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Something of a national as well as a patriotic character may be claimed for the lively song of Tullochgorum, the composition of the Rev. JOHN SKINNER (1721-1807), who inspired some of the strains of Burns, and who delighted, in life as in his poetry, to diffuse feelings of kindliness and good will among men. Mr Skinner officiated as Episcopal minister of Longside, Aberdeenshire, for sixty-five years. After the troubled period of the Rebellion of 1745, when the Episcopal clergy of Scotland laboured under the charge of disaffection, Skinner was imprisoned six months for preaching to more than four persons! He died in his son's house at Aberdeen, having realised his wish of seeing once more his children's grandchildren, and peace upon Israel.' Besides Tullochgorum,' and other songs, Skinner wrote an Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, and some theological treatises.
Come gie's a sang, Montgomery cried,
For what's been done before them?
To drop their Whigmegmorum.
To spend this night with mirth and glee, And cheerfu' sing alang wi' me
The reel of Tullochgorum.
O, Tullochgorum's my delight; gars us a' in ane unite;
And ony sumph that keeps up spite,
And mak' a cheerfu quorum.
The reel of Tullochgorum.
For half a hundred score o' 'em.
Like auld Philosophorum ? Shall we sae sour and sulky sit, Wi' neither sense, nor mirth, nor wit, And canna rise to shake a fit
At the reel of Tullochgorum? May choicest blessings still attend Each honest-hearted open friend; And calm and quiet be his end,
And a' that's good watch o'er him!
May peace and plenty be his lot,
And dainties, a great store o' 'em!
But for the discontented fool,
And discontent devour him!
And nane say, Wae's me for 'im! May dool and sorrow be his chance, And a' the ills that come frae France, Whae'er he be that winna dance The reel of Tullochgorum!
ROBERT CRAWFORD, author of The Bush aboon Traquair, and the still finer lyric of Tweedside, was the brother of Colonel Crawford of Achinames. assisted Allan Ramsay in his 'Tea-Table Miscellany,' and, according to information obtained by Burns, was drowned in coming from France in the year 1733. Crawford had genuine poetical fancy and expression. The true muse of native pastoral,' says Allan Cunningham, seeks not to adorn herself with unnatural ornaments; her spirit is in homely love and fireside joy; tender and simple, like the religion of the land, she utters nothing out of keeping with the character of her people, and the aspect of the soil; and of this spirit, and of this feeling, Crawford is a large partaker.'
The Bush aboon Traquair.
Hear me, ye nymphs, and every swain,
At the bonnie Bush aboon Traquair,
That day she smiled and made me glad,
I thought myself the luckiest lad,
I tried to soothe my amorous flame,
Yet now she scornful flees the plain,
If e'er we meet she shows disdain,
The bonnie bush bloomed fair in May,
Ye rural powers, who hear my strains,
I'll leave the Bush aboon Traquair-
What beauties does Flora disclose !
Not all the gay flowers of the field,
The linnet, the lark, and the thrush;
Let us see how the primroses spring;
While happily she lies asleep?
'Tis she does the virgins excel;
No beauty with her may compare; Love's graces around her do dwell;
She's fairest where thousands are fair. Say, charmer, where do thy flocks stray? Oh, tell me at morn where they feed? Shall I seek them on sweet-winding Tay? Or the pleasanter banks of the Tweed?
SIR GILBERT ELLIOT.
