to burn his own poem in the front of the jail. This satire is entitled "The Shark; or, Long Mills detected." Like many other independents, he mistook anarchy in France for the dawn of liberty in Europe; and his sentiments becoming known, he was so vigilantly watched by the authorities, that he found it was no longer expedient for him to reside in Scotland. He resolved to emigrate to America; and, contriving by four months' extra labour, and living on a shilling weekly, to earn his passage-money, he sailed from Portpatrick to Belfast, and from thence to Newcastle, in the State of Delaware, where he arrived on the 14th July 1794. During the voyage he had slept on deck, and when he landed, his finances consisted only of[Pg 175] a few shillings; yet, with a cheerful heart, he walked to Philadelphia, a distance of thirty-three miles, with only his fowling-piece on his shoulder. He shot a red-headed woodpecker by the way,—an omen of his future pursuits, for hitherto he had devoted no attention to the study of ornithology.
He was first employed by a copperplate-printer in Philadelphia, but quitted this occupation for the loom, at which he worked about a year in Philadelphia, and at Shepherdstown, in Virginia. In 1795, he traversed a large portion of the State of New Jersey as a pedlar, keeping a journal,—a practice which he had followed during his wandering life in Scotland. He now adopted the profession of a schoolmaster, and was successively employed in this vocation at Frankford, in Pennsylvania, at Milestown, and at Bloomfield, in New Jersey. In preparing himself for the instruction of others, he essentially extended his own acquaintance with classical learning, and mathematical science; and by occasional employment as a land-surveyor, he somewhat improved his finances. In 1801, he accepted the appointment of teacher in a seminary in Kingsessing, on the river Schuylkill, about four miles from Philadelphia,—a situation which, though attended with limited emolument, proved the first step in his path to eminence. He was within a short distance of the residence of William Bartram, the great American naturalist, with whom he became intimately acquainted; he also formed the friendship of Alexander Lawson, an emigrant engraver, who initiated him in the art of etching, colouring, and engraving. Discovering an aptitude in the accurate delineation of birds, he was led to the study of ornithology; with which he became so much interested, that he projected a work descriptive, with drawings, of all the birds[Pg 176] of the Middle States, and even of the Union. About this period he became a contributor to the "Literary Magazine," conducted by Mr Brockden Brown, and to Denny's "Portfolio."
Along with a nephew and another friend, Wilson made a pedestrian tour to the Falls of Niagara, in October 1804, and on his return published in the "Portfolio" a poetical narrative of his journey, entitled "The Foresters,"—a production surpassing his previous efforts, and containing some sublime apostrophes. But his energies were now chiefly devoted to the accomplishment of the grand design he had contemplated. Disappointed in obtaining the co-operation of his friend Mr Lawson, who was alarmed at the extent of his projected adventure, and likewise frustrated in obtaining pecuniary assistance from the President Jefferson, on which he had some reason to calculate, he persevered in his attempts himself, drawing, etching, and colouring the requisite illustrations. In 1806, he was employed as assistant-editor of a new edition of Rees' Cyclopedia, by Mr Samuel Bradford, bookseller in Philadelphia, who rewarded his services with a liberal salary, and undertook, at his own risk, the publication of his "Ornithology." The first volume of the work appeared in September 1808, and immediately after its publication the author personally visited, in the course of two different expeditions, the Eastern and Southern States, in quest of subscribers. These journeys were attended with a success scarcely adequate to the privations which were experienced in their prosecution; but the "Ornithology" otherwise obtained a wide circulation, and, excelling in point of illustration every production that had yet appeared in America, gained for the author universal commendation. In January 1810, his second volume appeared, and in a[Pg 177] month after he proceeded to Pittsburg, and from thence, in a small skiff, made a solitary voyage down the Ohio, a distance of nearly six hundred miles. During this lonely and venturous journey he experienced relaxation in the composition of a poem, which afterwards appeared under the title of "The Pilgrim." In 1813, after encountering numerous hardships and perils, which an enthusiast only could have endured, he completed the publication of the seventh volume of his great work. But the sedulous attention requisite in the preparation of the plates of the eighth volume, and the effect of a severe cold, caught in rashly throwing himself into a river to swim in pursuit of a rare bird, brought on him a fatal dysentery, which carried him off, on the 23d of August 1813, in his forty-eighth year. He was interred in the cemetery of the Swedish church, Southwark, Philadelphia, where a plain marble monument has been erected to his memory. A ninth volume was added to the "Ornithology" by Mr George Ord, an intimate friend of the deceased naturalist; and three supplementary volumes have been published, in folio, by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, uncle of the present Emperor of the French.
Amidst his extraordinary deserts as a naturalist, the merits of Alexander Wilson as a poet have been somewhat overlooked. His poetry, it may be remarked, though unambitious of ornament, is bold and vigorous in style, and, when devoted to satire, is keen and vehement. The ballad of "Watty and Meg," though exception may be taken to the moral, is an admirable picture of human nature, and one of the most graphic narratives of the "taming of a shrew" in the language. Allan Cunningham writes: "It has been excelled by none in lively, graphic fidelity of touch: whatever was present to his eye and manifest to his ear, he could[Pg 178] paint with a life and a humour which Burns seems alone to excel." In private life, Wilson was a model of benevolence and of the social virtues; he was devoid of selfishness, active in beneficence, and incapable of resentment. Before his departure for America, he waited on every one whom he conceived he had offended by his juvenile escapades, and begged their forgiveness; and he did not hesitate to reprove Burns for the levity too apparent in some of his poems. To his aged father, who survived till the year 1816, he sent remittances of money as often as he could afford; and at much inconvenience and pecuniary sacrifice, he established the family of his brother-in-law on a farm in the States. He was sober even to abstinence; and was guided in all his transactions by correct Christian principles. In person, he was remarkably handsome; his countenance was intelligent, and his eye sparkling. He never attained riches, but few Scotsmen have left more splendid memorials of their indomitable perseverance.[Pg 179]
Carolina Oliphant was born in the old mansion of Gask, in the county of Perth, on the 16th of July 1766. She was the third daughter and fifth child of Laurence Oliphant of Gask, who had espoused his cousin Margaret Robertson, a daughter of Duncan Robertson of Struan, and his wife a daughter of the fourth Lord Nairn. The Oliphants of Gask were cadets of the formerly noble house of Oliphant; whose ancestor, Sir William Oliphant of Aberdalgie, a puissant knight, acquired distinction in the beginning of the fourteenth century by defending the Castle of Stirling against a formidable siege by the first Edward. The family of Gask were devoted Jacobites; the paternal grandfather of Carolina Oliphant had attended Prince Charles Edward as aid-de-camp during his disastrous campaign of 1745-6, and his spouse had indicated her sympathy in his cause by cutting out a lock of his hair on the occasion of his accepting the hospitality of the family mansion. The portion of hair is preserved at Gask; and Carolina Oliphant, in her song, "The Auld House," has thus celebrated the gentle deed of her progenitor:—
The estate of Gask escaped forfeiture, but the father of Carolina did not renounce the Jacobite sentiments of his ancestors. He named the subject of this memoir Carolina, in honour of Prince Charles Edward; and his prevailing topic of conversation was the reiterated expression of his hope that "the king would get his ain." He would not permit the names of the reigning monarch and his queen to be mentioned in his presence; and when impaired eyesight compelled him to seek the assistance of his family in reading the newspapers, he angrily reproved the reader if the "German lairdie and his leddy" were designated otherwise than by the initial letters, "K. and Q." This extreme Jacobitism at a period when the crime was scarcely to be dreaded, was reported to George III., who is related to have confessed his respect for a man who had so consistently maintained his political sentiments.
In her youth, Carolina Oliphant was singularly beautiful, and was known in her native district by the poetical designation of "The Flower of Strathearn." She was as remarkable for the precocity of her intellect, as she was celebrated for the elegance of her person. Descended by her mother from a family which, in one instance, at least, had afforded some evidence of poetical talents, and possessed of a correct musical ear, she very early composed verses for her favourite melodies. To the development of her native genius, her juvenile condition abundantly contributed: the locality of her[Pg 186] birthplace, rich in landscape scenery, and associated with family traditions and legends of curious and chivalric adventure, might have been sufficient to promote, in a mind less fertile than her own, sentiments of poesy. In the application of her talents she was influenced by another incentive. A loose ribaldry tainted the songs and ballads which circulated among the peasantry, and she was convinced that the diffusion of a more wholesome minstrelsy would essentially elevate the moral tone of the community. Thus, while still young, she commenced to purify the older melodies, and to compose new songs, which were ultimately destined to occupy an ample share of the national heart. The occasion of an agricultural dinner in the neighbourhood afforded her a fitting opportunity of making trial of her success in the good work which she had begun. To the president of the meeting she sent, anonymously, her verses entitled "The Ploughman;" and the production being publicly read, was received with warm approbation, and was speedily put to music. She was thus encouraged to proceed in her self-imposed task; and to this early period of her life may be ascribed some of her best lyrics. "The Laird o' Cockpen," and "The Land o' the Leal," at the close of the century, were sung in every district of the kingdom.
Carolina Oliphant had many suitors for her hand: she gave a preference to William Murray Nairn, her maternal cousin, who had been Baron Nairn, barring the attainder of the title on account of the Jacobitism of the last Baron. The marriage was celebrated in June 1806. At this period, Mr Nairn was Assistant Inspector-General of Barracks in Scotland, and held the rank of major in the army. By Act of Parliament, on the 17th June 1824, the attainder of[Pg 187] the family was removed, the title of Baron being conferred on Major Nairn. This measure is reported to have been passed on the strong recommendation of George IV.; his Majesty having learned, during his state visit to Scotland in 1822, that the song of "The Attainted Scottish Nobles" was the composition of Lady Nairn. The song is certainly one of the best apologies for Jacobitism.
On the 9th of July 1830, Lady Nairn was bereaved of her husband, to whom she had proved an affectionate wife. Her care had for several years been assiduously bestowed on the proper rearing of her only child William, who, being born in 1808, had reached his twenty-second year when he succeeded to the title on the death of his father. This young nobleman warmly reciprocated his mother's affectionate devotedness; and, making her the associate of his manhood, proved a source of much comfort to her in her bereavement. In 1837, he resolved, in her society, to visit the Continent, in the hope of being recruited by change of climate from an attack of influenza caught in the spring of that year. But the change did not avail; he was seized with a violent cold at Brussels, which, after an illness of six weeks, proved fatal. He died in that city on the 7th of December 1837. Deprived both of her husband and her only child, a young nobleman of so much promise, and of singular Christian worth, Lady Nairn, though submitting to the mysterious dispensations with becoming resignation, did not regain her wonted buoyancy of spirit. Old age was rapidly approaching,—those years in which the words of the inspired sage, "I have no pleasure in them," are too frequently called forth by the pressure of human infirmities. But this amiable lady did not sink[Pg 188] under the load of affliction and of years: she mourned in hope, and wept in faith. While the afflictions which had mingled with her cup of blessings tended to prevent her lingering too intently on the past, the remembrance of a life devoted to deeds of piety and virtue was a solace greater than any other earthly object could impart, leading her to hail the future with sentiments of joyful anticipation. During the last years of her life, unfettered by worldly ties, she devoted all her energies to the service of Heaven, and to the advancement of Christian truth. Her beautiful ode, "Would you be young again?" was composed in 1842, and enclosed in a letter to a friend; it is signally expressive of the pious resignation and Christian hope of the author.
