Obrázky na stránke

tower of strength to her, without which life's journey would be divested of all its charm, becoming lonely and unattractive. It is to Patie's credit, too, that he is man enough not to treat with indifference or ingratitude such confidence and admiration. To illustrate the sincerity of his passion he embraces Peggy, and is made to say :—

"O charmin' armfu' ! hence ye cares away,
I'll kiss my treasure a' the live lang day,
All night I'll dream my kisses o'er again,
Till that day come that ye'll be a' my ain."

Then the impassioned lovers join hands and sing together in the full flow of their innocent hearts i

"Sun gallop down the westlin' skies,
Gang soon to bed and quickly rise,
O'lash your steeds, post time away,
And haste about our bridal-day,
An' if ye're wearied, honest light,
Sleep, gin ye like, a week that night."

Ramsay, true to the literary expression of the century in which he wrote, rewards honour and virtue, and the characters and incidents have a happy ending; this is especially so in "The Gentle Shepherd." Even poor, broken-hearted Roger at last succeeds in captivating his "scornfu' queen," by bracing his mind and acting on Patie's advice. He is quite overjoyed at his success, and expresses his amazement at Patie's superior knowledge and insight into human nature.

"Lord, man, I wonder ay, and it delights

My heart, when'er I hearken to your flights,
How gat ye a' that sense, I fain wad lear
That I might easier disappointments bear ?"

To which Patie makes the following reply :

"Frae books, the wale of books, I gat some skill,
These best can teach what's real good and ill,

Ne'er grudge ilk year to ware some stanes o' cheese
To gain these silent friends that ever please.'


Rodger is determined to further act on Patie's advice, which has proved of so much advantage to him in his love affairs, and expresses himself thus

"I'll do't, and ye shall tell me which to buy,

Faith I'se hae books, tho' I should sell my kye."

The "Gentle Shepherd " is well worth careful perusal, as it is the original growth of the Arcadia of Scotland and the most faithful representation of Lowland life and manners to be found in any other poem in the language. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that it still remains one of the finest pastorals in any language. The realistic descriptions of rustic manners and rural scenes depicted in the "Gentle Shepherd" has determined the true sphere of Ramsay's genius in the mind of posterity. Nor does he appear to have entered the field of pastoral drama in any spirit of rivalry with those who may have previously occupied it. Yet all unconsciously he entered a sphere in which he fairly competes with Pope, in addition to showing what powerful effects may be produced by developing nature within her own dominion. In 1728, three years after he produced the "Gentle Shepherd," Ramsay published a second volume of his poems and in 1730 his "Thirty Fables," of which he formed an exaggerated estimate which pos terity has refused to endorse. With these his poetical labours appear to have ceased, and during the twenty-eight years which remained to him he lived in philosophic ease and retirement. As a song-writer, Ramsay does not rank high; the greater number of his productions of this class lack the fervour and soul-stirring energy of most of those of Burns and Tannahill. Indeed, most of his songs are marred by a want of good taste and that high seriousness which Matthew Arnold claims is essential to the classical spirit. Even "Lochaber No More," the most exquisite of all his lyrics is marred by these defects. The "Gentle Shepherd," on the other hand, has been an epoch-making work, and the one by which Ramsay's reputation will withstand the test of time. It was his sincerest hope that he might one day be classed with Tasso and Gaurini, his two favourite Italian poets; and up to the present posterity has not denied him that exalted position. The "Tea-Table Miscellany" is designated "A Choice Collection of Scottish and English Song," but comparatively few of the new songs are written in the vernacular except those by Ramsay him

self, even when the theme and its chief associations are distinctly Scotch.

Whatever might be urged against this collection as an authoritative one, it must be admitted that the "Tea Table Miscellany" was a useful medium for those who had either the gift of song or the love of it to embellish its pages with contributions original or otherwise, and one of the most distinguished con tributors was Robert Crawford. Though a poet who must be placed among the minors, Crawford exhibits a spontaneity and grace in the few pieces that came from his pen which is sometimes absent in the writings of those who have commanded greater distinction. To the "Tea Table Miscellany" he contributed four songs—“The Bush Abune Traquair,” ""The Broom of the Cowdenknowes," "One Day I heard Mary say," and "My Deerie if Thou Dee." Little is known of the life of Crawford

Robert Crawford, 1695-1732.

except that he was a young man of attractive appearance, with refinement and accomplishments far above the average. He was the second son of Patrick Crawford of Drumsoy, and spent several years with his brother in France, who was Secretary to the Embassy to France under Lord Stair, but was subsequently appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the French Court. The poet died in 1732 on his way home to Scotland at the early age of 37. In addition to his contributions to the "TeaTable Miscellany," he contributed three songs to the "Orpheus Caledonius," viz., "Tweedside," which was anticipated by Lord Yester "; "Doun the Burn, Davie lad," and "The Bonniest Lass in a' the Warld." "Tweedside" is perhaps the best known of the three, and has been vastly over-estimated, probably on account of the subject; the other two are productions of considerable merit. "Doun the Burn, Davie" shows that the author was not without the gift of humour. The subjects only are Scottish; the language employed is almost pure English, and they show beyond question that Crawford had much of the true poetic spirit which entitle him to a passing notice apart from his connection with the "Tea-Table Miscellany."



THE question has often been asked, and continues to be asked, why Burns's Monument came to be erected where it now stands on the banks of the Doon between " Alloway Kirk" and "The Auld Brig o' Doon," and not adjacent to the poet's birth-place, where it might have been expected to be put. It is a fact, now almost quite forgotten, that the site for the monument was all but chosen on the ground that formed the small property purchased by Burns's father in 1756, and on which he built the cottage the Poet was born in. And not only was this so, but there was at the same time the prospect, after it had been decided to build the monument elsewhere, that a rival monument would be erected on the site in question. Whether the placing of Burns's monument adjacent to the Poet's birth-place would have been a disadvantage or otherwise from the point of view of the Committee is not now a matter of much moment; but the question gave rise to a great deal of interest, not to say feeling, in the town and county of Ayr in the second decade of last century. The circumstances of the dispute for it assumed that character-and how it arose, are pretty fully narrated in the minute books of the Incorporation of Shoemakers of Ayr, and in letters addressed to the deacons thereof, and to others. These books and documents are now in the custody of Mr John T. Goudie, solicitor, Ayr, whose father, the late Robert Goudie, Sheriff Clerk of Ayrshire, and a life-long enthusiast in all that concerned the Poet, was for many years clerk to the Incorporation. As the events happened eighty or ninety years ago, it may interest all who are interested in Burns to briefly recall them. The principal parties to the dispute were the Incorporation of Shoemakers of Ayr, to whom the cottage and grounds had been sold by the father of Burns in 1781 and who were still

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][graphic][ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »