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Shour old acquaintance be forgot, Is thy kind heart now grown so cold
In that loving breast of thine,
On old longsyne?
Though thou wert rehel to the king,
And beat with wind and rain,
For old long yae.
Thy arms about me twine,
Ard mak me ance again as blest,
As I was langsyne.
High on a hill his castle stood,
With ha’s and towers a height,
With scarce seven years of rest. Where he lodged mony a knight.
For chaste and beauty deemed,
Save Eleanor the Queen.
Puffed up with power and might, Your faes stand on the strand,
Fuil twenty thousand gli:tering spears
The king of Norse commands.
Our good king rose and cried;
A Scots king never tried.
Go, little page, tell Hardyknute,
Thei red, red grew his dark-brown That lives on hill sae hie,
cheeks, To draw his sword, the dread of fees, Sae did his dark-brown brow; An' haste and follow me.'
His looks grew keen, as they were wont The little page flew swift as dart
In dangers great to do; Flung by his master's arm :
He's ta'en a horn as green as glass, Come dowu, come down. Lord Hardy- And gi'en five sounds sae shrill, knute,
That trees in greenwood shook thereat, Anđ rid your king frae harm.'
See loud rang lika bill.
ALLAN RAMSAY. The genius of the country was at length revived in all its force and nationality, its comic dialogue, Doric simplicity, and tenderness, by ALLAN RAMSAY, whose very name is now an impersonation of Scottish scenery and character. The religious austerity of the Covenanters still hung over Scotland, and damped the efforts of poets and dramatists; but a freer spirit found its way into the towns, alorg with the increase of trade and commerce. The higher classes were in the habit of visiting London, though the journey was still performed on horseback; and the writings of Pope and Swift were circulated over the north. Clubs and taverns were rife in Edinburgh, in which the assembled wits loved to indulge in a pleasantry that often degenerated to excess. Talent was readily known and appreciated; and when Ramsay appeared as an author, he found the nation ripe for his native humour, his ' manners-painting strains,' and his lively original sketches of Scottish life. Allan Ramsay was born in 1686, in the village of Leadhills, Lanarkshire, where his father held the situation of manager of Lord Hopetoun's mines. When he became a poet, he boasted that he was of the auld descent' of the Dalhousie family, and also collaterally "sprung from a Douglas loin.' His mother, Alice Bower, was of English parentage, her father hav. ing been brought from Derbyshire to instruct the Scottish miners in their art. Those who entertain the theory that men of genius usually partake largely of the qualities and dispositions of their mother, may perhaps recognise some of the Derbyshire blood in Allan Ramsay's frankness and joviality of character. His father died while the poet was in his infancy ; but his mother marrying again in the same district, Allan was brought up at Leadhills, and put to the village school, where he acquired learning enough to enable him, as he tells us, to read Horace .faintly in the original.' His lot might have been a hard one, but it was fortunately spent in the country till he had reached his fifteenth year; and his lively temperament enabled him, with cheerfulness
To wade through glens wi' chorking (1) feet,
Hoping the morn might prove a better day. I Chorking or chirking, the noise made by the feet when the shoes are full of water. 2 Spring
At the age of fifteen, Allan was put apprentice to a wig-maker in Edinburgh-a light employment, suited to his slender frame and boyish smartness, but not very congenial to his literary taste. His poetical talent, however, was more observant than creative, and he did not commence writing till he was about twenty-six years of age. He then penned an address to the 'Easy Club,' a convivial society of young men, tinctured with Jacobite predilections, which were also imbibed by Ramsay, and which probably formed an additional recomiendation to the favour of Pope and Gay, a distinction that he afterwards enjoyed. Allan was admitted a member of this 'blithe society,' and became their poet-laureate. He wrote various light pieces, chiefly of a local and humorous description, which were sold at a penny each, and became exceedingly popular. He also sedulously courted the patronage of the great, subduing his Jacobite feelings, and never selecting a fool for his patron. In this mingled spirit of prudence and poetry, he contrived
To theek the out, and line the inside,
And baith ways gathered in the cash. In the year 1712 he married a writer's daughter, Christian Ross, who was his faithful partner for more than thirty years. He greatly extended his reputation by writing a continuation to King James's *Christ's Kirk on the Green,' executed with genuine humour, fancy, and a perfect mastery of the Scottish language. Nothing so rich had appeared since the strains of Dunbar or Lindsay. What an inimitable sketch of rustic-life, coarse, but as true as any by Teniers, is presented in the first stanzas of the third canto!Now frae the east nook of Fife the dawn And greedy wives, wi' girning thrawn, Speeled (1) westlins up the lift;
Cried lasses up to thrift;
Banged to their breeks like drift
By break of day. Ramsay now left off wig-making, and set up a bookseller's shop, opposite to Niddry's Wynd. He next appeared as an editor, and published two works, ' The Tea-table Miscellany,' being a collection of songs, partly his own; and 'The Evergreen,' a collection of Scottish poems written before 1600. He was not well qualified for the task of editing works of this kind, being deficient both in knowledge and taste. In the 'Evergreen,' lie published, as ancient poems, two pieces of his own, one of which, 'The Vision,' exhibits high powers of poetry. The genius of Scotland is drawn with a touch of the old heroic Muse: Great daring darted frae his ee,
Of stalwart make in bane and brawnd, A braid-sword shogled at his thie,
Of just proportions large; Op his left arm a targe;
A various rainbow-coloured plaid A shining spear filled his right hand, Owre his left spawl (2) he threw, 1 Climbed.