After the important era of her marriage, she seems to have relinquished her literary ardour. But in the year 1821, Mr Robert Purdie, an enterprising music-seller in Edinburgh, having resolved to publish a series of the more approved national songs, made application to several ladies celebrated for their musical skill, with the view of obtaining their assistance in the arrangement of the melodies. To these ladies was known the secret of Lady Nairn's devotedness to Scottish song, enjoying as they did her literary correspondence and private intimacy; and in consenting to aid the publisher in his undertaking, they calculated on contributions from their accomplished friend. They had formed a correct estimate: Lady Nairn, whose extreme diffidence had hitherto proved a barrier to the fulfilment of the best wishes of her heart, in effecting the reformation of[Pg 189] the national minstrelsy, consented to transmit pieces for insertion, on the express condition that her name and rank, and every circumstance connected with her history, should be kept in profound secrecy. The condition was carefully observed; so that, although the publication of "The Scottish Minstrel" extended over three years, and she had several personal interviews and much correspondence with the publisher and his editor, Mr R. A. Smith, both these individuals remained ignorant of her real name. She had assumed the signature, "B. B.," in her correspondence with Mr Purdie, who appears to have been entertained by the discovery, communicated in confidence, that the name of his contributor was "Mrs Bogan of Bogan;" and by this designation he subsequently addressed her. The nom de guerre of the two B.'s is attached to the greater number of Lady Nairn's contributions in "The Scottish Minstrel."
The new collection of minstrelsy, unexceptionable as it was in the words attached to all the airs, commanded a wide circulation, and excited general attention. The original contributions were especially commended, and some of them were forthwith sung by professed vocalists in the principal towns. Much speculation arose respecting the authorship, and various conjectures were supported, each with plausible arguments, by the public journalists. In these circumstances, Lady Nairn expe[Pg 190]rienced painful alarm, lest, by any inadvertence on the part of her friends, the origin of her songs should be traced. While the publication of the "Minstrel" was proceeding, her correspondents received repeated injunctions to adopt every caution in preserving her incognita; she was even desirous that her sex might not be made known. "I beg the publisher will make no mention of a lady," she wrote to one of her correspondents, "as you observe, the more mystery the better, and still the balance is in favour of the lords of creation. I cannot help, in some degree, undervaluing beforehand what is said to be a feminine production." "The Scottish Minstrel" was completed in 1824, in six royal octavo volumes, forming one of the best collections of the Scottish melodies. It was in the full belief that "Mrs Bogan" was her real name, that the following compliment was paid to Lady Nairn by Messrs Purdie and R. A. Smith, in the advertisement to the last volume of the work:—"In particular, the editors would have felt happy in being permitted to enumerate the many original and beautiful verses that adorn their pages, for which they are indebted to the author of the much-admired song, 'The Land o' the Leal;' but they fear to wound a delicacy which shrinks from all observation."
Subsequent to the appearance of "The Scottish Minstrel," Lady Nairn did not publish any lyrics; and she was eminently successful in preserving her incognita. No critic ventured to identify her as the celebrated "B. B.," and it was only whispered among a few that she had composed "The Land o' the Leal." The mention of her name publicly as the author of this beautiful ode, on one occasion, had signally disconcerted her. While she was resident in Paris, in 1842, she writes to an intimate friend in Edinburgh on this subject:—"A[Pg 191] Scottish lady here, Lady——, with whom I never met in Scotland, is so good as, among perfect strangers, to denounce me as the origin of 'The Land o' the Leal!' I cannot trace it, but very much dislike as ever any kind of publicity." The extreme diffidence and shrinking modesty of the amiable author continued to the close of her life; she never divulged, beyond a small circle of confidential friends, the authorship of a single verse. The songs published in her youth had been given to others; but, as in the case of Lady Anne Barnard, these assignments caused her no uneasiness. She experienced much gratification in finding her simple minstrelsy supplanting the coarse and demoralising rhymes of a former period; and this mental satisfaction she preferred to fame.
The philanthropic efforts of Lady Nairn were not limited to the purification of the national minstrelsy; her benevolence extended towards the support of every institution likely to promote the temporal comforts, or advance the spiritual interests of her countrymen. Her contributions to the public charities were ample, and she
In an address delivered at Edinburgh, on the 29th of December 1845, Dr Chalmers, referring to the exertions which had been made for the supply of religious instruction in the district of the West Port of Edinburgh, made the following remarks regarding Lady Nairn, who was then recently deceased:—"Let me speak now as to the countenance we have received. I am now at liberty to mention a very noble benefaction which I received about a year ago. Inquiry was made at me by a lady, mentioning that she had a sum at her disposal, and that she wished to apply it to charitable purposes; and she[Pg 192] wanted me to enumerate a list of charitable objects, in proportion to the estimate I had of their value. Accordingly, I furnished her with a scale of about five or six charitable objects. The highest in the scale were those institutions which had for their design the Christianising of the people at home; and I also mentioned to her, in connexion with the Christianising at home, what we were doing at the West Port; and there came to me from her, in the course of a day or two, no less a sum than £300. She is now dead; she is now in her grave, and her works do follow her. When she gave me this noble benefaction, she laid me under strict injunctions of secrecy, and, accordingly, I did not mention her name to any person; but after she was dead, I begged of her nearest heir that I might be allowed to proclaim it, because I thought that her example, so worthy to be followed, might influence others in imitating her; and I am happy to say that I am now at liberty to state that it was Lady Nairn of Perthshire. It enabled us, at the expense of £330, to purchase sites for schools, and a church; and we have got a site in the very heart of the locality, with a very considerable extent of ground for a washing-green, a washing-house, and a play-ground for the children, so that we are a good step in advance towards the completion of our parochial economy."
After the death of her son, and till within two years of her own death, Lady Nairn resided chiefly on the Continent, and frequently in Paris. Her health had for several years been considerably impaired, and latterly she had recourse to a wheeled chair. In the mansion of Gask, on the 27th of October 1845, she gently sunk into her rest, at the advanced age of seventy-nine years.
Some years subsequent to this event, it occurred to the relatives and literary friends of the deceased Baroness that[Pg 193] as there could no longer be any reason for retaining her incognita, full justice should be done to her memory by the publication of a collected edition of her works. This scheme was partially executed in an elegant folio, entitled "Lays from Strathearn: by Carolina, Baroness Nairn. Arranged with Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Pianoforte, by Finlay Dun." It bears the imprint of London, and has no date. In this work, of which a new edition will speedily be published by Messrs Paterson, music-sellers, Edinburgh, are contained seventy songs, but the larger proportion of the author's lyrics still remain in MS. From her representatives we have received permission to select her best lyrics for the present work, and to insert several pieces hitherto unpublished. Of the lays which we have selected, several are new versions to old airs; the majority, though unknown as the compositions of Lady Nairn, are already familiar in the drawing-room and the cottage. For winning simplicity, graceful expression, and exquisite pathos, her compositions are especially remarkable; but when her muse prompts to humour, the laugh is sprightly and overpowering.
In society, Lady Nairn was reserved and unassuming. Her countenance, naturally beautiful, wore, in her mature years, a somewhat pensive cast; and the characteristic by which she was known consisted in her enthusiastic love of music. It may be added, that she was fond of the fine arts, and was skilled in the use of the pencil.[Pg 194]
Air—"The Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre."
Air—"I'll never leave thee."
Air—"Landlady count the lawin'."
Air—"Lochiel's awa' to France."
Air—"Loch Erroch Side."
Air—"The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow."
Gaelic Air—"Mo Leannan Falnich."
Air—"Here 's a health to ane I lo'e weel."
James Nicol, the son of Michael Nicol and Marion Hope, was born at Innerleithen, in the county of Peebles, on the 28th of September 1769. Having acquired the elements of classical knowledge under Mr Tate, the parochial schoolmaster, he was sent to the University of Edinburgh, where he pursued study with unflinching assiduity and success. On completing his academical studies, he was licensed as a probationer by the Presbytery of Peebles. His first professional employment was as an assistant to the minister of Traquair, a parish bordering on that of Innerleithen; and on the death of the incumbent, Mr Nicol succeeded to the living. On the 4th of November 1802, he was ordained to the ministerial office; and on the 25th of the same month and year, he espoused Agnes Walker, a native of Glasgow, and the sister of his immediate predecessor, who had for a considerable period possessed a warm place in his affections, and been the heroine of his poetical reveries. He had for some time been in the habit of communicating verses to the Edinburgh Magazine; and he afterwards published a collection of "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect," Edinburgh, 1805, 2 vols. 12mo. This publication, which was well received, contains some lyrical effusions that entitle the author to a respectable rank among the modern cultivators of national poetry; yet it is to be regretted that a deep admiration of Burns has led him into an imitation, somewhat servile, of that immortal bard.[Pg 241]
At Traquair Mr Nicol continued to devote himself to mental improvement. He read extensively; and writing upon the subject of his studies was his daily habit. He was never robust, being affected with a chronic disorder of the stomach; and when sickness prevented him, as occasionally happened, from writing in a sitting posture, he would for hours together have devoted himself to composition in a standing position. Of his prose writings, which were numerous, the greater number still remain in MS., in the possession of his elder son. During his lifetime, he contributed a number of articles to the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, among which are "Baptism," "Baptistry," "Baptists," "Bithynia," and "Cranmer." His posthumous work, "An Essay on the Nature and Design of Scripture Sacrifices," was published in an octavo volume in the year 1823.
Mr Nicol was much respected for his sound discernment in matters of business, as well as for his benevolent disposition. Every dispute in the vicinity was submitted to his adjudication, and his counsel checked all differences in the district. He was regularly consulted as a physician, for he had studied medicine at the University. From his own medicine chest he dispensed gratuitously to the indigent sick; and without fee he vaccinated all the children of the neighbourhood who were brought to him. After a short illness, he died on the 5th of November 1819. Of a family of three sons and three daughters, the eldest son predeceased him; two sons and two daughters still survive. The elder son, who bears his father's Christian name, is Professor of Civil and Natural History in Marischal College, Aberdeen, and is well known as a geologist. Mrs Nicol survived her husband till the 19th of March 1845.[Pg 242]
James Montgomery, the spiritual character of whose writings has gained him the honourable designation of the Christian Poet, was born at Irvine, in the county of Ayr, on the 4th of November 1771. His father, John Montgomery, was a missionary of the Moravian Brethren, and in this capacity came to Irvine from Ireland, only a few days before the birth of James, his eldest son. In his fourth year he returned to Ireland with his parents, and received the rudiments of his education from the village schoolmaster of Grace Hill, a settlement of the Moravian Brethren in the county of Antrim. In October 1777, in his seventh year, he was placed by his father in the seminary of the Moravian settlement of Fulneck, near Leeds; and on the departure of his parents to the West Indies, in 1783, he was committed to the care of the Brethren, with the view of his being trained for their Church. He was not destined to see his parents again. His mother died at Barbadoes, in November 1790, and his father after an interval of eight months.
