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SIR JOHN CLERK.
There is no better evidence of the The first stanza is taken from an older general prevalence of the poetic tem- song, and gives the key note. The perament among the people of Scotland candour with which a regard for the than the number of what may be ways and means of domestic comfort termed her one poem poets. By this is avowed, as a leading consideration term we mean poets who produced in our old love songs, would almost single poems of lasting merit, and who, imply that in this, as in some other but for a certain indolence of the poetic things, we had taken lessons from our faculty, might have produced more if old allies the French. “The Miller" is they had made the effort.
an excellent representative of this class Sir John Clerk, second baronet of of songs. Penicuik, is one of these.
THE MILLER. born in 1680, and succeeded his father in the title and estates in 1722. As : MERRY may the maid be
That marries the miller, early as 1708, he was appointed one of
For foul day or fair day the Barons of Exchequer in Scotland. He was one of the most accomplished Has aye a penny in his purse
He's aye bringing till her ; men of his time, and carried on a
For dinner and for supper ; learned correspondence with the English And gin she please, a good fat cheese, antiquary, Roger Gale, for about
And lumps o' yellow butter. twenty years. Along with Baron Scrope, he wrote An Historical View of the When Jamie first did woo me, Forms and Powers of the Court of Fair maid, says he, O come and see,
I spier'd what was his calling : Exchequer in Scotland.
He was a
Ye're welcome to my dwelling. great friend of Allan Ramsay, and being Though I was shy, yet I cou'd spy himself a poet, knew how to estimate
The truth of what he told me, Allan's genius. Sir John died in 1755, And that his house was warm and cout", and was succeeded by his son Sir James And room in it to hold me. Clerk, who raised an obelisk to Ramsay's
Behind the door a bag o' meal, memory in the grounds of Penicuik
And in the kist was plenty House, with a Latin inscription record
O' good hard cakes his mither bakes, ing his own and his father's esteem for
And bannocks were na scanty ; the poet's genius and worth.
A good fat sow, a sleeky cow Sir John's song of “The Miller"
Was standing in the byre ; first appeared in The Charmer in 1751, Whilst lazy puss with mealy mou and has since retained its popularity. Was playing at the fire.
Good signs are these, my mither says,
And bids me tak the miller ;
He's aye bringing till her ;
Nor ony thing that's dainty ;
To lay her eggs in plenty.
In winter when the wind and rain
Blaw's o'er the house and byre,
Before a rousing fire ;
Which rows him o'er fu' nappy :
When a miller lives so happy ?
ROBERT CRAWFORD, whose best
TWEEDSIDE. known pieces are "The Bush aboon Tra
WHAT beauties does Flora disclose ! quair” and “Tweedside,” was born in
How sweet are her smiles upon Tweed ! Ayrshire about 1690. He was the second Yet Mary's, still sweeter than those, son of Patrick Crawford of Drumsoy,
Both nature and fancy exceed. his mother being a daughter of Gordon Nor daisy nor sweet-blushing rose, of Turnberry. Allan Ramsay, in the Not all the gay flowers of the field, preface to the second volume of the Tea- Not Tweed gliding gently through those, Table Miscellany, says that about thirty Such beauty and pleasure does yield. of the songs were contributed “hy some ingenious young gentlemen,” who The warblers are heard in the grove, were pleased with his undertaking. The linnet, the lark, and the thrush, Crawford is said to have been one of The blackbird and sweet-cooing dove, them. He appears to have spent a
With music enchant ev'ry bush. considerable portion of his life in Come, let us go forth to the mead,
Let us see how the primroses spring ; France, and was on his way home from
We'll lodge in some village on Tweed, that country in 1733, when he was
And love while the feather'd folks sing. drowned. His foreign residence may account for the paucity of the particulars of his life that have been preserved.
How does my love pass the long day?
Does Mary not tend a few sheep? His poetry is characterised by an
Do they never carelessly stray, easy flow of natural and unstrained
While happily she lies asleep? thought, and a pleasing variation of Should Tweed's murmurs lull her to rest, pastoral images and observations, con- Kind nature indulging my bliss, veyed in simple but refined language, To relieve the soft pains of my breast, slightly tinged with the vernacular. I'd steal an ambrosial kiss.
'Tis she does the virgins excel,
Our years around, with love thus, crown'd, No beauty with her may compare ; From all things joy shall borrow : Love's graces all round her do dwell, Thus none shall be more blest than we,
She's fairest where thousands are fair. On Leader Haughs and Yarrow. Say, charmer, where do thy flocks stray?
Oh ! tell me at noon where they feed ? O, sweetest Sue! 'tis only you
To grant this best of blisses.
Would blast me in the blossom :
But if thou shine and make me thine,
I'll flourish in thy bosom. The morn was fair, saft was the air,
All nature's sweets were springing ; Then buds did bow with silver dew,
Ten thousand birds were singing ; When on the bent' with blythe content,
THE BUSH ABOON TRAQUAIR. Young Jamie sang his marrow, 2 Nae bonnier lass e'er trod the grass HEAR me, ye nymphs, and every swain, On Leader Haughs and Yarrow.
I'll tell how Peggy grieves me;
Tho' thus I languish, thus complain, How sweet her face, where every grace
Alas! she ne'er believes me. In heav'nly beauty's planted !
My vows and sighs, like silent air, Her smiling een and comely mein,
Unheeded, never move her ; That nae perfection wanted.
