Obrázky na stránke


THE reader will be pleased to find, from the following communication to the Editor, by Mrs. Murray, of Bath (authoress of “ Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch), that Mr. Ross was one of the very few writers that practised what they taught.

"I knew a good deal of Mr. Ross, author of the Fortunate Shepherdess, but it was many years ago: -I still remember him with respect, as a man of most amiable character. His genius and talents speak for themselves in the above-mentioned beautiful little Poem, and one cannot help regretting that such abilities were only born to "blush unseen, and waste their sweetness on the desert air;" for in truth his humble abode was little better than a desert, though not inhabited by savages; nothing on earth being less savage than a mere uncultivated Highlander. I speak from the experience of many years of the early part of my life, which I had the happiness of spending in the North Highlands of Scotland, the country of Honest men and bonny


Mr. Ross was also author of two excellent


Songs, called, "What ails the Lasses at me?" and "The Rock and the wee pickle tow." They are printed in this Collection immediately after "The Bridal o't." He was born about the year 1700. father was a farmer, in the parish of Kincardine O'Neil, Aberdeenshire. His first settlement was at Birs, as parochial school-master, about the year 1733. He removed to Lochlee, Forfarshire, where he died in May 1783, after residing fifty years in the centre of the Grampians, almost secluded from the converse of men and books. Mr. Ross's grandson, the Rev. Alexander Thomson, gives the following account of him in a letter to Mr. Campbell, author of An Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland, dated Lintrethen, 14th June, 1798.— "He (Ross) was a plain man, had the character of being a good school-master, was very religious, which appeared by his behaviour as much as by his profession. He was an excellent Latin scholar, and wrote with considerable accuracy, till the days of old age and infirmity, when he wrote a Poem, entitled, The Orphan,' and attempted to publish it at Aberdeen, with some other little performances, which, on account of their inaccuracy, of which the worthy author was not so sensible as he would have formerly been, he was advised by Dr. Beattie, one of his best friends, not to publish."

In 1768 Mr. Ross published his "Fortunate Shepherdess," with a few Songs. Immediately after their appearance, Dr. Beattie, in the most friendly manner, addressed a letter to "The Printer of the Aberdeen Journal," under the signature of " Oliver Oldstile;" together with some complimentary verses, addressed to the "facetious author," which he begged might be transmitted through the same channel "which," the Doctor observes, "may please some of your readers, and cannot, I think, offend any."


Mr. Skinner died in the arms of his only surviving son, the Right Reverend John Skinner, Bishop of the diocese of Aberdeen, at the advanced age of 86, after having had the pastoral care of the Episcopal congregation at Longside (a remote parish in the North of Scotland) for nearly 65 years! The ties of pastoral regard and affection, by which he was so long united to his beloved flock, could be cut asunder only by the stroke of death; and this dissolution of all his earthly connections having happened on the 16th of June, 1807, his sorrowing people had no sooner committed his body to the ground, than they set on foot a subscription, for raising a handsome monument to his memory, which has accordingly been erected in the church-yard of Longside, with a suitable inscription.

The following well-told anecdote is a beautiful illustration of the simplicity of Mr. Skinner's cha


"When surrounded by his grand-children in their

[blocks in formation]

early years, it was delightful to see how he could adapt himself to their yet humble but rising capacities. He would make them verses by the hour. He would puzzle them with riddles, and little arithmetical problems of his own invention. He would try to call forth the latent spark of genius, by proposing questions on the different branches of study in which they were occupied at school. Although in themselves simple, and easy of solution, yet the grandfather had such art in quaintly arranging, and in enigmatically expressing, his questions, as conveyed the idea of extreme difficulty; while, at the same time, no sooner did he himself proceed to unravel the seeming mystery, than even children blushed to find themselves duped and outwitted by means so completely within the reach of their own detection. On one occasion of this kind, when his oldest grandson could not discover the little artifice employed to perplex him, he was not a little alarmed by hearing his grandfather say, that even Thomas the Rhymer had prophesied on the subject of the fourth John Skinner's lamentable weakness of mind, and want of capacity,

The world shall four John Skinners see,

The first sall teach a school;—
The other two shall parsons be,

And the fourth shall be a fool!'

« PredošláPokračovať »