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most elegant poetical production that had up to that period come from the pen of any Scotsman in the English of Shakespeare. Hamilton's warm-heartedness tinged his thoughts with a romantic hue which has sometimes the aspect of insincerity, but it is rather because he mistook a momentary gush of affection for the subdued voice of reason. This accounts for the amatory vein in so much of his poetry. Like Don Quixote, a lady Dulcinea was indispensable to his inspiration, and he was continually under the spell of some fair enchantress, but, as Lord Woodhouselee appropriately remarked, “his passion generally evaporated in song,” and, one might add, without leaving any visible scar behind. Of the poems of Hamilton not devoted to love the most important is the “ Episode of the Thistle,” which appears to have been intended as part of a larger work never completed called “ The Flowers." It is in blank verse, and though the reader must be struck with the good humour and virility of many of the passages, it is not the medium adapted to his power. There exists in MS. a fragment of a poem by Hamilton not included in his published works called “The Maid of Gallowshiels.” It is an epic of the heroic-comic kind intended to celebrate a contest between a piper and a fiddler for the fair maid of Gallowshiels, and here again the author is Quixotic in his earnestness. This fragment is written in couplets, and manifests a power and sweep in its versification worthy of Pope. Hamilton's design was evidently to extend it to twelve books, but he only completed the first and a portion of the second. The second book opens with a trial of the piper's skill, and is characterised by much spirit and action. The following few lines will suffice to convey some idea of it :

“Now in his hand the artful bagpipe held,

Elate the piper wide surveys the field,
O’er all he throws his quick discerning cyes
And views their hopes and fears alternate rise."

“ The bursting sounds in narrow prisons pent

Rouse in their cells, loud rumbling for a vent,
Loud tempests now the deafen'd ear assail,
Now gently sweet is breath'd a sober gale,
As when the hawk his mountain nest forsakes,
Fierce for his prey his rustling wings he shakes ;

The air impell’d by th’ unharmonious shock,
Sounds clattering and abrupt through all the rock,
But as she flies, she shapes to smoother space
Her winnowing vanes, and swims the aerial space.

W. M‘J."

In the matter of seniority William Hamilton of Gilbertfield should have preceded his brother-poet of the same name, with

whom he has frequently been confounded. William Hamilton, Both of them were minor poets, but Hamilton


of Gilbertfield does not rank so high as Hamil

ton of Bangour, though the efforts of both were admired by Allan Ramsay. The former of the two and Ramsay entered into a reciprocation of metrical epistles with much kindly humour, and this is perhaps one of the principal reasons why oblivion has not concealed him from posterity long ere now in view of the comparative unimportance of his work as a whole. The author was the son of Hamilton of Ladylands, and when quite a young man he entered the army, where the only distinction he attained was the title of Lieutenant. He subsequently became one of the contributors to Watson's Choice Collections of Scots Poeins, and his principal productions are to be found there ; one of these, an Elegy on Habbie Simpson, the Piper of Kilbarchan, in which he indicates the strange custom of the piper playing behind the reapers in the harvest field. In 1722 Hamilton published an abridgement in modern Scottish of the life of Wallace by Blind Harry-a piece of work which has been unsparingly condemned by most critics as an unimportant, if not a useless, production. It matters little, however, what a critic says who is first in the field, he is usually too slavishly followed by those who come after him,and so it appears to be in this case. It was Hamilton's paraphrase of the Minstrel's “ Life of Wallace ” Burns is said to have read, and in a letter to Dr. Moore we find him saying—“The story of Wallace poured a tide of Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest.” The most popular poem of Hamilton's, however, is “ The Last Dying Words of Bonnie Heck,” his favourite hound, and displays both

humour and pathos. This elegy has been further celebrated by John Wilson, a later poetaster, in the following lines

“Where late gay Hamilton's facetious lay,

In rustic numbers hail'd returning May,
And bade the brakes of Andrie long resound
The plaintiff dirge that graced his favourite hound.”

Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, like William Hamilton of Bangour, was a man of learning and culture, though much less a poet than he.

In the polite and learned Sir John Clerk,

society of Edinburgh he was a well-known per1680-1755.

sonage, with an excellent reputation for letters, though distinction as a poet can scarcely be claimed for him. Judging from the few verses he has written, however, it is more than likely that if he had courted the favour of the Muses with earnestness and persistency he would have made a mark in poetry. As the literary genius of Scotland in the eighteenth century was not exclusively confined to poetry, but extended to every branch of science and belles lettres, the intellectual tendency of Sir John Clerk was in the direction of law and economics rather than poetry. On these subjects he wrote several treatises, which show what careful attention he had given them, though long since superseded by more elaborate works. His seventh son inherited some of his father's talents and becaine a distinguished authority on naval tactics, the complete and final edition of his work being published in 1804. The production by which Sir John Clerk is more particularly remembered, however, is a spirited song entitled “O Merry May the Maid be,” which clearly shows that he possessed the lyrical gift in a high degree. The author of the “Gentle Shepherd” was one of his chief literary friends, and he frequently entertained Allan Ramsay at his country seat. The song alluded to is included in Herd's “ Collection of Ancient and Modern Scots Songs.” The poets who have been noticed so far in the century under consideration were but the sparks of a poetical revival which preceded the larger flame so fully manifested in Allan Ramsay.

The author of the “Gentle Shepherd” was a man of true genuine literary tastes, but apart from this, he was less a poet born

than one made by circumstances. At the very Allan Ramsay, 1686-1758.

time he made his appearance the people of

Scotland were in the spirit and frame of mind to receive him, inasmuch as they were aspiring after a less conventional literary spirit and blyther mode of social life. Though Ramsay's genius does not touch the high-water mark of literary greatness he must be given the credit of leading the revival of the poetry of the eighteenth century, which had been at so low an ebb for well-nigh a century. On his father's side Ramsay was descended from an old Scottish family, the Ramsays of Dalhousie -a genealogy he refers to with pride in one of his pieces as

" Dalhousie of an auld descent,

My chief, my stoupe, and ornament." His mother, Alice Bower, on the other hand, was descended from a Derbyshire family of much respectability and solid character. The circumstances which resulted in the communion of the two spèrits are void of romance and consequently soon told. The father of Alice Bower was a man of exceptional engineering skill who was invited to Leadhills to give instruction in the art of mining ; thus Ramsay's father and mother became acquainted, looked into each other's eyes, saw affinity in their silent depths, and subsequently married. The poet was born of this union at Leadhills in 1686, which turned out to be a brief one. Soon after Allan was born his father died at the early age of twenty-five, leaving his wife but poorly provided for. She did not long remain a widow, but married for her second husband a small laird named Crichton of Lanarkshire, by whom she had several children. For about fifteen years Allan remained with his step-father and obtained his education at the parish school at Crawfordmoor, where he had evidently commenced the study of the classics, which could be attained in a parish school in Scotland even in his day. The assumption is, however, that Allan Ramsay had to leave school before he had made much progress in classical studies, for he himself informs us that he understood Horace

but faintly in the original. It is just possible, however, that this admission is not free from affectation since he showed in his later life that he understood and could paraphrase Horace with effect and skill. When about fifteen years of age, Ramsay's mother died, and his stepfather, having but a limited income and several other children to provide for, was anxious to see his stepson doing something towards his own support, and apprenticed him to wigmaking, which was a flourishing trade in Edinburgh at that time This was far from the profession to which his own inclinations would have led him ; his natural inclination was to the art of painting, but the want of means was the chief obstacle, and his stepfather did all he could to discourage it, inasmuch as this path to either wealth or fame was long, circuitous, and uncertain. It is ir.teresting to note that Ramsay's passion for art during his lifetime never became an extinct factor, and he encouraged his own son to take up the profession of art, which, as a portrait painter, he did not fail to adorn. It is gratifying to know that several years before the poet passed away he had the satisfaction of seeing his only surviving son, Allan, rising rapidly to distinction in this branch of art. It is true the son's reputation had not reached its zenith when his father died; but just nine years afterwards the son of the poet was appointed principal painter to the King, and for his work he could command high prices among connoisseurs of art.

For some time Ramsay combined wig-making, bookselling, and ballad making ; but his literary tastes and associations subsequently drew him into the more congenial occupations of bookselling and poetry exclusively. He also established a circulating library which was practically the first in Scotland. By means of this library he did much for the higher instruction of the people of Edinburgh, as he usually kept it stocked with the newest and best books. For a poet destined to exercise so great an influence on the literature of his country, the mantle of inspiration does not appear to have fallen upon Ramsay at a very early age. When he produced his first poem in 1711, he was nearly twenty-six years of age, and then it was in the form of an address to the most “ Happy Members of the Easy Club," of which he

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