In consequence of his indolent habits, which were incorrigible, young Montgomery was removed from the seminary at Fulneck, and placed in the shop of a baker at Mirfield, in the vicinity. He was then in his sixteenth year; and having already afforded evidence[Pg 248] of a refined taste, both in poetry and music, though careless of the ordinary routine of scholastic instruction, his new occupation was altogether uncongenial to his feelings. He, however, remained about eighteen months in the baker's service, but at length made a hasty escape from Mirfield, with only three shillings and sixpence in his pocket, and seemingly without any scheme except that of relieving himself from an irksome employment. But an accidental circumstance speedily enabled him to obtain an engagement with a shopkeeper in Wath, now a station on the railway between London and Leeds; and in procuring this employment, he was indebted to the recommendation of his former master, whose service he had unceremoniously quitted. But this new situation had few advantages over the old, and he relinquished it in about a year to try his fortune in the metropolis. He had previously sent a manuscript volume of poetry to Harrison, the bookseller of Paternoster Row, who, while declining to publish it, commended the author's talents, and so far promoted his views as now to receive him into his establishment. But Montgomery's aspirations had no reference to serving behind a counter; he only accepted a place in the bookseller's establishment that he might have an opportunity of leisurely feeling his way as an author. His literary efforts, however, still proved fruitless. He composed essays and tales, and wrote a romance in the manner of Fielding, but none of his productions could find a publisher. Mortified by his failures, he quitted London in eight months, and returned to the shop of his former employer at Wath. After the interval of another year, he proceeded to Sheffield, to occupy a situation under Mr Joseph Gales, a bookseller, and the proprietor of the Register newspaper.[Pg 249]
Montgomery was now in his twenty-first year, and fortune at length began, though with many lowering intervals, to smile upon his youthful aspirations. Though he occupied a subordinate post in Mr Gales' establishment, his literary services were accepted for the Register, in which he published many of his earlier compositions, both in prose and verse. This journal had advocated sentiments of an ultra-liberal order, and commanding a wide circulation and a powerful influence among the operatives in Sheffield, had been narrowly inspected by the authorities. At length the proprietor fell into the snare of sympathising in the transactions of the French revolutionists; he was prosecuted for sedition, and deemed himself only safe from compulsory exile by a voluntary exit to America. This event took place about two years after Montgomery's first connexion with Sheffield, and he had now reverted to his former condition of abject dependence unless for a fortunate occurrence. This was no less than his being appointed joint-proprietor and editor of the newspaper by a wealthy individual, who, noticing the abilities of the young shopman, purchased the copyright with the view of placing the management entirely in his hands.
The first number of the newspaper under the poet's care, the name being changed to that of The Sheffield Iris, appeared in July 1794; and though the principles of the journal were moderate and conciliatory in comparison with the democratic sentiments espoused by the former publisher, the jealous eye of the authorities rested on its new conductor. He did not escape their vigilance; for the simple offence of printing for a ballad-vender some verses of a song celebrating the fall of the Bastile, he was libelled as "a wicked, malicious, seditious, and evil-disposed person;" and being tried before[Pg 250] the Doncaster Quarter Sessions, in January 1795, was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in the Castle of York. He was condemned to a second imprisonment of six months in the autumn of the same year, for inserting in his paper an account of a riot in the place, in which he was considered to have cast aspersions on a colonel of volunteers. The calm mind of the poet did not sink under these persecutions, and some of his best lyrics were composed during the period of his latter confinement. During his first detention he wrote a series of interesting essays for his newspaper. His "Prison Amusements," a series of beautiful pieces, appeared in 1797. In 1805, he published his poem, "The Ocean;" in 1806, "The Wanderer in Switzerland;" in 1808, "The West Indies;" and in 1812, "The World before the Flood." In 1819 he published "Greenland, a Poem, in Five Cantos;" and in 1825 appeared "The Pelican Island, and other Poems." Of all those productions, "The Wanderer in Switzerland" attained the widest circulation; and, notwithstanding an unfavourable and injudicious criticism in the Edinburgh Review, at once procured an honourable place for the author among his contemporaries. He became sole proprietor of the Iris in one year after his being connected with it, and he continued to conduct this paper till September 1825, when he retired from public duty. He subsequently contributed articles for different periodicals; but he chiefly devoted himself to the moral and religious improvement of his fellow-townsmen. A pension of £150 on the civil list was conferred upon him as an acknowledgment of his services in behalf of literature and of philanthropy; a well-merited public boon which for many years he was spared to enjoy. He died at his residence, The Mount, Sheffield, on the 30th of April[Pg 251] 1854, in the eighty-second year of his age. He bequeathed handsome legacies to various public charities. His Poetical Works, in a collected form, were published in 1850 by the Messrs Longman, in one octavo volume; and in 1853 he gave to the world his last work, being "Original Hymns, for Public, Private, and Social Devotion." Copious memoirs of his life are now in the course of publication.
As a poet, Montgomery is conspicuous for the smoothness of his versification, and for the fervent piety pervading all his compositions. As a man, he was gentle and conciliatory, and was remarkable as a generous promoter of benevolent institutions. The general tendency of his poems was thus indicated by himself, in the course of an address which he made at a public dinner, given him at Sheffield, in November 1825, immediately after the toast of his health being proposed by the chairman, Lord Viscount Milton, now Earl Fitzwilliam:—
"I sang of war—but it was the war of freedom, in which death was preferred to chains. I sang the abolition of the slave trade, that most glorious decree of the British Legislature at any period since the Revolution, by the first Parliament in which you, my Lord, sat as the representative of Yorkshire. Oh, how should I rejoice to sing the abolition of slavery itself by some Parliament of which your Lordship shall yet be a member! This greater act of righteous legislation is surely not too remote to be expected even in our own day. Renouncing the slave trade was only 'ceasing to do evil;' extinguishing slavery will be 'learning to do well.' Again, I sang of love—the love of country, the love of my own country; for,
I sang, likewise, the love of home—its charities, endearments and relationships—all that makes 'Home sweet Home,' the recol[Pg 252]lection of which, when the air of that name was just now played from yonder gallery, warmed every heart throughout this room into quicker pulsations. I sang the love which man ought to bear towards his brother, of every kindred, and country, and clime upon earth. I sang the love of virtue, which elevates man to his true standard under heaven. I sang, too, the love of God, who is love. Nor did I sing in vain. I found readers and listeners, especially among the young, the fair, and the devout; and as youth, beauty, and piety will not soon cease out of the land, I may expect to be remembered through another generation at least, if I leave anything behind me worthy of remembrance. I may add that, from every part of the British empire, from every quarter of the world where our language is spoken—from America, the East and West Indies, from New Holland, and the South Sea Islands themselves—I have received testimonies of approbation from all ranks and degrees of readers, hailing what I had done, and cheering me forward. I allude not to criticisms and eulogiums from the press, but to voluntary communications from unknown correspondents, coming to me like voices out of darkness, and giving intimation of that which the ear of a poet is always hearkening onward to catch—the voice of posterity."
IMITATED FROM THE FRENCH.
Andrew Scott, known as the author of the popular ballad of "Symon and Janet," has claims to a wider reputation. He was born of humble parentage, in the parish of Bowden, Roxburghshire, in the year 1757. He was early employed as a cowherd; and he has recorded, in a sketch of his own life prefixed to one of his volumes, that he began to compose verses on the hill-sides in his twelfth year. He ascribes this juvenile predilection to the perusal of Ramsay's "Gentle Shepherd," a pamphlet copy of which he had purchased with some spare halfpence. Towards the close of the American war, he joined the army as a recruit, and soon thereafter followed his regiment across the Atlantic. His rhyming propensities continued; and he occupied his leisure hours in composing verses, which he read for the amusement of his comrades. At the conclusion of the American campaigns, he returned with the army to Britain; and afterwards procuring his discharge, he made a settlement in his native parish. For the period of seventeen years, according to his own narrative, he abandoned the cultivation of poetry, assiduously applying himself to manual labour for the support of his family. An intelligent acquaintance, who had procured[Pg 261] copies of some of his verses, now recommended him to attempt a publication—a counsel which induced him to print a small volume by subscription. This appeared in 1805, and was reprinted, with several additions, in 1808. In 1811 he published "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect," Kelso, 18mo; another duodecimo volume of poems, at Jedburgh, in 1821; and his last work, entitled "Poems on Various Subjects," at Edinburgh, in 1826. This last volume was inscribed, with permission, to the Duchess of Roxburghe.
The poet's social condition at Bowden was little favourable to the composition of poetry. Situated on the south side of the Eildon hills, the parish is entirely separated from the busy world, and the inhabitants were formerly proverbial for their rustic simplicity and ignorance. The encouragement desiderated at home, the poet, however, experienced elsewhere. He visited Melrose, at the easy distance of two miles, on the day of the weekly market, and there met with friends and patrons from different parts of the district. The late Duke of Roxburghe, Sir Walter Scott, Mr Baillie of Jerviswoode, Mr John Gibson Lockhart, and Mr G. P. R. James, the novelist, who sometimes resided in the neighbourhood, and other persons of rank or literary eminence, extended towards him countenance and assistance.
Scott shared the indigent lot of poets. He remained in the condition of an agricultural labourer, and for many years held the office of beadle, or church-officer, of the parish. He died on the 22d of May 1839, in the eighty-second year of his age; and his remains were interred in the churchyard of Bowden, where his name is inscribed on a gravestone which he had erected to the memory of his wife. His eldest son holds the office of schoolmaster of that parish.[Pg 262]
The personal appearance of the bard appears to have been prepossessing: his countenance wore a highly intellectual aspect. Subsequent to the publication of the first volume of his poems, he was requested to sit for his portrait by the late Mr George Watson, the well-known portrait-painter; and who was so well satisfied with the excellence of his subject, that he exhibited the portrait for a lengthened period in his studio. It is now in the possession of the author's son at Bowden, and has been pronounced a masterpiece of art. A badly executed engraving from it is prefixed to Scott's last two volumes. In manner, the poet was modest and unassuming, and his utterance was slow and defective. The songs selected for this work may be regarded as the most favourable specimens of his muse.[Pg 263]
Air—"The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow."
Air—"Fy, let us a' to the Bridal."
Air—"Braw Lads of Gala Water."
Air—"Far frae Hame," &c.
Sir Walter Scott, the most chivalrous of Scottish poets, and the most illustrious of British novelists, was born in Edinburgh, on the 15th of August 1771. His father, Walter Scott, Writer to the Signet, was descended from a younger branch of the baronial house of the Scotts of Harden, of which Lord Polwarth is the present representative. On his mother's side his progenitors were likewise highly respectable: his maternal grandfather, Dr John Rutherford, was Professor of the Practice of Physic in the University of Edinburgh, and his mother's brother, Dr Daniel Rutherford, an eminent chemist, afterwards occupied the chair of Botany. His mother was a person of a vigorous and cultivated mind. Of a family of twelve children, born to his parents, six of whom survived infancy, Walter only evinced the possession of the uncommon attribute of genius. He was born a healthy child, but soon after became exposed to serious peril by being some time tended by a consumptive nurse. When scarcely two years old he was seized with an illness which deprived him of the proper use of his right limb, a loss which continued during his life. With the view of retrieving his strength, he was sent to reside with his paternal grandfather, Robert[Pg 276] Scott, who rented the farm of Sandyknowe, in the vicinity of Smailholm Tower, in Roxburghshire. Shortly after his arrival at Sandyknowe, he narrowly escaped destruction through the frantic desperation of a maniac attendant; but he had afterwards to congratulate himself on being enabled to form an early acquaintance with rural scenes. No advantage accruing to his lameness, he was, in his fourth year, removed to Bath, where he remained twelve months, without experiencing benefit from the mineral waters. During the three following years he chiefly resided at Sandyknowe. In his eighth year he returned to Edinburgh, with his mind largely stored with border legends, chiefly derived from the recitations of his grandmother, a person of a romantic inclination and sprightly intelligence. At this period, Pope's translation of Homer, and the more amusing songs in Ramsay's "Evergreen," were his favourite studies; and he took delight in reading aloud, with suitable emphasis, the more striking passages, or verses, to his mother, who sought every incentive to stimulate his native propensity. In 1778 he was sent to the High School, where he possessed the advantage of instruction under Mr Luke Fraser, an able scholar, and Dr Adam, the distinguished rector. His progress in scholarship was not equal to his talents; he was already a devotee to romance, and experienced greater gratification in retiring with a friend to some quiet spot in the country, to relate or to listen to a fictitious tale, than in giving his principal attention to the prescribed tasks of the schoolroom. As he became older, the love of miscellaneous literature, especially the works of the great masters of fiction, amounted to a passion; and as his memory was singularly tenacious, he accumulated a great extent and variety of miscellaneous information.[Pg 277]
On the completion of his attendance at the High School, he was sent to reside with some relations at Kelso; and in this interesting locality his growing attachment to the national minstrelsy and legendary lore received a fresh impulse. On his return to Edinburgh he entered the University, in which he matriculated as a student of Latin and Greek, in October 1793. His progress was not more marked than it had been at the High School, insomuch that Mr Dalziel, the professor of Greek, was induced to give public expression as to his hopeless incapacity. The professor fortunately survived to make ample compensation for the rashness of his prediction.
