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coincident, to use a phraseology so perfectly appropriate to a wig-maker, they were, at least, not widely divergent; and fo accordingly they continue to this day. Although a reader of poetry in his twentieth year, and the frequenter of a literary club, of which we find the learned and accomplished Dr. Pitcairn was alfo a member, our bard produced nothing that could remind us of the infantine performances of Cowley, of Milton, or of Pope. His first attempt, which has been carefully preserved, is an address to the most happy members of the Easy Club.” It is, to confess the truth, a contemptible effort, and not calculated to give the most distant promise of future excellence.
In 1716, we find his habit of writing greatly improved, as well as his fame and consideration in the city of Edinburgh.
“ He wrote many petty poems, which from time to time he published, at a proportionate price. In this form, his poetry was at that time attractive ; and the women of Edinburgh were wont to send their children, with a penny, to buy Ramsay's last piece." Pp. 14, 15.
It was about this time likewise that he published an edi. tion of " Christ's Kirk on the Green,” a ludicrous poem of King James the First's of Scotland, to which he successfully added iwo cantos : and, in 1721, he at length ventured to fen i forth his miscellaneous poems“ in the dignified form of a quarto;” concluding the work, after the manner of Horace, ad librum fuum,
Gae, spread my
fame : Away, and fix me an immortal name. Ages to come shall thee revive,
And gar thee wi' new honours live.This “ dignified” volume, as it appears, was ushered into the world by a numerous list of subscribers, “ consisting of all who were either eminent or fair in Scotland," and actually procured for the poet, besides a distinguished patronage, the more folid recompense of four hundred guineas; without doubt a considerable sum at the commencement of the pre
From this period, Ramsay was regarded as among the foremost poets of his time, whether in the south or north. In 1724, he published “ The Tea-table Miscellany,” being a collection of songs, both Scotch and English, which he freely dedicated
To ilka lovely British lass,
Frae Lady Charlotte, Ann, and Jean,
So singularly pleasing and popular was the work, (to which Two other volumes were afterwards added) that it loon went through no fewer than twelve different editions ; a surprising number at a time, when booksellers, as yet, had not learnt the happy art of procuring, for a favourite author, the fame, if not the profit, of as many editions as they please, with the expense and trouble of only a single impreffion*. During the same year, we find, that he likewise published “The Evergreen,” a collection of Scotch poems, “ wrote by the ingenigus before 1600.” Here Ramsay is very justly charged, by his biographer, with having not only fo " changed the orthography, and modernized the verse, that the state of the language, and the nature of the poetry, during former times, could no longer be discovered,” but, also, with inserting in his collection several compositions, which he must have known to be of far more modern date. Among the latter description, was the curious, and well-known piece, entitled “ Hardyknute a fragment,” (republished afterwards by Dodfley in 1740) which our indefatigable biographer pretty clearly traces to a female pen, viz. that of Lady Wardlaw of Pitrevie in Fifelire, and whom he afterwards (at page 38.) inaccurately calls « Lady Elizabeth Wardlaw."
Of the precise era, when Ramsay exchanged his profession of wig-maker for that of bookseller, we are not informed : but, from a note at page 35, it appears to have been fome time between 1716 and 1725; in the latter of which years
he is no longer styled “ Piriwige-maker,” but distinguished by the more honourable appellation of " Bookfeller," in the parith-registers. This event, together with che consequences, both internal and external, which it must have produced on the poet, was, beyond question, the moat remarkable ocçur: rence in his life, and might, in our judgment, advantageoufly have occupied that portion of the biography before us, where some awkward attempts are made at the exercise of criticism, and the display of taite. Tsut as the author leems to poffefs but a small portion of the divine particula qura, this * In our own memory
%, if we rightly recollea (but previous to the commencement of
our labours) the very notable performance of Mr. Barrister Eriki
a View of the Cauirs and Consequences of the W five and forty editions within the year.
or with France" went through n 'e fewer than NO.' XXXII. 11
is a style of writing, for which his talents are but little fitted. We, however, learn, that “ In 1726, Ramsay removed from his original dwelling, at the Mercury, opposite the Cross-well, to a house which had been the London Coffee-house, in the east end of the Luckenbooths. With this change of situation, he altered his fign; and, instead of the original Mercury, he now adopted the heads of two poets, Drummond of Hawthornden, and Ben Jonson. Here he fold, and lent books, till a late period of his life : here the wits of Edinburgh used to meet for amusement, and for information. From this commodious situation, Gay, a congenial poet, was wont to look out upon the Exchange of Edinburgh, in order to know perfons, and ascertain characters. Pp. 39. 40."
This “congenial poet,” we think, must have looked out upon the exchange with an eye of prophecy, (a poetical gift also) as well as discerninent; for the building so called, in Edinburgh, was not begun to be erected till less than* half a century ago.
