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LIST OF AUTHORS, ,

SELECTIONS FROM WHOSE WRITINGS ARE GIVEN IN THIS VOLUME.

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Allan, Robert,

510 Grant, Mrs. Anne, 338 | Mickle, William Julius, Ancrum, Earl of,. 68

Minstrel, Henry the, Armstrong, John, 176 | Hamilton, John,

380 Montgomery, Alexander, Ayton, Sir Robert,

66 Hamilton, Wm. (Bangour), 169 Montgomery, James,

Hamilton, Wm. (Gilbertfield), 92 Montrose, Marquis of, Baillie, Lady Grizzel, 90 Henryson, Robert,

18 Muirhead, James, Baillie, Joanna, 386 Henry the Minstrel,

10 Balfour, Alexander, . 434 | Hogg, James,

446 Nairne, Carolina, . Barbour, John, 4 | Home, John,

208 Nicol, James, . Barclay, Alexander, . 31 Hume, Alexander,

59

Ogilvie, John, .
Barnard, Lady Anne, 334 Hunter, Mrs. John, . 282
Beattie, James,
254

Paul, Hamilton,
Blacklock, Thomas, 198 Inglis, Mrs. Margaret M., . 508 Picken, Ebenezer,
Blair, Robert, .

141 Blatnire, Susanna, 318 James the Fifth, .

51 | Ramsay, Allan, Bhind Harry, . 10 | James the First,

12 | Reid, William, Boswell, Sir Alexander, 528 James the Sixth,

63 Rhymer, Thomas the, Bruce, Michael, 294 Johnston, Arthur,

78 Ross, Alexander, . Buchanan, Dugald, 183

Ross, William, Buchanan, George,

48 Kennedy, Walter,
Burns, Robert,
349

Scadlock, James, .
Lapraik, John,

232 Scot, Alexander, .
Charies the First,
80 | Leyden, John,

514 Scott, Andrew, Clerk, Sir John,

100 Lindsay, Sir David, 34 Scott, Sir Walter, Cockburn, Mrs. Alison, 179 Lochore, Robert, .

382 Sempill, Francis, . Crawford, Robert, 133 Logan, John,

322 Skinner, John, Cunningham, Thomas M.,. 537 | Lowe, John,

337 Skirving, Adam, .

Smollett, Tobias George, Douglas, Gavin,

28 Macdonald, Alexander, 166 Stewart, Helen D'Arcy, Drummond, William, 73 Macdonald, John,

87 Stirling, Earl of, Dunbar, William,

24 Macintyre, Duncan, . 227 | Struthers, John,
Mackay, Robert, .

180
Elliot, Sir Gilbert,
206 Mackenzie, Henry,

285 | Tannahill, Robert, Elliot, Jane,

233 | MacLachlan, Ewen, . 533 | Thomas the Rhymer,

MacLaggan, James, . 234 Thomson, James, Falconer, William, 235 Macneill, Hector,

307 Fergusson, Robert, 327 Macpherson, James, 271 Wardlaw, Lady, .

Maitland, Sir Richard, . 38 | Wilson, Alexander, Gall, Richard, . 551 Mallet, David, .

162 Wilson, Florence, Geddes, Alexander, 269 Mary Queen of Scots, 57 Wilson, John, . Grahame, James, 403 | Mayne, John,

373 | Wyntoun, Andrew,

527

45 344 461

81 192 187 201 416

70 540

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THE

POETS AND POETRY OF

OF SCOTLAND.

PERIOD 1219 TO 1776.

THOMAS THE RHYMER.

Born 1219 - DIED 1299.