The juvenile inclinations of the future poet were entirely directed to a military life; but his continued lameness interposed an insuperable difficulty, and was a source of deep mortification. He was at length induced to adopt a profession suitable to his physical capabilities, entering into indentures with his father in his fourteenth year. To his confinement at the desk, sufficiently irksome to a youth of his aspirations, he was chiefly reconciled by the consideration that his fees as a clerk enabled him to purchase books.
Rapid growth in a constitution which continued delicate till he had attained his fifteenth year, led to his bursting a blood-vessel in the second year of his apprenticeship. While precluded from active duty, being closely confined to bed, and not allowed to exert himself by speaking, he was still allowed to read; a privilege which accelerated his acquaintance with general literature. To complete his recovery, he was recommended exercise on horseback; and in obeying the instructions of his physician, he gratified his own peculiar tastes by making himself generally familiar with locali[Pg 278]ties and scenes famous in Scottish story. On the restoration of his health, he at length became seriously engaged in the study of law for several continuous years, and, after the requisite examinations, was admitted as an advocate, on the 10th of July 1792, when on the point of attaining his twenty-first year.
In his twelfth year, Scott had composed some verses for his preceptor and early friend Dr Adam, which afforded promise of his future excellence. But he seems not to have extensively indulged, in early life, in the composition of poetry, while his juvenile productions in prose wore a stiff formality. On being called to the bar, he at first carefully refrained, according to his own statement, from claiming the honour of authorship, lest his brethren or the public should suppose that his habits were unsuitable to a due attention to the duties of his profession. He was relieved of dependence on professional employment by espousing, in December 1797, Miss Carpenter, a young French gentlewoman, possessed of a considerable annuity, whose acquaintance he had formed at Gilsland, a watering-place in Cumberland. In 1800 he was appointed Sheriff of Selkirkshire, with a salary of £300 a year. While he continued in his father's office he had made himself familiar with the French and Italian languages, and had read many of their more celebrated authors, especially the writings of Tasso and Ariosto. Some years after he came to the bar, he was induced to acquaint himself with the ballad poetry of Germany, then in vogue, through the translations of Mr Lewis, whose friendship he had recently acquired. In 1796 he made his first adventure as an author by publishing translations of "Lenoré," and "The Wild Huntsman" of Bürger. The attempt proved unsuccessful; but, undismayed, he again essayed his skill[Pg 279] in translation by publishing, in 1799, an English version of Goëthe's "Goetz of Berlichingen." His success as an author was, however, destined to rest on original performances, illustrative of the chivalry of his own land.
Towards the recovery and publication of the ancient ballads and songs of the Scottish borders, which had only been preserved by the recitations of the peasantry, Scott had early formed important intentions. The independence of his circumstances now enabled him to execute his long-cherished scheme. He made periodical excursions into Liddesdale, a wild pastoral district on the Scottish border, anciently peopled by the noted Elliots and Armstrongs, in quest of old ballads and traditions; and the fruits of his research, along with much curious information, partly communicated to him by intelligent correspondents, he gave to the world, in 1802, in two volumes octavo, under the title of "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border." He added in the following year a third volume, consisting of imitations of ancient ballads, composed by himself and others. These volumes issued from the printing-press of his early friend and school-fellow, Mr James Ballantyne of Kelso, who had already begun to indicate that skill in typography for which he was afterwards so justly celebrated. In 1804 he published, from the Auchinleck Manuscript in the Advocates' Library, the ancient metrical tale of "Sir Tristrem;" and, in an elaborate introduction, he endeavoured to prove that it was the composition of Thomas of Ercildoune, better known as Thomas the Rhymer. He published in 1805 "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," an original ballad poem, which, speedily attaining a wide circulation, procured for him an extensive reputation, and the substantial reward of £600.
The prosperity of the poet rose with his fame. In[Pg 280] the year following that which produced the "Lay," he received his appointment as a principal clerk of the Court of Session, an office which afterwards brought him £1200 a-year. To literary occupation he now resolved to dedicate his intervals of leisure. In 1808 he produced "Marmion," his second great poem, which brought him £1000 from the publisher, and at once established his fame. During the same year he completed the heavy task of editing the works of Dryden, in eighteen volumes. In 1809 he edited the state papers and letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, and became a contributor to the Edinburgh Annual Register, conducted by Southey. "The Lady of the Lake," the most happily-conceived and popular of his poetical works, appeared in 1810; "Don Roderick," in 1811; "Rokeby," in 1813; and "The Lord of the Isles," in 1814. "Harold the Dauntless," and "The Bridal of Triermain," appeared subsequently, without the author's name.
As a poet, Scott had now attained a celebrity unrivalled among his contemporaries, and it was in the apprehension of compromising his reputation, that, in attempting a new species of composition, he was extremely anxious to conceal the name of the author. The novel of "Waverley," which appeared in 1814, did not, however, suffer from its being anonymous; for, although the sale was somewhat heavy at first, the work soon afterwards reached the extraordinary circulation of twelve thousand copies. Contrary to reasonable expectation, however, the author of "Waverley" did not avow himself, and, numerous as was the catalogue of prose fictions which, for more than twenty years, proceeded from his pen, he continued as desirous of retaining his secret as were his female contemporaries, Lady Nairn[Pg 281] and Lady Anne Barnard, to cast a veil over their poetical character. The rapidity with which the "Great Unknown" produced works of fiction, was one of the marvels of the age; and many attempts were made to withdraw the curtain which concealed the mysterious author. Successive years produced at least one, and often two, novels of a class infinitely superior to the romances of the past age, all having reference to the manners and habits of the most interesting and chivalrous periods of Scottish or British history, which, in these works, were depicted with a power and vivacity unattained by the most graphic national historians. Subsequently to the publication of "Guy Mannering" and "The Antiquary," in 1815 and 1816, and as an expedient to sustain the public interest, Scott commenced a new series of novels, under the title of "Tales of my Landlord," these being professedly written by a different author; but this resort was abandoned as altogether unnecessary for the contemplated object. Each successive romance by the author of "Waverley" awakened renewed ardour and enthusiasm among the public, and commanded a circulation commensurate with the bounds in which the language was understood. Many of them were translated into the various European languages. In the year 1814 he had published an edition of the works of Swift, in nineteen volumes octavo.
For some years after his marriage, Scott had occupied a cottage in the romantic vicinity of Lasswade, near Edinburgh; but in 1804 he removed to Ashestiel, an old mansion, beautifully situated on the banks of the Tweed, seven miles above Selkirk, where, for several years, he continued to reside during the vacation of the Court. The ruling desire of his life was, that by the proceeds of his intellectual labour he might acquire an ample[Pg 282] demesne, with a suitable mansion of his own, and thus in some measure realise in his own person, and in those of his representatives, somewhat of the territorial importance of those olden barons, whose wassails and whose feuds he had experienced delight in celebrating. To attain such distinction as a Scottish laird, or landholder, he was prepared to incur many sacrifices; nor was this desire exceeded by regard for literary reputation. It was unquestionably with a view towards the attainment of his darling object, that he taxed so severely those faculties with which nature had so liberally endowed him, and exhibited a prolificness of authorship, such as has rarely been evinced in the annals of literary history. In 1811 he purchased, on the south bank of the Tweed, near Melrose, the first portion of that estate which, under the name of Abbotsford, has become indelibly associated with his history. The soil was then a barren waste, but by extensive improvements the place speedily assumed the aspect of amenity and beauty. The mansion, a curious amalgamation, in questionable taste, of every species of architecture, was partly built in 1811, and gradually extended with the increasing emoluments of the owner. By successive purchases of adjacent lands, the Abbotsford property became likewise augmented, till the rental amounted to about £700 a-year—a return sufficiently limited for an expenditure of upwards of £50,000 on this favourite spot.
At Abbotsford the poet maintained the character of a wealthy country gentleman. He was visited by distinguished persons from the sister kingdom, from the Continent, and from America, all of whom he entertained in a style of sumptuous elegance. Nor did his constant social intercourse with his visitors and friends interfere with the regular prosecution of his literary[Pg 283] labours: he rose at six, and engaged in study and composition till eleven o'clock. During the period of his residence in the country, he devoted the remainder of the day to his favourite exercise on horseback, the superintendence of improvements on his property, and the entertainment of his guests. In March 1820, George IV., to whom he was personally known, and who was a warm admirer of his genius, granted to him the honour of a baronetcy, being the first which was conferred by his Majesty after his accession. Prior to this period, besides the works already enumerated, he had given to the world his romances of "The Black Dwarf," "Old Mortality," "Rob Roy," "The Heart of Midlothian," "The Bride of Lammermoor," "A Legend of Montrose," and "Ivanhoe." The attainment of the baronetcy appears to have stimulated him to still greater exertion. In 1820 he produced, besides "Ivanhoe," which appeared in the early part of that year, "The Monastery" and "The Abbot;" and in the beginning of 1821, the romance of "Kenilworth," being twelve volumes published within the same number of months. "The Pirate" and "The Fortunes of Nigel" appeared in 1822; "Peveril of the Peak" and "Quentin Durward," in 1823; "St Ronan's Well" and "Redgauntlet," in 1824; and "The Tales of the Crusaders," in 1825.
During the visit of George IV. to Scotland, in 1822, Sir Walter undertook the congenial duty of acting as Master of Ceremonies, which he did to the entire satisfaction of his sovereign and of the nation. But while prosperity seemed to smile with increasing brilliancy, adversity was hovering near. In 1826, Archibald Constable and Company, the famous publishers of his works, became insolvent, involving in their bankruptcy[Pg 284] the printing firm of the Messrs Ballantyne, of which Sir Walter was a partner. The liabilities amounted to the vast sum of £102,000, for which Sir Walter was individually responsible. To a mind less balanced by native intrepidity and fortified by principle, the apparent wreck of his worldly hopes would have produced irretrievable despondency; but Scott bore his misfortune with magnanimity and manly resignation. He had been largely indebted to both the establishments which had unfortunately involved him in their fall, in the elegant production of his works, as well as in respect of pecuniary accommodation; and he felt bound in honour, as well as by legal obligation, fully to discharge the debt. He declined to accept an offer of the creditors to be satisfied with a composition; and claiming only to be allowed time, applied himself with indomitable energy to his arduous undertaking, at the age of fifty-five, in the full determination, if his life was spared, of cancelling every farthing of his obligations. At the crisis of his embarrassments he was engaged in the composition of "Woodstock," which shortly afterwards appeared. The "Life of Napoleon," which had for a considerable time occupied his attention, was published in 1827, in nine vols. octavo. In the course of its preparation he had visited both London and Paris in search of materials. In the same year he produced "Chronicles of the Canongate," first series; and in the year following, the second series of those charming tales, and the first portion of his juvenile history of Scotland, under the title of "Tales of a Grandfather." A second portion of these tales appeared in 1829, and the third and concluding series in 1830, when he also contributed a graver History of Scotland in two volumes to Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia. In 1829[Pg 285] likewise appeared "Anne of Geierstein," a romance, and in 1830 the "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft." In 1831 he produced a series of "Tales on French History," uniform with the "Tales of a Grandfather," and his novels, "Count Robert of Paris," and "Castle Dangerous," as a fourth series of "Tales of My Landlord." Other productions of inferior mark appeared from his pen; he contributed to the Edinburgh Review, during the first year of its career; wrote the articles, "Chivalry," "Romance," and "Drama," for the sixth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica; and during his latter years contributed somewhat copiously to the Quarterly Review.
