« السابقةمتابعة »
hamlet of Raploch, at the north-west angle of the rock on which Stirling Castle guards the Forth. His parents were too poor to give him any education, and where he picked up the little stock of learning of which he made such ample use, it is impossible to tell. Being deformed in body, he was incapa
"Of witty jokes he had full store,
He had still something ne'er before
citated for most of the physical employ-"Hersell pe Highland shentleman,
ments open to people of his rank; and possibly from a love of using his observing faculties, he chose the profession of a travelling chapman. In some such capacity, and possibly impelled by his disposition, he joined the march of the Highland army in 1745, as it crossed the Fords of Frew, not far from his home; nor did he quit his post till the fatal April morning in 1746, when the hopes
Pe auld as Pothwell Prig, man;
Among te Lawland whig, man.
First when her to the Lawlands came,
The plaid prick't on her shouder ;
De pistol sharg'd wi' pouder.
But for whereas these cursed preeks,
Wherewith him's nerse be locket,
Pe turn'd to alteration;
Scotland be turn't a Ningland now,
of the Pretender were scattered on Culloden Moor. He then hastened home, and in September announced his Metrical History of the Rebellion, consisting of about 5000 lines, Hudibrastic metre, in the Glasgow Courier; and, as if conscious of the feat he performed (for he was then but twenty-two years of age), he added, "The like has not been done since the days of David Lindsay." Getting tired of his peregrinations as a travelling merchant, and having made a little money, Dougal set up a printing-Nainsell wad durk him for his deeds, office in the Saltmarket of Glasgow, and there commenced the printing of those facetious penny histories, which are to his poetry what Scott's novels are to his. Soon after this, he obtained the lucrative office of bellman to the city, and in this capacity was king of his craft. He died in 1779; and in an elegy lamenting his loss, the local Muse thus recalls his grotesque figure:
But, och! she fears te sodger.
Anither law came after dat,
Me never saw de like, man;
And ca' him Turnimspike, man.
Like Loudon corn-riggs, man;
They sharge a penny for ilka horse
(In troth they'll no pe sheaper ;) For naught put gaun upo' the crund, And they gie me a paper.
They tak the horse then by te head, And tere tey mak her stan', man: Me tell tem, me hae seen te day, Tey had na sic comman', man.
Nae doubt nainsell maun draw her purse,
But I'll awa to the Highland hills,
Having lost her father some years before, she entered the service of a minister in the neighbourhood, to whose books she was permitted to have access. The result was to excite in her an ambition to emulate the models in verse to which she was thus introduced. Her pieces are all short, and her subjects are classical, religious, or scriptural. The classical pieces are mostly addresses to the Muse, and in praise of the virtue of chastity as "To Lucretia ;" or "Ulyssuses and Penelope;" and denouncing its opposite, "To Cleopatra."
Among her scriptural pieces are very poor versions of some of the Psalms. Her best are blank verse sketches of the creation, &c., with "Reflections on the Fall," inspired by the study of Milton. We give this last as a specimen of her attainments. We also give "The Impartial Law of God in Nature," which may be supposed to refer to herself; and from which it is to be inferred that she read Pope.
Another characteristic piece is entitled "The Vulgar Estimate," in which she defends her devotion to the Muse somewhat sarcastically :
After making her appearance as an author, she opened a day-school for children, which does not appear to have been a success, partly, it would appear, from her ideas being too refined and fanciful for the practical matter-offact traders of Greenock. She is said
fore the more desirous that she should be known by what is undisputably her own. We give our views regarding the authorship of "There's nae Luck about the House" in a note prefixed to the song.
to have been so far in advance of her THE IMPARTIAL LAW OF GOD age, as to have introduced the reading of Shakespeare to her pupils; and so sensitive to his beauties, as to have fainted in reading Othello. It is also recorded that she walked to London to see
Richardson, the author of Clarissa; for which purpose she shut her school for six weeks. The truth of these reports of her eccentricities rests upon tradition; but, judging from the ideas which she ventilates in her poems, especially in her various addresses to the Muse, they are quite in character. And she must have been a character to whom we could have wished a kindlier lot than fortune had marked out for her. After her school had failed, it is said she became an itinerant merchant, still carrying her romantic notions into this uncongenial sphere. She broke down at last, but not till she was fairly exhausted; for she died on the 3d April 1765, the day after she was admitted as a "stranger' into the Glasgow Town Hospital.