Somewhat previous to this period, Ramsay feems to have turned his thoughts to pastoral poetry, the species of composition of all others the most peculiarly adapted to his genius, He wrote a pastoral, entitled “ Richy and Sandy," on the death of Addison, and another on that of Prior. He composed, in 1721, “ Patie and Roger," and addressed the piece to Josiah Burchet, one of his earliest patrons, who was long Secretary to the Admiralty, and a poet also of that dayt. In 1723, he published “
Jenny and Meggy,” being equal to the pastoral just now mentioned : and by the advice of his literary friends, about two years after, he happily executed the project of conjoining the two pieces, and giving a draniatiç form and character to the whole. Thus was produced « The Gentle Shepherd,” a pastoral drama which we do not hesitate to pronounce to be the finest effort of that description, by any author, or in any language with which we are acquainted. Why the time of its appearance should be estcemed a moment lo propitious for (what the biographer
* See Arnot's Hiftory of Edinburgh.
+"Burchet left behind him 'A History of the Navy,' which is now nearly forgotten. This gentleman seems to have been greatly captivated by Ramsay's muse:
Go on, famed bard, the wonder of our days,
calls) Shepherdish poetry,” we cannot tell ; as it will scarcely be faid that Pope, the contemporay of Ramsay touched the true notes of this species of fong: but we most heartily coneur with the author, in reprobating the uncommon petulance, and still more the uncommon dullness, of the editor of antient Scottish poems, (published An. 1786) who has taken it upon him to declare, that the Gentle Shepherd is “more barbarous and stupid than the Beggar's Opera,” by which he appears to poffefs but a very incompetent notion of the real character of eithert. In June 1725, Ramsay dedicated his performance, in plain prose, to Susannah, Countess of Eglinton.
“ There was at the same time,” as we are told, “a poetical dedication, of more elaborate praise, by Hamilton of Bangour, an amiable man, an accomplished poet, who finished his short career, at Lyons, in 1754, at the age of fifty. This is the same dignified lady, to whom, at age of 85, Johnson and Boswell offered their homage ; wbofe powers of pleasing continued so resplendent, ai to charm the fastidious fage into a declaration, that, in visiting such a woman, he had spent his day well,” Pp. 34, 35.
On this delightful drama, this monumentum are perennius, we forbear to enlarge, until we come to speak of the critical essay on the writings of its author.
In spite of the malice of enemies, and the envy of rivals, Ramsay still continued to write, and to publish, and to please, the public. He printed his “ Fables and Tales" in 1722 ; his tale of “ The Three Bonnets" in the same year; “ The Fair Affembly" in 1723; together with his poem “ On Health," which he addressed to the great Earl of Stair, the same who was Ambassador at the court of Lewis XIV, and in this manner he was enabled, in 1728, to send forth second "dignified" quarto, including "The Gentle Shepherd,” and his “Malque on the Nuptials of the Duke of Hamilton.” Of this quarto an 8vo. edition came out, in 1729; and both quarto volumes were re-printed in London, for the bookselJers, during the year 1731. His last work was “ A Collec, tion of Thirty Tables,” which made its appearance in 1730. At the age of forty-five, we find that Ramsay ceased to write for the public eye, after his fame had spread and his compofitions were diffused, not only over England and Ireland, but
See Antient Scottish Poems (1786) P. 113; which should be carefully diftinguithed from a very different work, published by the late accomplithed, and learned Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, in 1768, where there are much ingenious remark, and clegant criticism,
also over the colonies, in various and repeated impression, He died at Edinburgh, on the oth of January 1758, when part seventy-two, and, as it is believed, in affluent circumstances. Ramsay left two sons, and several daughers. The eldest son, of his own name, was portrait-painter to his Majesty ; and the son of the latter, John Ramsay, is now, we understand a Lieutenant Colonel in the 3d regiment of foot-guards.
Thus we have cursorily sketched, from the work before us, and for the entertainment of our readers, the life of a poet who has justly been flyled the Scottish Thcocritus, and, with the exception only of Thomson and perhaps of Burns, is, without doubt, the most eminent of any that have yet appeared North of the Tweed.
(To be continued.)
Benson's Vindication of the Methodists.
(Continued from p. 170, Vol. vii.) N regard to the Class Meetings, we have reason to believe that
the reporters are not so entirely unacquainted with the nature and purport of them as Mr. B. infinuates, or as he, perhaps, would with them to be. From our own knowledge wecan venture to affirm, that nothing has been advanced respecting the meetings, which we consider as the grand nursery of Methodism, of the truth of which abundant proofs are not ready to be produced. We will, therefore, in our turn, give the author of the Vindication some little information as to the manner in which these cláss meetings are conducted in the country. The reporters have not, that we know of, positively affirmed that the pretenders to exorcism have practised their capricious forms and modes of it in the class meetings only; such an afsertion would not have been strictly confonant to the truth; for almost all the members of the fociety resident in the district alluded to know full' well, that those raving enthuafifts, known by the name of the Yorkshire Colliers, were cordially admitted into their respective ineeting-houfes, that there they practised their exorcisms, and many other grofs délusjons; and that they were, moreover, espoused, carefied, and treated with tae utmost hospitality, not only by their preachers, both ftationary and supernumerary, but also by many others the abet: tors of methodism. All that they meant to say, as far as we are able to comprehend their meaning, was that various gross misrepresentations 'and impoftures had been chiefly propagated, and jupported by means of those class meetings; and this, we