At a public dinner in Edinburgh, for the benefit of the Theatrical Fund, on the 23d of February 1827, Sir Walter made his first avowal as to the authorship of the Waverley Novels,—an announcement which scarcely took the public by surprise. The physical energies of the illustrious author were now suffering a rapid decline; and in his increasing infirmities, and liability to sudden and severe attacks of pain, and even of unconsciousness, it became evident to his friends, that, in the praiseworthy effort to pay his debts, he was sacrificing his health and shortening his life. Those apprehensions proved not without foundation. In the autumn of 1831, his health became so lamentably broken, that his medical advisers recommended a residence in Italy, and entire cessation from mental occupation, as the only means of invigorating a constitution so seriously dilapidated. But the counsel came too late; the patient proceeded to Naples, and afterwards to Rome, but experiencing no benefit from the change, he was rapidly conveyed homewards in the following summer, in obedience to his express wish, that he might have the satisfaction of closing his eyes at Abbotsford. The wish was gratified: he arrived at[Pg 286] Abbotsford on the 11th of July 1832, and survived till the 21st of the ensuing September. According to his own request, his remains were interred in an aisle in Dryburgh Abbey, which had belonged to one of his ancestors, and had been granted to him by the late Earl of Buchan. A heavy block of marble rests upon the grave, in juxtaposition with another which has been laid on that of his affectionate partner in life, who died in May 1826. The aisle is protected by a heavy iron railing.
In stature, Sir Walter Scott was above six feet; but his personal appearance, which had otherwise been commanding, was considerably marred by the lameness of his right limb, which caused him to walk with an awkward effort, and ultimately with much difficulty. His countenance, so correctly represented in his numerous portraits and busts, was remarkable for depth of forehead; his features were somewhat heavy, and his eyes, covered with thick eyelashes, were dull, unless animated by congenial conversation. He was of a fair complexion; and his hair, originally sandy, became gray from a severe illness which he suffered in his 48th year. His general conversation consisted in the detail of chivalric adventures and anecdotes of the olden times. His memory was so retentive that whatever he had studied indelibly maintained a place in his recollection. In fertility of imagination he surpassed all his contemporaries. As a poet, if he has not the graceful elegance of Campbell, and the fervid energy of Byron, he excels the latter in purity of sentiment, and the former in vigour of conception. His style was well adapted for the composition of lyric poetry; but as he had no ear for music, his song compositions are not numerous. Several of these, however, have been set to music, and maintain[Pg 287] their popularity. But Scott's reputation as a poet is inferior to his reputation as a novelist; and while even his best poems may cease to be generally read, the author of the Waverley Novels will only be forgotten with the disuse of the language. A cabinet edition of these novels, with the author's last notes, and illustrated with elegant engravings, appeared in forty-eight volumes a short period before his decease; several other complete editions have since been published by the late Mr Robert Cadell, and by the present proprietors of the copyright, the Messrs Black of Edinburgh.
As a man of amiable dispositions and incorruptible integrity, Sir Walter Scott shone conspicuous among his contemporaries, the latter quality being eminently exhibited in his resolution to pay the whole of his heavy pecuniary liabilities. To this effort he fell a martyr; yet it was a source of consolation to his survivors, that, by his own extraordinary exertions, the policy of life insurance payable at his death, and the sum of £30,000 paid by Mr Cadell for the copyright of his works, the whole amount of the debt was discharged. It is, however painfully, to be remarked, that the object of his earlier ambition, in raising a family, has not been realised. His children, consisting of two sons and two daughters, though not constitutionally delicate, have all departed from the scene, and the only representative of his house is the surviving child of his eldest daughter, who was married to Mr John Gibson Lockhart, the late editor of the Quarterly Review, and his literary executor. This sole descendant, a grand-daughter, is the wife of Mr[Pg 288] Hope, Q.C., who has lately added to his patronymic the name of Scott, and made Abbotsford his summer residence. The memory of the illustrious Minstrel has received every honour from his countrymen; monuments have been raised to him in the principal towns—that in the capital, a rich Gothic cross, being one of the noblest decorations of his native city. Abbotsford has become the resort of the tourist and of the traveller from every land, who contemplate with interest and devotion a scene hallowed by the loftiest genius.
Robert Mackay, called Donn, from the colour of his hair, which was brown or chestnut, was born in the Strathmore of Sutherlandshire, about the year 1714.
His calling, with the interval of a brief military service in the fencibles, was the tending of cattle, in the several gradations of herd, drover, and bo-man, or responsible cow-keeper—the last, in his pastoral county, a charge of trust and respectability. At one period he had an appointment in Lord Reay's forest; but some deviations into the "righteous theft"—so the Highlanders of those parts, it seems, call the appropriation of an occasional deer to their own use—forfeited his noble employer's confidence. Rob, however, does not appear to have suffered in his general character or reputation for an unconsidered trifle like this, nor otherwise to have declined in the favour of his chief, beyond the necessity of transporting himself to a situation somewhat nearer the verge of Cape Wrath than the bosom of the deer preserve.
Mackay was happily married, and brought up a large family in habits and sentiments of piety; a fact which[Pg 310] his reverend biographer connects very touchingly with the stated solemnities of the "Saturday night," when the lighter chants of the week were exchanged at the worthy drover's fireside for the purer and holier melodies of another inspiration. As a pendant to this creditable account of the bard's principles, we are informed that he was a frequent guest at the presbytery dinner-table; a circumstance which some may be so malicious as to surmise amounted to nothing more than a purpose to enhance the festive recreations of the reverend body—a suspicion, we believe, in this particular instance, totally unfounded. He died in 1778; and he has succeeded to some rather peculiar honours for a person in his position, or even of his mark. He has had a reverend doctor for his editorial biographer, and no less than Sir Walter Scott for his reviewer.
The passages which Sir Walter has culled from some literal translations that were submitted to him, are certainly the most favourable specimens of the bard that we have been able to discover in his volume. The rest are generally either satiric rants too rough or too local for transfusion, or panegyrics on the living and the dead, in the usual extravagant style of such compositions, according to the taste of the Highlanders and the usage of their bards; or they are love-lays, of which the language is more copious and diversified than the sentiment. In the gleanings on which we have ventured, after the illustrious person who has done so much honour to the bard by his comments and selections, we have attempted to draw out a little more of the peculiar character of the poet's genius.[Pg 311]
This is selected as a specimen of Mackay's descriptive poetry. It is in a style peculiar to the Highlands, where description runs so entirely into epithets and adjectives, as to render recitation breathless, and translation hopeless. Here, while we have retained the imagery, we have been unable to find room, or rather rhyme, for one half of the epithets in the original. The power of alliterative harmony in the original song is extraordinary.
Mackay was entertained by Macechan, who was a respectable store-farmer, from his earliest life to his marriage. According to his reverend biographer, the last lines of the elegy, of which the following is a translation, were much approved.
During a long absence on a droving expedition, Mackay was deprived of his mistress by another lover, whom, in fine, she married. The discovery he made, on his return, led to this compo[Pg 316]sition; which is a sequel to another composed on his distant journey, in which he seems to prognosticate something like what happened. Both are selected by Sir Walter Scott as specimens of the bard, and may be found paraphrastically rendered in a prose version, in the Quarterly Review, vol. xlv., p. 371, and in the notes to the last edition of "The Highland Drover," in "Chronicles of the Canongate." With regard to the present specimen, it may be remarked, that part of the original is either so obscure, or so freely rendered by Sir Walter Scott's translator, that we have attempted the present version, not without some little perplexity as to the sense of one or two allusions. We claim, on the whole, the merit of almost literal fidelity.
This is one of those lyrics, of which there are many in Gaelic poetry, that are intended to imitate pipe music. They consist of three parts, called Urlar, Siubhal, and Crunluath. The first is a slow, monotonous measure, usually, indeed, a mere repetition of the same words or tones; the second, a livelier or brisker melody, striking into description or narrative; the third, a rapid finale, taxing the reciter's or performer's powers to their utmost pitch of expedition. The heroine of the song is the same Isabel who is introduced towards the commencement of the "Forsaken Drover;" and it appears, from other verses in Mackay's collection, that it was not her fate to be "alone" through life. It is to be understood that when the verses were composed, she was in charge of her father's extensive pastoral manége, and not a mere milk-maid or dairy-woman.
Mackay was benighted on a deer-stalking expedition, near a wild hut or shealing, at the head of Loch Eriboll. Here he found its only inmate a poor asthmatic old man, stretched on his pallet, apparently at the point of death. As he sat by his bed-side, he "crooned," so as to be audible, it seems, to the patient, the following elegiac ditty, in which, it will be observed, he alludes to the death, then recent, of Pelham, an eminent statesman of George the Second's reign. As he was finishing his ditty, the old man's feelings were moved in a way which will be found in the appended note. This is one of Sir Walter Scott's extracts in the Quarterly, and is now attempted in the measure of the original.
Dougal Buchanan was born at the Mill of Ardoch, in the beautiful valley of Strathyre, and parish of Balquhidder, in the year 1716. His parents were in circumstances to allow him the education of the parish school; on which, by private application, he so far improved, as to be qualified to act as teacher and catechist to the Highland locality which borders on Loch Rannoch, under the appointment of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Never, it is believed, were the duties of a calling discharged with more zeal and efficiency. The catechist was, both in and out of the strict department of his office, a universal oracle, and his name is revered in the scene of his usefulness in a degree to which the honours of canonization could scarcely have added. Pious, to the height of a proverbial model, he was withal frank, cheerful, and social; and from his extraordinary command of the Gaelic idiom, and its poetic phraseology, he must have lent an ear to many a song and many a legend—a nourishment of the imagination in which, as well as in purity of Gaelic, his[Pg 324] native Balquhidder was immeasurably inferior to the Rannoch district of his adoption.
The composition of hymns, embracing a most eloquent and musical paraphrase of many of the more striking inspirations of scriptural poetry, seems to have been the favourite employment of his leisure hours. These are sung or recited in every cottage of the Highlands where a reader or a retentive memory is to be found.
Buchanan's life was short. He was cut off by typhus fever, at a period when his talents had begun to attract a more than local attention. It was within a year after his return from superintending the press of the first version of the Gaelic New Testament, that his lamented death took place. His command of his native tongue is understood to have been serviceable to the translator, the Rev. James Stewart of Killin, who had probably been Buchanan's early acquaintance, as they were natives of the same district. This reverend gentleman is said to have entertained a scheme of getting the catechist regularly licensed to preach the gospel without the usual academical preparation. The scheme was frustrated by his death, in the summer of 1768.
We know of no fact relating to the development of the poetic vein of this interesting bard, unless it be found in the circumstance to which he refers in his "Diary," of having been bred a violent Jacobite, and having lived many years under the excitement of strong, even vindictive feelings, at the fate of his chief and landlord (Buchanan of Arnprior and Strathyre), who, with many of his dependents, and some of the poet's relations, suffered death for their share in the last rebellion. While he relates that the power of religion at length quenched this[Pg 325] effervescence of his emotions, it may be supposed that ardent Jacobitism, with its common accompaniment of melody, may have fostered an imagination which every circumstance proves to have been sufficiently susceptible. It may be added, as a particular not unworthy of memorial in a poet's life, that his remains are deposited in perhaps the most picturesque place of sepulture in the kingdom—the peninsula of Little Leny, in the neighbourhood of Callander; to which his relatives transferred his body, as the sepulchre of many chiefs and considerable persons of his clan, and where it is perhaps matter of surprise that his Highland countrymen have never thought of honouring his memory with some kind of monument.