Her "Miscellany Poems" is now very scarce, and the specimens given give a fair idea of its contents. They
also enable the reader to realize what Jean Adams was, better than any delineation of her. The beautiful national song of "There's nae Luck about the House" has been claimed as her composition, on grounds which to us seem very unsatisfactory; we are there
By way of insult thou inquires at me,
Thought fit to place me on a vale alone;
To light my lamp at the celestial fire.
I am as free as he to gain the prize
As much as he do I abhor offence.
REFLECTIONS ON THE FALL.
Thus was the costly ship humanity
Both built and launch'd into the sea of time,
When the bewitched siren reach'd his ear Soft were her notes, her numbers smooth and sweet.
Ten thousand beauties shone in every line;
Her theme seem'd worthy of the greatest soul.
Knowledge, the darling of the gods above, The only good prohibit here below! What happiness can be where thou art not?
What trade can flourish where thou dost not come?
Thou art the salt that heals the poison'd
'Tis thee that fructifies the barren soil;
And rigg'd and mann'd and laden to the Thy virtue raises man above the brutes,
With as much value of intrinsic worth,
And from the cable to the smallest cord
Th' imperial heights were level to his view, Nor could the depths of hell from him conceal.
Power was lieutenant, at whose high command,
With quick dispatch the heaven-born pas
All appetites were subject to his will. Freewill was captain, poor green-headed youth!
He could not long that dignity possess, Nor yet perform that mighty task alone. Few leagues from shore humanity had launch'd,
And sets him on a level with the gods.
Quick through the mind ran the devouring flame,
Whose veh'mence burnt all solid knowledge up:
Its rage brake through the limits of desire,
The hallowed vessels cast in divine mould
Which useless o'er the blackened pavement ran.
Strange havoc pride in human nature made,
True glory to false knowledge fell a prey,
But who would spare these toys to be a god?
And yet, alas! 'twas but a demi-god,
A cloud could ne'er sustain a mortal
But stay, my Muse, I quite forget my Confounded Freewill stood upon the shore, And saw the wealth of both the worlds
I did not find a side wind in my sail,
But sadly dream'd that, like humanity, Either my helm was broke, or I was pilotless:
But now th' auspicious gale is in my sail, The ocean smiles, the mist in kindness flies;
Come, get thee to the top, and thou shalt
Afar the grave of all our happiness.
On this inchanting isle 'twas first interr'd; From thence the sound of wisdom reach'd the ear,
Which innocence itself could not reject, Drunk with the thirst of knowledge and of rule,
Seized by despair upon the shore he stood,
When from behind the scene soft Mercy stept,
Her god-like form the eyes of all attracts, Her garments were of pure unspotted white,
Her eyes were flames of bright seraphic fire:
Upon her lips a divine sentence dwelt, Her accents warm'd the soul and charm'd the ear;
With jealous eye she views the settled beam
In which impartial justice weighs the cause,
Poor heedless Freewill leapt upon the Then calls to mind that Heaven's deshore,
crees are fix'd,
Nor dreams he walks upon forbidden | Next views the panel in a shower of tears. Unseen I stood, said she, to hear what past,
But views the magic circle with delight. Lo: here a Babel to himself he builds, To make himself an everlasting name, And fondly writes his epitaph in dust : For when prohibit knowledge felt the touch, Away it vanish'd like a cloud of smoke; No single mark of wisdom there was seen, But late posterity was left to read
In tears the lasting records of his folly. Here Freewill roves at large, and leaves his charge,
And own the sentence worthy of a god.
What strength have they thy anger to
Let all thy hidden vengeance fall on me.
When lo! just Heaven sends her plagues Within the bosom of the infinite.
The tempest rages both on sea and shore,
All order was in deep confusion lost.
No human power can his decree reverse.
He in effect hath called my balance false :