Down his braid back, frae his white head, To see, led at command,
A stainpart and rampant
Fierce lion in his hand. I.: 1725, appeared his celebrated pastoral drama, 'The Gentle Shephierd,' of which two_scenes had previously been published under the titles of Patie and Roger,' and 'Jenny and Meggy.' It was received with universal approbation, and was republished both in London and Dublin. When Gay visited Scotland in company with liis patrons, the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, be used to lounge in Allan Rimsay's shop, and obtain from him explanations of some of the Scottislı expressions, that he might communicate them to Pope, who was a great admirer of the poem. This was a delicate and marked compliment, which Allan must have felt, though he had previously represented himself as the vicegerent of Apollo, and equal to Homer! He now removed to a better shop, and instead of the Mercury's lead which had graced his sign-board, he put up the presentment of two brothers' of the Muse, Ben Jonson and Drummond. He next established a circulating library, the first in Scotland. He associated on familiar terms with the leading nobility, lawyers, wits, and literati.
afterwards a distinguished artist, he sent to Rome for instruction. But the prosperity of poets seems liable to an uncommon share of crosses. He was led by the promptings of a taste then rare in Scotland to expend his savings in the erection of a theatre, for the performance of the regular drama. He wished to keep 'bis' troop.' together by the pith of reason;' but he did not calculate on the pith of an act of parliament in the hands of a hostile magistrate. The statute for licensing theatres prohibited all dramatic exhibitions without special licence and the royal letters-patent; and on the strength of this enactment the magistrates of Edinburgh shut up Allan's theatre, leaving him without redress. To add to his mortification, the envious poetasters and strict religionists of the day attacked him with personal satires and lampoons, under such titles as - A Looking-glass for Allan Ramsay ;' *The Dying Words of Allan Ramsay,' &c. Allan endeavoured to enlist President Forbes and the judges on his side by a poetical address in which he prays for compensation from the legislature
Syne, for amends for what I've lost,
Edge me into some canny post. His circumstances and wishes at this crisis are more particularly explained in a letter to the president, which now lies before us :
• Will you,' he writes, . give me something to do? Here I pass a sort of half-idle scrimp life, tending a trifling trade, that scarce affords me the needful. Had I not got a parcel of guineas from you, and such as you, who were pleased to patronise my subscriptions, I should not have had a grey groat. I think shame-but why should I, when
1 Waving locks of hair.
I open my mind to one of your goodness ?—to hint that I want to have some small commission, when it happens to fall in your way to put me into it.” (1)
It does not appear that he either got money or a post, but he applied himself attentively to his business, and soon recruited his purse. À citizen-like good sense regulated the life of Ramsay. He gave over poetry before, le prudently says, “the coolness of fancy that attentis advanced years should make me risk the reputation I had acquired.' Frae twenty-five to five and forty,
Streaking his wings ap to the lift; My muse was nowther sweer nor dorty; (2) Then, then, my soul was in a lowe, My Pegasus wad break his tether
That gart my numbers safely row. E'en at the shagging of a feather,
But eild and judginent 'gin to say, And through ideas scour like drift, Let be your sangs, and learn to pray.
About the year 1743, bis circumstances were sufficiently flourishing to enable him to build himself a small octagon-shaped house on the north side of the Castle-hill, which be called Ramsay Lodge, but which some of his waygish friends compared to a goose-pie. He told Lord Elibank one day of this ludicrous comparison. What!' said the witty peer, “a goose-pie! In good faith, Allan, now that I see you in it, I think the house is not ill named.' He lived in this singuiar-looking mansion-wbich has since been much improved-twelve years, and died of a complaint that had long afflicted bim, scurvy in the gums, on the 7th of January, 1658, at the age of seventy-two. So much of pleasantry, good humour, and worldly enjoyment is mixed up with the history of Allan Ramsay, that his life is one of the 'green and sunny spots' in literary biography. His genius was well rewarded; and he possessed that turn of mind which David Hume says it is more happy to possess than to be born to an estate of ten thousand a year—a disposition always to see the favourable side of things.
Ramsay's poetical works are sufficiently various; and one of his editors bas ambitiously classed them under heads of serious, elegiac, comic, satiric, epigrammatical, pastoral, lyric, epistolary, fables and tales. His tales are quaint and huniorous, though, like those of Prior, they are too often indelicate. The Monk and Miller's Wife,' founded on a humorous old Scottish poem, is as happy an adaptation as any of Pope's or Dryden's from Chaucer. His lyrics want the grace, simplicity, and beauty which Burns breathed into these 'wood notes wild,' designed alike for cottage and hall; yet some of those in the Gentle Shepherd' are delicate and tender ; and others, such as "The Last Time I came o'er the Moor,' and 'The Yellow-haired Laddie,' are still favourites with all lovers of Scottish song. In one of the least happy of the lyrics there occurs this beautiful image:
How joyfully my spirits rise,
When dancing she moves fively, 0:
Which sparkle so divinely, 0. 1 From the manuscript collections in Culloden flouse. 2 Neither slow nor pettish.