The poetic remains of Dougal Buchanan do not afford extensive materials for translation. The subjects with which he deals are too solemn, and their treatment too surcharged with scriptural imagery, to be available for the purposes of a popular collection, of which the object is not directly religious. The only exception that occurs, perhaps, is his poem on "The Skull." Even in this case some moral pictures have been omitted, as either too coarsely or too solemnly touched, to be fit for our purpose. A few lines of the conclusion are also omitted, as being mere amplifications of Scripture—wonderful, indeed, in point of vernacular beauty or sublimity, but not fusible for other use. Slight traces of imitation may be perceived; "The Grave" of Blair, and some passages of "Hamlet," being the apparent models.[Pg 326]
We submit these further illustrations of the moral maxims of "The Skull." In the original they are touched in phraseology scarcely unworthy of the poet's Saxon models.
Duncan Macintyre (Donacha Ban) is considered by his countrymen the most extraordinary genius that the Highlands in modern times have produced. Without having learned a letter of any alphabet, he was enabled to pour forth melodies that charmed every ear to which they were intelligible. And he is understood to have had the published specimens of his poetry committed to writing by no mean judge of their merit,—the late Dr Stewart of Luss,—who, when a young man, became acquainted with this extraordinary person, in consequence of his being employed as a kind of under-keeper in a forest adjoining to the parish of which the Doctor's father was minister.
Macintyre was born in Druimliart of Glenorchy on the 20th of March 1724, and died in October 1812. He was chiefly employed in the capacity of keeper in several of the Earl of Breadalbane's forests. He carried a musket, however, in his lordship's fencibles; which led him to take part, much against his inclination, in the Whig ranks at the battle of Falkirk. Later in life he transferred his musket to the Edinburgh City Guard.
Macintyre's best compositions are those which are descriptive of forest scenes, and those which he dedicated to the praise of his wife. His verses are, however, very numerous, and embrace a vast variety of subjects. From the extraordinary diffusiveness of his descriptions, and the boundless luxuriance of his expressions, much difficulty has been experienced in reproducing his strains in the English idiom.[Pg 335]
Bendourain is a forest scene in the wilds of Glenorchy. The poem, or lay, is descriptive, less of the forest, or its mountain fastnesses, than of the habits of the creatures that tenant the locality—the dun-deer, and the roe. So minutely enthusiastic is the hunter's treatment of his theme, that the attempt to win any favour for his performance from the Saxon reader, is attended with no small risk,—although it is possible that a little practice with the rifle in any similar wilderness may propitiate even the holiday sportsman somewhat in favour of the subject and its minute details. We must commit this forest minstrel to the good-nature of other readers, entreating them only to render[Pg 337] due acknowledgment to the forbearance which has, in the meantime, troubled them only with the first half of the performance, and with a single stanza of the finale. The composition is always rehearsed or sung to pipe music, of which it is considered, by those who understand the original, a most extraordinary echo, besides being in other respects a very powerful specimen of Gaelic minstrelsy.
Macintyre acted latterly as a constable of the City Guard of Edinburgh, a situation procured him by the Earl of Breadalbane, at his own special request; that benevolent nobleman having inquired of the bard what he could do for him to render him independent in his now advanced years. His salary as a peace-officer was sixpence a-day; but the poet was so abundantly satisfied with the attainment of his position and endowments, that he gave expression to his feelings of satisfaction in a piece of minstrelsy, which in the original ranks among his best productions. Of this ode we are enabled to present a faithful metrical translation, quite in the spirit of the original, as far as conversion of the Gaelic into the Scottish idiom is practicable. The version was kindly undertaken at our request by Mr William Sinclair, the ingenious author of "Poems of the Fancy and the Affections," who has appropriately adapted it to the lively tune, "Alister M'Alister." The song, remarks Mr Sinclair, is much in the spirit, though in a more humorous strain, of the famous Sword Song, beginning in the translation, "Come forth, my glittering Bride," composed by Theodore Körner of Dresden, and the last and most remarkable of his patriotic productions, wherein the soldier addresses his sword as his bride, thereby giving expression to the most glowing sentiments of patriotism. Macintyre addresses as his wife the musket which he carried as an officer of the guard; and is certainly as enthusiastic in praise of his new acquisition, as ever was love-sick swain in eulogy of the most attractive fair one.
Jan Macodrum, the Bard of Uist, was patronised by an eminent judge of merit, Sir James Macdonald of Skye,—of whom, after a distinguished career at Oxford, such expectations were formed, that on his premature death at Rome he was lamented as the Marcellus of Scotland.
Macodrum's name is cited in the Ossianic controversy, upon Sir James's report, as a person whose mind was stored with Ossianic poetry, of which Macpherson gave to the world the far-famed specimens. A humorous story is told of Macodrum (who was a noted humorist) having trifled a little with the translator when he applied for a sample of the old Fingalian, in the words, "Hast thou got anything of, or on, (equivalent in Gaelic to hast thou anything to get of) the Fingalian heroes?" "If I have," quoth Macodrum, "I fear it is now irrecoverable."
Macodrum, whose real patronymic is understood to have been Macdonald, lived to lament his patron in elegiac strains—a fact that brings the time in which he flourished down to 1766.
His poem entitled the "Song of Age," is admired by his countrymen for its rapid succession of images (a little too mixed or abrupt on some occasions), its descriptive power, and its neatness and flow of versification.[Pg 352]
The picturesque portion of the description here terminates. With respect to the moral and religious application, it is but just to the poet to say, that before the close he appeals in pathetic terms to the young, warning them not to boast of their strength, or to abuse it; and that he concludes his lay with the sentiment, that whatever may be the ills of "age," there are worse that await an unrepenting death, and a suffering eternity.[Pg 355]
Single-speech Hamilton may be said to have had his marrow in a Highland bard, nearly his contemporary, whose one effort was attended with more lasting popularity than the sole oration of that celebrated person. The clan song of the Mackenzies is the composition in question, and its author is now ascertained to have been a gentleman, or farmer of the better class, of the name of Norman Macleod, a native of Assynt in Sutherland. The most memorable particular known of this person, besides the production of his poetic effort, is his having been the father of a Glasgow professor, whom we remember occupying the chair of Church History in the university in very advanced age, about 1814, assisted by a helper and successor; and of another son, who was the respected minister of Rogart till towards the end of last century.
The date of "Caberfae" is not exactly ascertained. It was composed during the exile of Lord Seaforth, but, we imagine, before the '45, in which he did not take part, and while Macshimei (Lord Lovat) still passed[Pg 356] for a Whig. In Mackenzie's excellent collection (p. 361), a later date is assigned to the production.
The Seaforth tenantry, who (after the manner of the clans) privately supported their chief in his exile, appear to have been much aggrieved by some proceedings of the loyalist, Monro of Fowlis, who, along with his neighbour of Culloden and Lovat, were probably acting under government commission, in which the interests of the crown were seconded by personal or family antagonism. The loyal family of Sutherland, who seem by grant or lease to have had an interest in the estates, also come in for a share of the bard's resentment.
All this forms the subject of "Caberfae," which, without having much meaning or poetry, served, like the celebrated "Lillibulero," to animate armies, and inflame party spirit to a degree that can scarcely be imagined. The repetition of "the Staghead, when rises his cabar on," which concludes every strophe, is enough at any time to bring a Mackenzie to his feet, or into the forefront of battle,—being a simple allusion to the Mackenzie crest, allegorised into an emblem of the stag at bay, or ready in his ire to push at his assailant. The cabar is the horn, or, rather, the "tine of the first-head,"—no ignoble emblem, certainly, of clannish fury and impetuosity. The difficulty of the measure compels us to the use of certain metrical freedoms, and also of some Gaelic words, for which is craved the reader's indulgence.[Pg 357]
END OF VOL. I.
A-low, on fire.
Ava, at all.
Bang, to change place hastily.
Bangster, a violent person.
Bawks, the cross-beams of a roof.
Bein, good, suitable.
Bicker, a dish for holding liquor.
Boddle, an old Scottish coin—value the third of a penny.
Boggie, a marsh.
Braw, gaily dressed.
Busk, to attire oneself.
Castocks, the pith of stalks of cabbages.
Caw, to drive.
Clavering, talking idly.
Clishmaclavers, idle talk.
Cock-up, a hat or cap turned up before.
Cogie, a hollow wooden vessel.
Cosie, snug, comfortable.
Creel, a basket.
Croft, a tenement of land.
Croon, to make a plaintive sound.
Crusie, a small lamp.
Curpin, the crupper of a saddle.
Cuttie, a short pipe.
Daunder, to walk thoughtlessly.
Disjasket, having appearance of decay.
Dorty, a foolish urchin.
Drone, sound of bagpipes.
Elf, a puny creature.
Fauld, a fold.
Ferlies, remarkable things.
Fogie, a stupid old person.
Foumart, a pole-cat.
Gabbit, a person prone to idle talk.
Giggle, unmeaning laughter.
Glamrie, the power of enchantment.
Glower, stare.[Pg 364]
Grist, the fee paid at the mill for grinding.
Gutters, mud, wet dust.
Hain, save, preserve.
Henny, honey, a familiar term of affection among the peasantry.
Hinkum, that which is put up in hanks or balls, as thread.
Howe, a hollow.
Kail, cabbages, colewort.
Kebbuck, a cheese.
Keil, red clay, used for marking.
Kenspeckle, having a singular appearance.
Leal, honest, faithful.
Leese me, pleased am I with.
Loof, the palm of the hand.
Lucky, A, an old woman.
Mailin, a farm.
Maukin, a hare.
Mishanter, a sorry scrape.
Mittens, gloves without fingers.
Mouls, the earth of the grave.
Mutch, a woman's cap.
Neip, a turnip.
Neive, the closed fist.
Nippen, carried off surreptitiously.
Owerlay, a cravat.
Perlins, women's ornaments.
Randy, a scold, a shrew.
Rink, run about.
Rummulgumshin, common sense.
Scartle, a graip or fork.
Shaw, a plantation.
Shiel, a sheep shed.
Skiffin, moving lightly.
Snooded, the hair bound up.
Spaewife, a female fortune-teller.
Spence, a larder.
Sumph, a soft person.
Swankie, a clever young fellow.
Tirl, to uncover.
Towmond, a year.
Trig, neat, trim.
Tyced, made diversion.
Whigmigmorum, political ranting.
Wizen, the throat.
EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY.
 This song was composed when Wilkes, Horne, and others, were exciting a commotion about liberty.
 This tune requires O to be added at the end of each of the long lines, but in reading the song the O is better omitted.
 Forbes's "Life of Beattie," vol. i. p. 375.
 Of the "Flowers of the Forest," two other versions appear in the Collections. That version beginning, "I've heard the lilting at our yow-milking," is the composition of Miss Jane Elliot, the daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, Lord Justice-Clerk, who died in 1766. She composed the song about the middle of the century, in imitation of an old version to the same tune. The other version, which is the most popular of the three, with the opening line, "I 've seen the smiling of fortune beguiling," was also the composition of a lady, Miss Alison Rutherford; by marriage, Mrs Cockburn, wife of Mr Patrick Cockburn, advocate. Mrs Cockburn was a person of highly superior accomplishments. She associated with her learned contemporaries, by whom she was much esteemed, and died at Edinburgh in 1794, at an advanced age. "The forest" mentioned in the song comprehended the county of Selkirk, with portions of Peeblesshire and Lanarkshire. This was a hunting-forest of the Scottish kings.
 These lines were addressed by Mrs Hunter to her daughter, on the occasion of her marriage.
