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We have lived all our lifetime contented, Then why should people brag of prosO,
Since the day we became first acquainted, A straitened life, we see, is no rarity, O;
And what farther could we wiss? And I hope we shall never need anither, O.
To be pleased wi' ourselves and be
What though we canna boast of our guineas, O,
We have plenty of Jockies and Jeanies, O;
And these, I'm certain, are
More desirable by far,
Than a pock full of poor yellow steenies, O. We have seen many a wonder and ferlie, O,
Of changes that almost are yearlie, O, Among rich folks up and down, Both in country and in town, Who now live but scrimply and barely, O.
And when we leave this poor habitation, O,
We'll depart with a good commendation, O;
We'll go hand in hand, I wiss, To a better house than this, To make room for the next generation, O.
Then why should old age so much wound us, O?
There is nothing in't all to confound us, O;
JOHN HOME, although the writer of eight other tragedies and comedies, besides an account of the rebellion of 1745, (known to students of Scottish history as of little value), is only remembered as the author of Douglas. It is one of the few dramatic essays on a Scottish subject; yet Macbeth proves
that Scottish history affords a worthy field for genius to exercise its highest powers upon.
Home was a descendant of a scion of the Earls of Home, a family that has given several names to literature. His father was town-clerk of Leith; and here the poet was born in 1722. He
was educated at the University of Edinburgh for the ministry of the Church of Scotland; and while a probationer, took part as a volunteer, in the rebellion of 1745-6, on the royal side. He was present at the Battle of Falkirk, and, being taken prisoner, was confined in Doune Castle, from which however he contrived to make his escape with some others, by means of their blankets used as ropes.
In 1746, he was appointed parish minister of Athelstaneford, as the successor of Blair, the author of The Grave.
His first attempt in literature was a tragedy entitled Agis, written in 1749, with which he proceeded to London, in the hope of getting Garrick to produce it at Drury Lane Theatre. In this he was not successful; yet though temporarily discouraged, he did not despair; and, having in 1755 produced Douglas, he again repaired to London, but met with a similar reception from Garrick, who pronounced his tragedy unfit for the stage.
In 1756, he got it produced in the Canongate theatre, Edinburgh, and it became immensely popular. Yet the production of a play for the theatre reckoned by the religious community of Scotland as the "Synagogue of Satan" -however harmless, or even pure, was too much for the temper of the Presbytery, and Home was obliged to resign his charge, while some of his ministerial friends, who had gone to see Douglas acted, incurred the censure of the Church.
Deprived of his living, Home again repaired to London, and, through the influence of Lord Bute, got Douglas re
presented at Drury Lane, where it met with such a hearty reception that Garrick now consented to produce Agishimself and Mrs Cibber taking the chief characters. The Siege of Aquileia was Home's next production for the stage, but it failed to interest the public.
In 1760, he published his tragedies, in a volume dedicated to the Prince of Wales, to whom he was introduced by his friend Lord Bute; and through the same medium he obtained a pension of £300 a-year, besides the office of conservator of Scots privileges at Campvere, with a salary of £300 per annum.
In 1779, he returned to Edinburgh, where he mixed in the best society, and enjoyed the friendship of the distinguished literary men who then adorned the Scottish capital. The History of the Rebellion was his last work. Having outlived all his literary associates, he died in 1808, at the ripe age of eighty-six, and was buried at Leith.
Douglas, on which Home's literary fame alone depends, is founded on the ballad of "Gil Morice," and when first acted in the Canongate theatre, what is now Lady Randolph, was then Lady Barnard. The change had been made on its production at Drury Lane. As a dramatic performance it is of little account, being properly a poem in a dramatized form, and fitter for recitation than for being acted; indeed, its declamatory speeches, viewed as a poem, are its chief beauties; but their oratorical tendency, due to the prevailing style of the times, is a weakness. We give an analysis of the story, and favourable specimens of the poetry; and add the ballad of "Gil Morice," of which Home
has made but a limited and legitimate Douglas, she resolved to keep him igno
A collected edition of Home's works, with a life by Henry Mackenzie, the "Man of Feeling," was published in three volumes, Edinburgh, 1822.