At the bonnie bush aboon Traquair, I'll never fret nor bann my fate,
'Twas there I first did love her. But bless my bonnie marrow : If her dear smile my doubts beguile,
That day she smiled, and made me glad, My mind shall ken nae sorrow.
No maid seem'd ever kinder; Yet though she's fair, and has full share I thought myself the luckiest lad, Of every charm enchanting,
So sweetly there to find her. Each good turns ill, and soon will kill I tried to sooth my amorous flame Poor me, if love be wanting.
In words that I thought tender ; O, bonnie lass ! have but the grace
If more there pass’d, I'm not to blame, To think ere ye gae further,
I meant not to offend her.
Yet now she scornful flees the plain,
The fields we then frequented ; My wand'ring ghaist will ne'er get rest, If e'er we meet, she shows disdain, And day and night affright ye ;
She looks as ne'er acquainted. But if ye're kind, with joyful mind, The bonnie bush bloom'd fair in May, I'll study to delight ye.
Its sweets I'll aye remember ;
But now her frowns make it decay, i Pasturage.
It fades as in December.
1699-1784. The stimulus given to Scottish cardine O'Neil, Aberdeenshire, and was poetry by Ramsay's “Gentle Shepherd,” born at Torphins, on the 16th April 1699. happily produced its most successful | He was early sent to the parish school, results in a district whose manners, where he received a good education ; language, and scenery, though quite as and at the age of fourteen was entered pastoral, differed greatly from the at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where romantic valley of the North Esk; yet, he won a bursary, payable for four by a curious coincidence, having two years. He remained at college till the rivers corresponding in name with expiry of his bursary, in 1718, and took those of Midlothian-North and South his degree of M.A. He then obtained Esk.
the situation of tutor in the family of “Helenore,” Ross's chief poem, resem- Sir William Forbes of Craigievar. On bles Ramsay's in little more than the the completion of his engagement, Sir sub-title—the "Fortunate Shepherdess,” | William, who was pleased with his -in its purely pastoral character, and in services, promised him a presentationbeing a repository of the dialect of the of which he had fourteen in his gift-if locality in which its scenes are laid. he prosecuted his divinity studies. In structure and treatment the two Notwithstanding this encouragement, poems differ entirely; and in both re- Ross did not return to college, but became spects Ramsay's is much the superior. a teacher at Aboyne, in his native disYet Ross's pastoral, besides its general | trict of Deeside, for some time. From poetical excellence, has the special merit | Aboyne he removed to Laurencekirk, of being a faithful exponent of the where he became acquainted with the thoughts and manners of as interesting, father of Beattie, the author of The though a less known type of Scottish Minstrel. character, as that delineated in Ramsay's In 1726, he married Jane Catanach, more genial and picturesquely varied the daughter of a farmer in his native representation of rural life.
parish. She was a Roman Catholic in Alexander Ross was the son of religion, but their family was brought Andrew Ross, a small farmer in Kin- up as Protestants, and their difference
of creed does not appear to have in any of his character, his self-respect, and way interrupted the happiness of their the urbanity of his manners. married life.
In this uneventful, yet happy manner, In 1732 he was appointed teacher of his life passed on, till in his sixty. the parish school of Lochlee, in the seventh year, when, requiring to go to valley of the South Esk, and in this Aberdeen on business, the idea struck sequestered but romantic glen he passed him of taking his manuscripts along the rest of his days, in the quiet and with him. The son of his friend Beattie unambitious, but conscientious dis- of Laurencekirk, long since dead, was charge of the monotonous duties of his now professor of moral philosophy in small school, varied by those of session- Aberdeen ; and though The Minstrel clerk and precentor. He also qualified did not appear till two years after, he as a notary-public, but it'is unlikely that was known as a poet and elegant the demands upon his time in this essayist—and Ross resolved to submit capacity were either many or remuner- his manuscripts to his cultivated judgative. His money income, from all
Beattie was favourably im. sources, did not much exceed twenty pressed with the poems and their pounds a-year, besides a free house; yet, author, and advised the publication of considering the fewness of his wants, and “ Helenore” and a few of the songs. several perquisites in kind, with six In 1768 the volume made its appearance acres of grazing and arable land, and at Aberdeen, and met with gratifying an unlimited supply of peat fuel, his
Beattie, to give it a lift, wrote circumstances present nothing to excite an anonymous letter, and his only our commiseration. Indeed, few poets specimen of Scotch vernacular poetry, have enjoyed a more equable share of to the printer of the Aberdeen Journal. happiness, and endured less of the Ross's preface, which is modest enough, cankering cares incident to the battle and somewhat prolix, informs us that of life. Nothing that he has written the MS. lay beside him for many years, bears the slightest trace of discontent. and that copies of it having got into
His leisure time he divided between circulation, one of the gentlemen who poetry and classical translation from the thus read it wrote him urging its Latin, and the lighter relaxations of publication. He cleared £20 by the practising on the violin and angling. venture. He continued his practice of translation In 1778 Ross resolved to bring out a from an early date, and wrote most of second edition, which he carefully his poems long before the idea of pub- revised. It was dedicated to the famous lication occurred to him. His songs Duchess of Gordon, and contains and other poems had a local fame, and “Bydby's Dream,” his finest imaginative appear to have been familiar to several | sketch, which he must have written in persons of taste and influence in the the interval between the two editions. neighbourhood, whose friendship and On its publication, having received an esteem he retained by the simplicity I invitation to Gordon Castle, he resolved