 These verses form a modernised version of the old and popular song, "Will ye gae to the ewe-bughts, Marion?" The air is extremely beautiful.
 The name of this old melody is, "The Bridegroom greets when the Sun gangs down."—See Stenhouse's Notes to Johnson's "Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 280; the "Lives of the Lindsays," by Lord Lindsay, vol. ii., pp. 314, 332, 392. Lond. 1849, 3 vols., 8vo.
 "She was entertaining a large party of distinguished guests at dinner, when a hitch occurred in the kitchen. The old servant came up behind her and whispered, 'My lady, you must tell another story—the second course won't be ready for five minutes!'"—Letter of General Lindsay to Lord Lindsay, "Lives of the Lindsays," vol. ii. p. 387.
 The Rev. William Leeves, of Wrington, to whose tune the ballad is now sung.—See an account of Mr Leeves' claims to the authorship of the tune, &c., in Johnson's "Musical Museum;" Stenhouse's Notes, vol. iv. p. 231.
 We quote from an autobiography of the poet, the original of which is in the possession of one of his surviving friends. We have likewise to acknowledge our obligations to Dr Muschet, of Birkhill, near Stirling, for communicating some interesting letters of Macneill, addressed to his late father. The late Mr John Campbell, Writer to the Signet, had undertaken to supply a memoir for this work, partly from his own recollections of his deceased friend; but, before he could fulfil his promise, he was called to rest with his fathers. We have, however, taken advantage of his reminiscences of the bard, orally communicated to us. An intelligent abridgment of the autobiography appears in Blackwood's Magazine, vol. iv. p. 273. See likewise the Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. xv. p. 307.
 "The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern," by Allan Cunningham, vol. i. p. 242. London, 1825; 4 vols. 12mo.
 This song was first published, in May 1791, in The Bee, an Edinburgh periodical, conducted by Dr James Anderson.
 This beautiful ballad was first printed, in 1791, in The Bee. It is adapted to an old and sweet air, to which, however, very puerile words were attached.
 Mr Graham, of Gartmore, an intimate friend of Hector Macneill, composed a song, having a similar burden, the chorus proceeding thus:—
This was published by Sir Walter Scott, in the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," as a production of the reign of Charles I.
 The first stanza of this song, along with a second, which is unsuitable for insertion, has been ascribed, on the authority of Burns, to the Rev. John Clunie, minister of Borthwick, in Mid-Lothian, who died in 1819, aged sixty-two. Ritson, however, by prefixing the letters "J. D." to the original stanza would seem to point to a different author.
 This fine ballad was written by Macneill, to commemorate the death of his friend, Captain Stewart, a brave officer, betrothed to a young lady in Athole, who, in 1777, fell at the battle of Saratoga, in America. The words, which are adapted to an old Gaelic air, appear with music in Smith's "Scottish Minstrel," vol. iii. p. 28. The ballad, in the form given above, has been improved in several of the stanzas by the author, on his original version, published in Johnson's "Museum." See the "Museum," vol. iv. p. 238.
 Mora is the name of a small valley in Athole, so designated by the two lovers.
 This song was originally printed on a single sheet, by N. Stewart and Co., Edinburgh, in 1794, as the lament of a lady on the death of an officer. It does not appear in Macneill's "Poetical Works," but he asserted to Mr Stenhouse his claims to the authorship.—Johnson's "Museum," vol. iv. p. 323.
 The last verse of this song was added by John Hamilton. The song, on account of this addition, was not included by Macneill in the collected edition of his "Poetical Works." One of Miss Blamire's songs has the same opening line; and it has been conjectured by Mr Maxwell, the editor of her poems, that Macneill had been indebted to her song for suggesting his verses.
 From Albyn's "Anthology," vol. i. p. 42. Edinburgh, 1816, 4to.
 See Note to "Lady of the Lake."
 See the Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. xxi. p. 170.
 This song originally consisted of two stanzas, the third stanza being subsequently added by the author. It is adapted to a beautiful old air, "Logan Water," incongruously connected with some indecorous stanzas. Burns deemed Mayne's version an elder production of the Scottish muse, and attempted to modernise the song, but his edition is decidedly inferior. Other four stanzas have been added, by some anonymous versifier, to Mayne's verses, which first appeared in Duncan's "Encyclopædia of Scottish, English, and Irish Songs," printed at Glasgow in 1836, 2 vols. 12mo. In those stanzas the lover is brought back to Logan braes, and consummates his union with his weeping shepherdess. The stream of Logan takes its rise among the hills separating the parishes of Lesmahago and Muirkirk, and, after a flow of eight miles, deposits its waters into the Nethan river.
 During the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, a young lady, of great personal attractions and numerous accomplishments, named Helen Irving, daughter of Irving of Kirkconnel, in Annandale, was betrothed to Adam Fleming de Kirkpatrick, a young gentleman of fortune in the neighbourhood. Walking with her lover on the banks of the Kirtle, she was slain by a shot which had been aimed at Fleming by a disappointed rival. The melancholy history has been made the theme of three different ballads, two of these being old. The present ballad, by Mr Mayne, was inserted by Sir Walter Scott in the Edinburgh Annual Register of 1815.
 Burns composed two verses to the same tune, which is very old. It was a favourite of Queen Mary, the consort of William III. In his "Beggar's Opera," Gay has adopted the tune for one of his songs. It was published, in 1652, by John Hilton, as the third voice to what is called a "Northern Catch" for three voices, beginning—"I'se gae wi' thee, my sweet Peggy."
 These stanzas are founded on some lines of old doggerel, beginning—
 Literary Gazette, March 1851.
 This song was written for Thomson's "Melodies." "Todlin' Hame," the air to which it is adapted, appears in Ramsay's "Tea-Table Miscellany" as an old song. The words begin—"When I hae a saxpence under my thum." Burns remarks that "it is perhaps one of the first bottle-songs that ever was composed."
 This song is a new version of "The Blythesome Bridal," beginning, "Fy, let us a' to the bridal," which first appeared in Watson's Collection, in 1706, and of which the authorship was generally assigned to Francis Semple of Beltrees, in Renfrewshire, who lived in the middle of the seventeenth century, though more recently it has been attributed to Sir William Scott of Thirlestane, in Selkirkshire, who flourished in the beginning of last century. The words of the original song are coarse, but humorous.
 The style of this song and the chorus are borrowed from "The Drucken Wife o' Gallowa'," a song which first appeared in the "Charmer," a collection of songs, published at Edinburgh in 1751, but the authorship of which is unknown.
 "The Wee Pickle Tow" is an old air, to which the words of this song were written.
 This song was contributed by Miss Baillie to "The Harp of Caledonia."
 Of the song, "Woo'd, and married, and a'," there is another version, published in Johnson's "Musical Museum," vol. i. p. 10, which was long popular among the ballad-singers. This was composed by Alexander Ross, schoolmaster of Lochlee, author of "Helenore, or the Fortunate Shepherdess." A song, having a similar commencement, had previously been current on the Border.
 The two first stanzas of this song are the composition of the gifted and unfortunate Robert Fergusson. It is founded on an older ditty, beginning, "I'll rowe thee o'er the lea-rig." See Johnson's "Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 53.
 These stanzas are in continuation of Burns's song, "John Anderson, my jo." Five other stanzas have been added to the continuation by some unknown hand, which will be found in the "Book of Scottish Song," p. 54. Glasgow, 1853.
 The four first lines of the last stanza are by Burns.
 These tender and beautiful verses are transcribed from Johnson's "Musical Museum," in a note to which they were first published by the editor, Mr David Laing. He remarks that he "has reason to believe" that they are from the pen of Mrs Stewart. (See Johnson's "Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 366, new edition. Edinburgh, 1853.)
 The "Songs of Scotland," by Allan Cunningham, vol. i. p. 247.
 The most complete collection of his poems appeared in a volume published under the following title:—"The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson; also, his Miscellaneous Prose Writings, Journals, Letters, Essays, &c., now first Collected: Illustrated by Critical and Explanatory Notes, with an extended Memoir of his Life and Writings, and a Glossary." Belfast, 1844, 18vo. A portrait of the author is prefixed.
 We have ventured to omit three verses, and to alter slightly the last line of this song. It was originally published at Paisley, in 1790, to the tune of "One bottle more." Auchtertool is a small hamlet in Fifeshire, about five miles west of the town of Kirkcaldy. The inhabitants, whatever may have been their failings at the period when Wilson in vain solicited shelter in the hamlet, are certainly no longer entitled to bear the reproach of lacking in hospitality. We rejoice in the opportunity thus afforded of testifying as to the disinterested hospitality and kindness which we have experienced in that neighbourhood.
 Robertson of Struan, cousin-german of Lady Nairn's mother, and a conspicuous Jacobite chief, composed many fugitive verses for the amusement of his friends; and a collection of them, said to have been surreptitiously obtained from a servant, was published, without a date, under the following title:—"Poems on various Subjects and Occasions, by the Honourable Alexander Robertson of Struan, Esq.—mostly taken from his own original Manuscripts." Edinburgh, 8vo.
 Writing to one of her correspondents, in November 1840, Lady Nairn thus remarks—"I sometimes say to myself, 'This is no me,' so greatly have my feelings and trains of thought changed since 'auld lang syne;' and, though I am made to know assuredly that all is well, I scarcely dare to allow my mind to settle on the past."
 A daughter of Baron Hume was one of the ladies who induced Lady Nairn to become a contributor to "The Scottish Minstrel." Many of the songs were sent to the Editor through the medium of Miss Hume. She thus expresses herself in a letter to a friend:—"My father's admiration of 'The Land o' the Leal' was such, that he said no woman but Miss Ferrier was capable of writing it. And when I used to shew him song after song in MS., when I was receiving the anonymous verses for the music, and ask his criticism, he said—'Your unknown poetess has only one, or rather two, letters out of taste, viz., choosing "B. B." for her signature.'"
 This song has acquired an extensive popularity, for which it is much indebted, in addition to its intrinsic merits, to the musical powers of the late John Wilson, the eminent vocalist, whose premature death is a source of regret to all lovers of Scottish melody. Mr Wilson sung this song in every principal town of the United Kingdom, and always with effect.
 This exquisitely tender and beautiful lay was composed by Lady Nairn, for two married relatives of her own, Mr and Mrs C——, who had sustained bereavement in the death of a child. Such is the account of its origin which we have received from Lady Nairn's relatives.
 This humorous and highly popular song was composed by Lady Nairn towards the close of the last century, in place of the older words connected with the air, "When she came ben, she bobbit." The older version, which is entitled "Cockpen," is exceptional on the score of refinement, but was formerly sung on account of the excellence of the air. It is generally believed to be a composition of the reign of Charles II.; and the hero of the piece, "the Laird of Cockpen," is said to have been the companion in arms and attached friend of his sovereign. Of this personage an anecdote is recorded in some of the Collections. Having been engaged with his countrymen at the battle of Worcester, in the cause of Charles, he accompanied the unfortunate monarch to Holland, and, forming one of the little court at the Hague, amused his royal master by his humour, and especially by his skill in Scottish music. In playing the tune, "Brose and Butter," he particularly excelled; it became the favourite of the exiled monarch, and Cockpen had pleasure in gratifying the royal wish, that he might be lulled to sleep at night, and awakened in the morning by this enchanting air. At the Restoration, Cockpen found that his estate had been confiscated for his attachment to the king, and had the deep mortification to discover that he had suffered on behalf of an ungrateful prince, who gave no response to his many petitions and entreaties for the restoration of his possessions. Visiting London, he was even denied an audience; but he still entertained a hope that, by a personal conference with the king, he might attain his object. To accomplish this design, he had recourse to the following artifice:—He formed acquaintance with the organist of the chapel-royal, and obtained permission to officiate as his substitute when the king came to service. He did so with becoming propriety till the close of the service, when, instead of the solemn departing air, he struck up the monarch's old favourite, "Brose and Butter." The scheme, though bordering on profanity, succeeded in the manner intended. The king proceeding hastily to the organ-gallery, discovered Cockpen, whom he saluted familiarly, declaring that he had "almost made him dance." "I could dance too," said Cockpen, "if I had my lands again." The request, to which every entreaty could not gain a response, was yielded to the power of music and old association. Cockpen was restored to his inheritance. The modern ballad has been often attributed to Miss Ferrier, the accomplished author of "Marriage," and other popular novels. She only contributed the last two stanzas. The present Laird of Cockpen is the Marquis of Dalhousie.