THE STORY OF THE TRAGEDY
IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.
rant of her connection with it. She arranged to have her child concealed till her father's death should put her in possession of his estates. To this end she entrusted it to a confidential servant, to have it brought up as her sister's son. The nurse employed to carry the child to its new home was overtaken by a storm on the way, and in crossing the Carron was drowned. Her cries were heard by Norval, a tenant of Sir ONE of those inveterate family feuds, Malcolm's, who reached the river in like that which forms the groundwork of time to save the child floating in a Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, existed basket. Concealed amongst its clothes between the Douglasses of Liddesdale were some rich family jewels, and a sum and (we shall assume) the Graemes of of money. With the wealth thus acTeviotdale; for the Graemes of Stir- quired, Norval removed northward to the lingshire came at an early date from the Grampian Hills, and bought flocks and Borders, about the reign of Alexander herds; but his family all died, and young III., the assumed date of the tragedy. | Douglas, who was brought up as his The feud was kept up, notwithstanding own son, alone survived. the removal of the Graemes into Stirlingshire.
In one of the battles of the time, the son and heir of Sir Malcolm Graeme saved the life of the son of Douglas, an event which led to the closest secret friendship between the young men. Douglas visited Graeme at Balarmo, his father's seat on the Carron Water, under an assumed name; and here Matilda Graeme and he fell in love, and got secretly married, her brother and the priest only being privy to the secret. Shortly after, both young warriors, accompanied by the priest, left for the wars, and all fell in the same battle.
Lady Douglas, now Sir Malcolm's heir, and the last of her race, about the same time gave birth to a son, and knowing her father's hatred of the house of
In their neighbourhood lived a hermit, who in his youth fought in Palestine, and loved to relate his warlike exploits to young Norval, and instruct him in the art of war. So well did he profit by the hermit's instructions, that when a robber horde attacked their flocks, he slew their chief, and stript him of his arms, which so elated him that, having heard that a Danish invasion was imminent, he resolved to join his countrymen in repelling the invaders. Accompanied by his assumed father, he started for the Scottish camp.
His mother, meanwhile, plunged in the deepest sorrow for the loss of her husband and child, affected to mourn her brother's early fate; and her father, Sir Malcolm, anxious to see her married before his death, she accepted Lord Ran
How far I have succeeded now, I know not;
Yet I incline to think her stormy virtue
And amity, uncertain is my tenure.
By that weak hair, a peevish female's will.
I show'd him gold, and he has pawn'd his soul
To say and swear whatever I suggest. Norval, I'm told, has that alluring look, 'Twixt man and woman, which I have observed
To charm the nicer and fantastic dames, Who are, like Lady Randolph, full of virtue.
In raising Randolph's jealousy, I may But point him to the truth. He seldom
Who thinks the worst he can of womankind.
[HOW DOUGLAS LEARNED THE ART OF WAR.]
Small is the skill my lord delights to praise
In him he favours. Hear from whence it
Beneath a mountain's brow, the most
And inaccessible, by shepherds trod,
Austere and lonely, cruel to himself,
Water his drink, his food the shepherd's alms.
I went to see him, and my heart was touch'd
With reverence and pity. Mild he spake. And, entering on discourse, such stories
As made me oft revisit his sad cell :
Of Europe, by the bold Godfredo led, Against the usurping Infidel displayed The blessed cross, and won the Holy Land.
Pleased with my admiration, and the fire His speech struck from me, the old man would shake
His years away, and act his young en
Then, having showed his wounds, he'd sit him down,
And all the live-long day discourse of war. To help my fancy, in the smooth green
He cut the figures of the marshalled hosts; Described the motions, and explained the
Of the deep column, and the lengthened line,
The square, the crescent, and the phalanx firm:
For all that Saracen or Christian knew
[THE QUARREL OF DOUGLAS AND
His port I love: he's in a proper mood To chide the thunder, if at him it roar'd. Has Norval seen the troops?
The setting sun,
With yellow radiance lightened all the vale,