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His ‘Lochaber no More' is a strain of manly feeling and unaffected pathos. The poetical epistles of Ramsay were undoubtedly the prototypes of those by Burns, and many of the stanzas may challenge comparison with them. He makes frequent classical allusions, especially to the works of Horace, with which he seems to have been well acquainted, and whose gay and easy turn of mind harmonised with his own. In an epistle to Mr. James Arbuckle, the poet gives a characteristic and minute painting of himself: Imprimis, then, for tallness, I
Well judging a sour heavy face Am five foot and four inches high; Is not the truest mark of grace. A biack-a-viced (1) spod dapper fellow, I hate a drunkard or a glution, No: lean, nor overlaid wi' tallow;
Yet I'm pae fae to wine and mutton : With pbiz of a morocco cut,
Great tables we'er engaged my wishes Resembling a late man of wit,
When crowded with o'er mony dishes; Auld gabbet Spec, (2) who was so cun- A healthful stomach, sharply set, ning
Prefers a back-sey (3) piping het. To be a dummie ten years running. I never could imagine 't vicious Then for the fabric of my mind,
Of a fair fame to be ambitious: 'Tis mair to mirth than grief inclined : Proud to be thought a comic poet, I rather choose to laugh at folly,
And let a judge of numbers know it, Than shew dislike by melancholy; I court occasion thus to shew it.
Ramsay addressed epistles to Gay and Somerville, and the latter paid him in kind, in very flattering verses. In one of Allan's answers is the following picturesque sketch, in tration of his own contempt for the stated rules of art: I love the garden wild and wide,
May sometimes cheat the gardener's care, Where oaks have plum-trees by their side; Yet this to me's a paradise Where woodbines and the twisting vine Compared with prime cut plots and nice, Clip round the pear-tree and the pine ; Where nature has to art resigned, Where mixed jonquils and gowans grow. Till all looks mean, stiff, and confined. And roses 'midst rank clover blow
Heaven Homer taught; the critic draws Upon a bank of a clear strand,
Only from him and such their laws : In wimplings led by nature's hand; The native bards first plunge the deep Though docks and brambles here and Before the artful dare to leap.
The 'Gentle Shepherd' is the greatest of Ramsay's works, and perhaps the finest pastoral drama in the world. It possesses that air of primitive simplicity and seclusion which seems indispensable in compositions of this class, at the same time that its landscapes are filled with lifelike beings, wlio interest us from their character, situa. tion, and circumstances. It has nope of that studied pruriency and unnatural artifice which are intruded into the Faithful Shepherdess' of Fletcher, and is equally free from the tedious allegory and forced conceits of most pastoral poems. It is a genuine picture of Scottish life, but of lite passed in simple rural employments, apart from the guilt and fever of large towns, and reflecting only the pure and unsophisticated emotions of our nature. The affected sensibilities and feigned distresses of the Corydons' and 'Delias' find no place in Ramsay's clear and manly page. He drew his shepherds from the. life, placed them in scenes which lie actually saw, and made them speak the language which he every day leard—the free idiomatic speech of his native vales. His art lay in the beautiful selection of his materials---in the grouping of his well-defined characters—the invention of a plot, romantic, yet natural--the delightful appropriateness of every speech and auxiliary incident-and in the tone of generous sentiment and true feeling which sanctifies this scene of humble virtue and happiness. The love of his “gentle rustics is at first artless and confiding, though partly disguised by maiden coyness and arch humour; and it is expressed in language and incidents alternately amusing and impassioned. At length the liero is elevated in station above his mistress, and their affection assumes a deeper character from the threatened dangers of a separation. Mutual distress and tenderness break down reserve. The simple heroine, without forgetting her natural dignity and modesty, lets out her whole soul to her early companion; and when assured of his unalterable attachment, she not only, like Miranda, ‘weeps at what she is glad of,' but, with the true pride of a Scottish maiden, she resolves to study gentler charms, and to educate herself to be worthy of her lover. Poetical justice is done to this faithful attachment, by both the characters being found equal in birth and station. The poet's taste and judgment are evinced in the superiority which he gives his hero and beroine, without debasing their associates below their proper level; while a ludicrous contrast to both is supplied by the underplot of Bauldy and his courtships. The elder characters in the piece afford a tine relief to the youthful pairs, besides completing the rustic picture. While one scene discloses the young shepherds by 'craigy bields' and