 The first two lines of this song are borrowed from the "Lea-Rig," a lively and popular lyric, of which the first two verses were composed by Robert Fergusson, the three remaining being added by William Reid of Glasgow. (See ante, article "William Reid.")
 The author seems to have composed these stanzas as a sequel to a wooing song of the same name, beginning, "Robin is my only jo," which first appeared in Herd's Collection in 1776. There are some older words to the same air, but these are coarse, and are not to be found in any of the modern Collections.
 Another song with the same title, "Saw ye nae my Peggy?" is inserted in the Collections. It first appeared in Herd's Collection, in 1769, though it is understood to be of a considerably older date. Allan Ramsay composed two songs to the same air, but they are both inferior. The air is believed to have originally been connected with some exceptionable words, beginning, "Saw ye my Maggie?"
 There are several other versions of this highly popular song. One of these, the composition of William Reid of Glasgow, has already been adduced. See ante, p. 157. Another, which is one of the most celebrated, in the first two verses is nearly the same with the opening stanzas of Lady Nairn's version, the sequel proceeding as follows:—
Mr Lyle, in his "Ancient Ballads and Songs" (Lond. 1827, 12mo, p. 138), presents an additional version, which we subjoin. Mr Lyle remarks, that he had revised it from an old stall copy, ascribed to Colonel James Ramsay of Stirling Castle.
THE BONNIE LASS O' GOWRIE.
 The present is an amended version of an old song, entitled "The Bonnie Brier Bush," altered and added to by Burns for the "Musical Museum."
 A familiar Scottish phrase for good sense.
 Castle Gloom, better known as Castle Campbell, was a residence of the noble family of Argyll, from the middle of the fifteenth till the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was burnt by the Marquis of Montrose—an enterprise to which he was excited by the Ogilvies, who thus sought revenge for the destruction, by the Marquis of Argyll, of the "bonnie house of Airlie." The castle is situated on a promontory of the Ochil hills, near the village of Dollar, in Clackmannanshire, and has long been in the ruinous condition described in the song. Two hill rivulets, designated Sorrow and Care, proceed on either side of the castle promontory. John Knox, the Reformer, for some time resided in Castle Gloom, with Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyll, and here preached the Reformed doctrines.
 "Charles Edward entered Carlisle preceded by a hundred pipers. Two thousand Highlanders crossed the Esk, at Longtown; the tide being swollen, nothing was seen of them but their heads and shoulders; they stemmed the force of the stream, and lost not a man in the passage: when landed, the pipers struck up, and they danced reels until they were dry again."—Authentic Account of Occupation of Carlisle, by George G. Monsey.
 These verses are printed from a MS. in possession of one of Lady Nairn's friends, and are, the Editor believes, for the first time published.
 The romantic scenery depicted in this song is in the immediate vicinity of the Queen's Drive, Edinburgh.
 The wells of Weary are situated near the Windyknowe, beneath Salisbury Crags.
 This song is printed from an improved version of the original, by a literary friend of the author.
 Here first printed.
 These verses are here first printed.
 This song was composed in 1842, when the author had attained her seventy-sixth year. The four lays following, breathing the same devotional spirit, appear to have been written about the same period of the author's life. The present song is printed from the original MS.
 These stanzas are printed for the first time. The MS. is not in Lady Nairn's handwriting, but there is every reason to assign to her the authorship.
 The simple and sublime original of these stanzas, with the fine air by Hümmel, became the national song of Germany, and was sung by the soldiers especially, during the latter campaigns of the war, when Buonaparte was twice dethroned, and Europe finally delivered from French predominance.
 The Ouse.
 We have to acknowledge our obligations for several particulars of this sketch to Mr Robert Bower, Melrose, the author of a volume of "Ballads and Lyrics," published at Edinburgh in 1853.
 We regret that, owing to the provision of the copyright act, we are unable, in this work, to present four of Sir Walter Scott's most popular songs, "The Blue Bonnets over the Border," "Jock o' Hazeldean," "M'Gregor's Gathering," and "Carle, now the King's come." These songs must, however, be abundantly familiar to the majority of readers.
 From "The Grave of Sir Walter Scott," a poem by Thomas C. Latto (see "The Minister's Kail-yard, and other Poems." Edinburgh, 1845, 12mo). To explain an allusion in the last line of the above stanza, it should be noticed, that the last dress of the poet is exhibited to visitors at Abbotsford, carefully preserved in a glass case.
 This song appears in the sixth canto of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel." "It is the author's object in these songs," writes Lord Jeffrey, "to exemplify the different styles of ballad-narrative which prevailed in this island at different periods, or in different conditions of society. The first (the above) is conducted upon the rude and simple model of the old border ditties, and produces its effect by the direct and concise narrative of a tragical occurrence."
 This song occurs in the fifth canto of "Marmion." It is founded on a ballad entitled "Katharine Janfarie," in the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border."
 From the third canto of "Marmion."
 The song of Lady Margaret in the first canto of "The Lady of the Lake."
 The "boat song" in the second canto of "The Lady of the Lake." It may be sung to the air of "The Banks of the Devon."
 Song of Norman in "The Lady of the Lake," canto third.
 "The Lady of the Lake," canto sixth.
 "The Lady of the Lake," canto third.
 "Rokeby," canto third.
 "Rokeby," canto third.
 "Rokeby," canto fifth.
 "Rokeby," canto fifth.
 First published in the continuation of Strutt's Queenhoohall, 1808, inserted in the Edinburgh Annual Register, of the same year, and set to a Welsh air in Thomson's Select Melodies, vol. iii., 1817.
 Songs and Poems of Robert Mackay, p. 38. (Inverness, 1829. 8vo.)
 The Rev. Dr Mackintosh Mackay, successively minister of Laggan and Dunoon, now a clergyman in Australia.
 Quarterly Review, vol. xlv., April 1831.
 "Birk-shaw." A few Scotticisms will be found in these versions, at once to flavour the style, and, it must be admitted, to assist the rhymes.
 The sides of the cottages—plastered with mud or mortar, instead of lime.
 "Poems," p. 318.
 "Anne"—Rob's first love, the heroine of the piece. "Similar in interest to the Highland Mary of Burns, is the yellow-haired Anne of Rob Donn."—"Life," p. 18.
 "Isabel"—the daughter of Ian Macechan, the subject of other verses.
 "Unsummon'd of thee." The idea is rather quaintly expressed in the original thus—"Though thou hast sent me no summons, love has, of his own accord, acted the part of a catchpole (or sheriff's officer), and will not release me." Such are the homely fancies introduced into some of the most passionate strains of the Gaelic muse.
 Alluding to his absence, and delay in his courtship.
 Rather more modest than the classic's "feriam sidera vertice."
 A common Highland adjuration.
 At this humiliating apostrophe, the beggar is reported to have instinctively raised his staff—an action which the bard observed just in time to avoid its descent on his back.
 "Statistical Account of Fortingall."—Stat. Acc., x., p. 549.
 The same account observes that though none of his works are published but his sacred compositions, he composed "several songs on various subjects."
 Published at Glasgow, 1836.
 These are his descriptions of "The Drunkard," "The Glutton," and "The Good and Wicked Pastor."
 Maiden or virgin—orig.
 Orig.—The venomous red spider.
 Gaelic, "gealag"—descriptive of the salmon, from its glossy brightness.
 Anglicised into Ben.
 The deer.
 Stag of the first head.
 Any one who has heard a native attempt the Lowland tongue for the first time, is familiar with the personification that turns every inanimate object into he or she. The forest is here happily personified as a nurse or mother.
 St John's wort.
 A kind of cress, or marshmallow.
 Gaelic—Caoillt; who, with Cuchullin, makes a figure in traditional Gaelic poetry.
 Gaelic—King George.
 Literally—"From the barrel of Nic-Coisean." This was the poet's favourite gun, to which his muse has addressed a separate song of considerable merit.
 The "Auld Town Guard" of Edinburgh, which existed before the Police Acts came into operation, was composed principally of Highlandmen, some of them old pensioners. Their rendezvous, or place of resort, was in the vicinity of old St Giles's Church, where they might generally be found smoking, snuffing, and speaking in the true Highland vernacular. Archie Campbell, celebrated by Macintyre as "Captain Campbell," was the last, and a favourable specimen of this class of civic functionaries. He was a stout, tall man; and, dressed in his "knee breeks and buckles, wi' the red-necked coat, and the cocked hat," he considered himself of no ordinary importance. He had a most thorough contempt for grammar, and looked upon the Lord Provost as the greatest functionary in the world. He delighted to be called "the Provost's right-hand man." Archie is still well remembered by many of the inhabitants of Edinburgh, as he was quite a character in the city. In dealing with a prisoner, Archie used to impress him with the idea that he could do great things for him by merely speaking to "his honour the Provost;" and when locking a prisoner up in the Tolbooth, he would say sometimes—"There, my lad, I cannot do nothing more for you!" He took care to give his friends from the Highlands a magnificent notion of his great personal consequence, which, of course, they aggrandised when they returned to the hills.
 A byeword for a regimental firelock.
 A favourite fowling-piece, alluded to in Bendourain, and elsewhere.
 Alluding to the plagues.
 The teeth.
 Gaelic—Matted, rough, gray beard.
 In Stat. Ac. said to be of Lochbroom, vol. xiv., p. 79.
 Hugh Macleod.
 Applicable both to the chief and his crest.
 Literally, "the dress," (pron. ēidi,) i.e., Highland garb, not yet abolished.
 Sutherlanders, or Caithness men.
 Monro of Fowlis.
 Rose of Kilravock and his clan.
 Grant of Grant.
 Of Culloden.
 Of Sutherland.
 Lord Reay.
 Steed. The Celtic "Cabul" and Latin "Caballus" correspond.
 Here the bard is a little obscure; but he seems to mean that the Monroes made their escape over the skulls of the dead, as if they were boats or coracles by which to cross or get away from danger.
 The Caithness and Sutherland men.
 Lovat's men.
 The eagle being the crest of the Monro.
 The eagle; the crest of Monro of Fowlis. The filthy and cruel habits of this predatory bird are here contrasted with the forest-manners of the stag in a singular specimen of clan vituperation.
 Fioreun, the name of the eagle, signifying true bird.
 Literally—Accursed by Moses, or the Mosaic law.
 The single eagle's feather crested the chieftain's bonnet.
 Literally—If thy feather is noble, thy claws are (of) the devil!
 This picture of the eagle is not much for edification—nor another hit at the lion of the Macdonalds, then at feud with the Seaforth. The former is abridged, and the latter omitted; as also a lively detail of the creagh, in which the Monroes are reproached with their spoilages of cheese, butter, and winter-mart beef.
 Macallammore: Argyle.
 Macdonald of Sleat.
 Clanranald's country.
 Literally—Of blue steel.
 Mac-Mhic-Alister, the patronymic of Glengary.
 Castle Brahan, Seaforth's seat.
 Gaelic—Barrels of liquor, properly bùidealan.