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ME MO I R.
BIRTH, BOYHOOD, AND YOUTH.
DAVID MACBETH Moir, author of the following Poems, was born at Musselburgh on the 5th of January 1798. His parents were respectable citizens. He was the second of four children. It may be mentioned here that two of them, Hugh and Charles, are still living; men of intelligence and virtue, both of them. The father of this worthy family died in 1817; and the mother in 1842, at the age of seventy-five. It is a very common belief that intellectual qualities come by the mother's side. Whether or not the belief be well founded, it is a fact that our poet's mother was a woman of good understanding and general refinement, and of sound taste in matters of literature ; so much so, that, in the earlier part of his poetical course, young Moir was in the habit of consulting her about his pieces in manuscript, and had confidence in her judgment to the last. As she encouraged him in all his studies, it is pleasing to know that she lived to enjoy what is dearest to a mother's heart—the fame of her son.
Our poet got the first rudiments of his education at a school of minor note in Musselburgh. He was then entered at the Grammar School, which at that time was taught by Mr Taylor, and had a high character. At the boarding establishment connected with the school were placed the sons of several of our old Scottish families of distinction. During his attendance of about six years at this school, young Moir learned the Latin, Greek, and French languages, and the elements of geometry and algebra. He was a cheerful, active, and diligent scholar, and always stood high in his classes. In after years, however, he used to say that his scholarship was but shallow, and that the disadvantage of his own deficiency made him all the more careful in giving his children a superior education. Taylor was a perfect model of the old Tory and Loyalist, Moir was a favourite and admiring disciple ; and so, perhaps, the boy insensibly caught from his master's well-known political character notions which gradually strengthened into that Conservatism of Church and State which was one of the steadfast principles of his manhood.
Attentive scholar though he was, we may be sure that a nature such as Moir's, simple and healthy,
would rejoice in all manner of innocent sports. Gardening, and painting in water-colours, were the private recreations that he loved most; but in all the games of gregarious boyhood he took a robust and hearty share. Skating was his special delight; and bold and graceful was he at that beautiful play. In reference to his early amusements he writes thus, in a little essay entitled School Recollections, published in Friendship’s Offering of 1829:—“What delight in life have we ever experienced more exquisite than that which flowed in upon us from the teacher's “bene, bene,' our own self-approbation, and release from the tasks of the day—the green fields around us wherein to ramble, the stream beside us wherein to angle, the world of games and pastimes before us, where to choose?' Words are inadequate to express the thrill of transport with which, on the rush made from the schoolhouse door, the hat is waved in air, and the shout sent forth. What a variety of amusements succeed each other! Every month has its favourite ones. The sportsman does not look more keenly into his calendar for the commencement of the fishing, shooting, or hare-hunting season, than the younker for the time of flying kites, bowling at cricket, football, spinning pegtops, and playing at marbles. Boys are guided by a sort of unpremeditated social compact, which draws them out of doors, as soon as meals are discussed, with a sincere thirst for amusement, as certainly as rooks congregate in