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larly remark the course of the Leader, and on its banks, the pretended ruins of Ercildoun, a manor of Thomas the Rhymer, whom the fairy queen transported to her kingdom of fairie land. • The chivalresque Romance of Tristan, by Thomas the Rymer, is a curious relic of English poetry, in the 13th century; an entire poem, composed by a Scotchman, in the language of old Chaucer. An age later, the harp of Thomas fell to the lot of the ecclesiastic, Barbour, who made the hero of Scotland, Robert Bruce, the hero of a Romance in verse, often cited as an authority by writers. Barbour wrote in the 14th century. The following century was rich in chroniclers, or makers, among whom, the antiquarians and poets delight in boasting of Henry the Blind, who chose Wallace as the subject of a chronicle, which may serve as an appendage to that of Barbour; Bishop Gawain Douglas, who translated the Eneid; James L, a poetical crowned head, who may, perhaps, be considered as the inventor of Scotch pastoral poetry; Dunbar, to whom his satirical vein, and smiling fancy, inspired productions, reminding us at once of Chaucer and Butler, the author of Hudibras; and finally, under James V., David Lindsay, who enacts a part in Marmion, as Scotch king at arms. Persecuted by the catholic clergy, and sent into banishment, D. Lindsay returned at a later period, to serve the cause of religious reform, by his burlesque poems, the wit of which is not always in excellent taste.
All these Scotch poets had the defects peculiar to their time ; they were, indeed, less delicate than their predecessors and contemporaries of England, whom they style their masters. The two literatures, blended at that time into one and the same language, with the exception of a few Scotticisms. These Scotticisms augmented in number, till the time of Ramsay; or, perhaps it may rather be said that the English language becoming more cultivated, left the Scotch stationary; for from the period of the accession of James I. to the throne of England, the Scotch muse appears to have been cursed with barrenness.
Even at Edinburgh, the pedantic James had rejected the common language of the people as too vulgar, in order to bring a dead language into fashion. Buchanan was a man of genius, who subjected his imagination and knowledge to Latin, when he might have done for the Scotch language what Dante did for the Italian. On ascending the throne of England, James affected to speak pure English, though he never could get rid of his provincial accent. During three quarters of a century, Scotch literature was reduced to its ballads, despised by the beau monde, as well as by its poets. When Thomson, Mallet, &c. made themselves Englishmen by their poetry, the union of the two kingdoms was completed. The last attempts of the Stuarts revived the national pride of the Highlanders, and that of the inhabitants of the towns and Lowlands. The old ditties of the jacobites constituted a protest in favour of the independence of Scotland, and the language of their
fathers. These old ballads, indeed, produced a moving effect on the partizans of the House of Brunswick. When all hope of restoration was lost to the Pretender, many of the Scotch whigs rallied round the abortive creed of the Stuartists, as if it were a kind of poetical religion. It was in this spirit that Burns sung the misfortunes of Mary Stuart and the Pretender. Such is, also, the secret of the jacobitism imputed to Sir W. Scott and his pupil, James Hogg, who are in other respects so devoted to the House of Brunswick. The jacobitism of Allan Ramsay was marked by more real and unaffected characteristies. This poet, the first to whom the Scotch muse, after eighty years of silence, was finally indebted for the return of its ancient honours, was born in 1686, and was a witness of the great events of 1715 and 1745. He had been persecuted and calumniated by the fanatical clergy of the Presbyterian sect, for having intended to establish a theatre at Edinburgh. His detestation against ultra-presbyterianism influenced, therefore, somewhat his devotion to the Stuarts. But his poems have no political character. It is not, however, without secret meaning, that he has depicted in his Gentle Shepherd the shepherds of Charles II.'s time at the epoch of the restoration of the Stuarts. A series of songs in honour of the restoration follow. The return of an emigrant nobleman, is, perhaps, the true object of this pastoral drama, all the charms of which, in other respects, consist in isolated scenes which compose a series of eclogues, slightly
strung together. The portrait which the Gentle Shepherd sketches of his mistress, has all the grace of the malo me Galatea petit of Virgil: the plaid and the flute which the two shepherds exchange, remind one also of the mutual presents in the Greek and Latin Bucolics. In another charming scene two shepherdesses are introduced, discussing the subjects of love and marriage. There is a truly antique simplicity in this dialogue, founded on perfectly modern ideas. But the Scotch are chiefly pleased in this pastoral with the employment of their dialect and the couplets, which, set to national tunes, have become as popular as the stanzas of Tasso in Italy. They boast much, as an excellence of the language ennobled by Ramsay, Ferguson, and Burns, of those diminutives which are almost unknown in England, and which soften the termination of a variety of words, which a consonant penultima would render inharmonious.* In other respects, Ramsay had neither the spirit, nor the energy, nor the glow of Burns; he has depicted manners rather than passions and characters. He had published, before his Gentle Shepherd, a valuable collection of old Scotch poems, among which he introduced some of his own productions, which are not less esteemed. He is the Theocritus of Scotland. We shall re-discover traces of him on the banks of the Clyde.
* Such as bit, bittie, little bits bairn, child, bairnie, little child; lau, lastie, little girl. On the other hand, the Gaelic tongue has imparted some harth expressions to the Lowland dialect.
It has been said of Ferguson, who succeeded him, that he has written town eclogues. He resided less in the country than at Edinburgh, and was more pleased with the company of the citizens than with that of the shepherds. His Farmer's Ingle is, nevertheless, a true pastoral; but Ferguson's style of wit has more affinity with Barns than with Ramsay or Hogg, of whom it is high time to speak, since I am now on his domains and on those of his master, Walter Scott. . Burns and Ferguson will be noticed in turn.
The Scotch greatly eulogize the grave demeanour of their peasants, their severe morals, and their religious enthusiasm, resulting from their daily perusal of the Bible, which imparts occasionally to their language an oriental colouring. This character, which is a relic of puritan austerity, is no slight constituent of the tiresome dignity, or reserve of some of the Edinburgh drawingrooms. I have not yet been enabled sufficiently to study the aspect which it imparts to the families of the farmers' labourers, and of the little domestic establishments of the hamlets; but it is worthy commemoration, that the poets sprung from the class of Scotch peasantry, have constituted personification of very opposite manners and ideas. Burns did not seek for an asylum against his misfortunes in religion. The last days of his life exhibit him in the act of trying to drown his recollection in orgies, which were finally fatal; and James Hogg is quoted as the most decided whiskey drinker throughout Scotland. The Presbyterian