ners, a nice perception of the ludicrous, a vein of original comic humour, and language at once copious and expressive, form his chief merits as a poet. He had not the invention or picturesque fancy of Allan Ramsay, nor the energy and passion of Burns. His mind was a light warm soil, that threw up early its native products, sown by chance or little exertion; but it had not strength and tenacity to nurture any great or valuable production. A few short years, however, comprised his span of literature and of life; and criticism would be ill employed in scrutinising with severity the occasional poems of a youth of twenty-three, written from momentary feelings and impulses, amidst professional drudgery or midnight dissipation. That compositions produced under such circumstances should still exist and be read with pleasure, is sufficient to show that Fergusson must have had the eye and fancy of a true poet. His observation, too, for one so young, is as remarkable as his genius: he was an accurate painter of scenes of real life and traits of Scottish character, and his pictures are valuable for their truth, as well as for their liveliness and humour. If his habits had been different, we might have possessed more agreeable delineations, but none more graphic or faithful. Fergusson was born in Edinburgh on the 17th of October 1751. His father, who was an accountant in the British Linen Company's bank, died early, but the poet received a university education, having obtained a bursary in St Andrews, where he continued from his thirteenth to his seventeenth year. On quitting college, he seems to have been truly unfitted with an aim,' and he was glad to take employment as a copying clerk in a lawyer's office. In this mechanical and irksome duty his days were spent. His evenings were devoted to the tavern, where, over 'caller oysters,' with ale or whisky, the choice spirits of Edinburgh used to assemble. Fergusson had dangerous qualifications for such a life. His conversational powers were of a very superior description, and he could adapt them at will to humour, pathos, or sarcasm, as the occasion might require. He was well educated, had a fund of youthful gaiety, and sung Scottish songs with taste and effect. To these qualifications he soon added the reputation of a poet. Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine' had been commenced in 1768, and was the chosen receptacle for the floating literature of that period in Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh. During the two last years of his life, Fergusson was a constant contributor to this miscellany, and in 1773 he collected and published his pieces in one volume. Of the success of the publication in a pecuniary point of view, we have no information; but that it was well received by the public, there can be no doubt, from the popularity and fame of its author. His dissipations, however, were always on the increase. His tavern life and boon companions were hastening him on to a premature and painful death. His reason first gave way, and his widowed mother being unable to maintain him at home, he was sent to an asylum for the insane. The religious impressions of his youth returned at times to overwhelm him with dread, but his gentle and affectionate nature was easily soothed by the attentions of his relatives and friends. His recovery was anticipated, but after about two months' confinement, he died in his cell on the 16th of October 1774. His remains were interred in the Canongate churchyard, where they lay unnoticed for twelve years, till Burns erected a simple stone to mark the poet's grave. The heartlessness of convivial friendROBERT FERGUSSON was the poet of Scottish city-ships is well known: they literally wither and die life, or rather the laureate of Edinburgh. A happy in a day.' It is related, however, that a youthful talent of portraying the peculiarities of local man- companion of Fergusson, named Burnet, having
SIR GILBERT ELLIOT, author of what Sir Walter Scott calls the beautiful pastoral song,' beginning
My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep-hook, was father of the first Earl of Minto, and was distinguished as a speaker in parliament. He was in 1763 treasurer of the navy, and afterwards keeper of the signet in Scotland. He died in 1777. Mr Tytler of Woodhouselee says, that Sir Gilbert Elliot, who had been taught the German flute in France, was the first who introduced that instrument into Scotland, about the year 1725.
My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep-hook,
gone to the East Indies, and made some money, invited over the poet, sending at the same time a draught for £100 to defray his expenses. This instance of generosity came too late: the poor poet had died before the letter arrived.
Falconer or Logan (he received the same education as the latter), his inferior rank as a general poet will be apparent.
Fergusson may be considered the poetical progenitor of Burns. Meeting with his poems in his youth, the latter strung his lyre anew,' and copied the style and subjects of his youthful prototype. The resemblance, however, was only temporary and incidental. Burns had a manner of his own, and though he sometimes condescended, like Shakspeare, to work after inferior models, all that was rich and valuable in the composition was original and unborrowed. He had an excessive admiration for the writings of Fergusson, and even preferred them to those of Ramsay, an opinion in which few will concur. The forte of Fergusson lay, as we have stated, in his representations of town-life. The King's Birthday, The Sitting of the Session, Leith Races, &c., are all excellent. Still better is his feeling description of the importance of Guid Braid Claith, and his Address to the Tron-Kirk Bell. In these we have a current of humorous observations, poetical fancy, and genuine idiomatic Scottish expression. Farmer's Ingle suggested The Cotter's Saturday Night' of Burns, and it is as faithful in its descriptions, though of a humbler class. Burns added passion, sentiment, and patriotism to the subject: Fergusson's is a mere sketch, an inventory of a farm-house, unless we except the concluding stanza, which speaks to the heart:
Peace to the husbandman, and a' his tribe,
Whase care fells a' our wants frae year to year! Lang may his sock and cou'ter turn the glebe, And banks of corn bend down wi' laded ear! May Scotia's simmers aye look gay and green; Her yellow hairsts frae scowry blasts decreed ! May a' her tenants sit fu' snug and bien,
Frae the hard grip o' ails and poortith freedAnd a lang lasting train o' peacefu' hours succeed!