1 Dark complexionod. From hlach and Fr. vis, tbe visage. 2 The Speuruto?', No. 1, by Addison.
3 A Sirloin.
crystal springs,' or presents Peggy and Jenny on the bleaching. green
A trotting burnie wimpling through the groundanother shews us the snug thatched cott with its barn and peat. stack, or the interior of the house, with a clear ingle glancing on the floor, and its inmates happy with innocent mirth and rustic plenty. The drama altogether makes one proud of peasant-life and the virtues of a Scottish coitage. In imitation of Gay in his 'Beggar's Opera,' Ramsay interspersed songs throughout the Gentle Shepherd,' which tend to interrupt the action of the piece, and too often merely repeat, in a diluted form, the sentiments of the dialogue. These songs in themselves, liowever, are simple and touching lyrics, and added greatly to the effect of the drama on the stage. In reading it, the songs may be advantageously passed over, leaving undisturbed the most perfect delineation of rural life and manners, without vulgar humility or affectation, that was ever drawn.
Ode from Horace.
Buried beneath great wreaths of spaw, And laugh at fortune's feckless powers.
Be sure ye dinna quat the grip
Of ilka joy when ye are young, Driving their ba's frae whims or tee, Before auld age your vitals nip, There's no ae gowfer to be seen,
And lay ye twafald o'er a rung. Nor douser fouk wysing ajee The biassed bowls on Tamson's green. Sweet youth 's a blithe and heartsome
time; Then fling on coals, and ripe the ribs, Then lads and lasses, while it's May,
And beek the house baith but and ben; Gae pu' the gowan in its prime,
Watch the saft minutes of delight,
And drives away the winter soon; And kisses, laying a' the wyte
• Haith, ye 're ill-bred,' she 'll smiling say; Leave to the gods your ilka care,
Ye 'll worry me, you greedy rook;' If that they think us worth their while; Syne frae your arms she'll rin away, They can a rowth of blessings spare, And hide hersell in some dark nook. Which will our fashous fears beguile.
Her laugh will lead you to the place, For what they have a mind to do,
Where lies the happiness you want, That will they do. should we gang wud; And plainly tells you to your face, If they command the storms to blaw, Nineteen naysays are half a grant. Tben upo' sight the hailstanes thud.
Now to her heaving bosom cling,
As token of a future bliss.
These benisons, I'm very sure,
Are of the gods' indulgent grant; Let neist day come as it thinks fit,
Then ruly carles, wbisht, forbear The present minute 's only ours ;
To p. gue us with your whining cant. In this instance, the felicitous manner in which Ramsay has preserved the Horatian ease and spirit, and at the same time clothed the whole in a true Scottishi garb, renders his version superior even to Dryden's English one. For comparison two stanzas of the latter are subjoined: Secure those golden early joys,
The appointed hour of promised bliss, That youth unsoured with sorrow The pleasing whisper in the dark, bears,
The half-unwilling willing kiss, Ere withering time the taste destroys The laugh that guides thee to the mark, With sickness and unwieldy years.
When the kind nymph would coyness For active sports, for pleasing rest,
feign, This is the time to be possest;
And hides but to be found again ; The best is but in season best.
These, these are joys the gods for youth
i Clergh, a hollow between hills ; scaur, a bare hill-side ; slap, a narrow pass between two hilis.
2 A large bottle of claret holding three magnums or Scots pints.
Song.–Tune, 'Bush Aboon Traquair.' At setting day and rising morn,
To all our haunts I will repair, With soul that still shall love thec, By greenwood shaw or fountain; I'll ask of Heaven thy safe return, Or where the summer day I'd share With all that can improve thee.
With thee upon yon mountain : I'll visit aft the birken bush,
There will I tell the trees and flowers, Where first thou kindly told me From thoughts unfeigned and tender; Sweet tales of love, and hid thy blush, By vows you're mine, by love is yours Whilst round thou didst enfold me. A heart that cannot wander.
Lochaber rio More.
Rustic Courtship -From the 'Gentle Shepherd.'--Act I.
Hear how I served my lass I lo'e as weel
I careless cried, and lap in o'er the dike.
Dialogue on Marriage.
Peggy and JENNY.
PEGGY. Gae far’er up the burn to Habbie's How,
JENNY. I dinna like him, Peggy, there 's an end;
PEGGY. Ye dash the lad wi' constant slighting pride,
JENNY. I never thought a single life a crime.
Peggy. Nor I: but love in whispers let's us ken,