In one department-lyrical poetry-whence Burns draws so much of his glory-Fergusson does not seem, though a singer, to have made any efforts to excel. In English poetry he utterly failed, and if we consider him in reference to his countrymen,
Ye wha are fain to hae your name
To laurelled wreath,
But hap ye weel, baith back and wame,
He that some ells o' this may fa',
When beinly clad wi' shell fu' braw
Waesucks for him wha has nae feck o't!
Till his four quarters are bedeckit
On Sabbath-days the barber spark,
Gangs trigly, faith!
Or to the Meadows, or the Park,
Would be right laith,
In guid braid claith.
If ony mettled stirrah green1
In short, you may be what you please,
For though ye had as wise a snout on,
Till they could see ye wi' a suit on
To the Tron-Kirk Bell. Wanwordy, crazy, dinsome thing, As e'er was framed to jow or ring! What gar'd them sic in steeple hing, They ken themsel; But weel wat I, they couldna bring Waur sounds frae hell.
Fleece-merchants may look bauld, I trow,
And keep it frae gaun through and through
Your noisy tongue, there's nae abidin't;
To deave me, then, ye tak a pride in't,
Oh! were I provost o' the town,
Nor should you think (Sae sair I'd crack and clour your crown) Again to clink.
For, when I've toom'd the meikle cap,
That gies the tither weary chap
I dreamt ae night I saw Auld Nick:
A cunnin' snare,
To trap fouk in a cloven stick,
Ere they're aware.
And then, I trow,
The byword hauds, 'The diel himsel
Scottish Scenery and Music.
The Arno and the Tiber lang
Or are their shores mair sweet and gay
Come, Fancy! come, and let us tread
That, ta'en wi' thy enchanting sang,
O Bangour! now the hills and dales
Who mourned her fate, condoled her woes.
When father Adie first pat spade in
Nor did he thole his wife's upbraidin',
A cauler burn o' siller sheen,
Ran cannily out-owre the green;
And when our gutcher's drouth had been
He loutit down, and drank bedeen
His bairns had a', before the flood,
Wha still hae been a feckless brood,
The fuddlin' bardies, now-a-days,
While each his sea of wine displays
My Muse will no gang far frae hame,
This is the name that doctors use,
Though joints be stiff as ony rung,
Out-owre the lugs,
"Twill mak you souple, swack, and young,
1 Mr Hamilton of Bangour, author of the beautiful ballad 'The Braes of Yarrow.'
Though cholic or the heart-scad teaze us;
That would ye spulzie,
Were't no for it, the bonnie lasses
In gleefu' looks, and bonnie faces,
The fairest, then, might die a maid,
As simmer rains bring simmer flowers,
As for estate, or heavy dowers,
Aft stands in room.
[A Sunday in Edinburgh.]
[From Auld Reekie.']
On Sunday, here, an altered scene
1 St Anthony's Well, a beautiful small spring, on Arthur's Seat, near Edinburgh. Thither it is still the practice of young Edinburgh maidens to resort on May-day.
Newhaven, Leith, or Canonmills,
Or should some cankered biting shower The day and a' her sweets deflower, To Holyrood-house let me stray, And gie to musing a' the day; Lamenting what auld Scotland knew, Bein days for ever frae her view. O Hamilton, for shame! the Muse Would pay to thee her couthy vows, Gin ye wad tent the humble strain, And gie's our dignity again! For, oh, wae's me! the thistle springs In domicile o' ancient kings, Without a patriot to regret
Our palace and our ancient state.
MISCELLANEOUS POEMS OF THE PERIOD 1727-1780.
[By Richard West-written at the age of twenty. This amiable poet died in his twenty-sixth year, 1742.]
Yes, happy youths, on Camus' sedgy side,
Just Heaven! what sin ere life begins to bloom,