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Yo little is known with certainty concerning | did bear that name. His territorial appella

Thomas the Rhymer, the “day-starre" of tion as proprietor of a mount or hill at ErcilScottish poetry, that even his name has long doune may have grown into Laird of Ersilbeen a subject of controversy. No other bard mount, and have gradually become converted of ancient or modern times is more rich in into Larsilmount or Learmont.1 designations. Commonly called Thomas the But whatever may have been his name, he Rhymer, he is also known as Thomas Rymer, was undoubtedly a gentleman of condition, and Sir Thomas Learmont or Lermont, Thomas of his wife is believed to have been a daughter of Ercildoune, and Thomas Rymer of Erceldon, the knight of Thirletane, an ancestor of the the name given to him by his son, and one Earls of Lauderdale. The same uncertainty that existed in the poet's native county of concerning his proper designation also exists Berwickshire during the thirteenth century. in respect to the exact time of his birth. Sir In the year 1296 one John Rimour, a Berwick. Walter Scott, who styles him the earliest Scotshire freeholder, did homage, in company with tish poet, conjectures that he was born between others, to Edward I. King of England. The 12:26 and 1229, while later authorities assign fact that persons named Learmoth still claim | 1219 as the year of his birth. the right of sepulchre in the churchyard at The family to which Thomas belonged seems Earlston as representing Thomas the Rhymer, to bave taken its territorial title from Ercil. is a fact in favour of the supposition that he

have the wings of the bird, that he might fly "to · The biographers of Russia's greatest poet, with the the west, to the west, where shine the fields of my Kingle exception of Alexander Pushkin, claim for ancestors," and where in the deserted tower among the Michael Lermontof (1811-41) whose Scottish ance-- misty bills rests their forgotten dust." Above the sword tort settlol in Poland in the seventeenth century, and and shield hanging on the ancient walls he would fly, he from theuce passed into the dominions and service of cries, and with his wing flick off the gathered dust of the first Tsar of the Romanoff dynasty-kinship with the father of Scottish poetry. Lermontof often refers

"And the chords of the harp of Scotland would I touch, in his poems to the home of bis forefathers.

And its sounds would fly along the vaults,

By me alone awakened, by me alone listened to; “ Beneath the curtain of mist,

No sooner resounding thau dying away."
Beneath a heaven of storms,
Among the hills of my Sotland,

But vain are his fancies, he adds his fruitless prayers
Lies the grave of Orrian;

to be delivered froni the harslı laws of fate-
Thither flies my weary soul,
To breathe its native gale,

“Between me and the hills of my fatherland And from that forgotten grave,

Spread the waves of seas;
A second time to draw its life.”

The last scion of a race of hardy warriors
And in another porn called "The Wish," he longs to

Withers away amid alien snous,"

ages.

In one he

doune, or according to modern corruption Earl

"For such, or he decess, ston, a small village situated on the Leader, Mony thousand on feild shal mak thar end.

And Scotland thriss he sall bring to the pess; two miles above its junction with the Tweed.

So gud of hand agayne sall nevir be kend." He himself resided in a Border keep at the south-western extremity of this hamlet, the “The popular tale of the neighbourhood ruins of which, called “Rhymer's Tower," are, relates," says Sir Walter in a note to his Borafter the lapse of six centuries, still to be seen; der Minstrelsy, that “Thomas was carried off and on a stone in the front wall of the church at an early age to Fairy Land, where he acquired of Earlston is the inscription :

all the knowledge which afterwards made him

famous. After seven years' residence he was "Auld Rhymer's race Lies in this place."

permitted to return to the earth to enlighten

and astonish the world by his prophetic Tradition says that this stone with its modern- powers; still, however, being bound to return ized spelling was transferred from the old to his royal mistress (the Queen of the Fairies) church, which stood at a distance of a few yards whenever she should intimate her pleasure. from the existing building ; also that it was Accordingly, Thomas was making merry with substituted for a very ancient stone destroyed his friends in the Tower of Ercildoune, when a in 1782. The poet probably lived to be more person came running in with fear and astonishthan threescore and ten. He is known to ment, and told that a hart and hind had left have died before, or early in, the year 1299, as the neighbouring forest, and were composedly that is the date of a charter granted by his and slowly parading the street of the village. son and heir to the Trinity House at Soltra, The poet arose instantly and followed the aniin which he calls himself filius et hares Thomæ mals to the forest, whence he was never seen Rymour de Ercellon. Henry the Minstrel to return. According to the popular belief he represents the poet to have been a companion. still .drces his weird' (undergoes his doom) in in-arms of Sir William Wallace in 1296; so if Fairy Land, and is expected, at some future day, this authority is to be credited the poet died to revisit the earth." between that period and the date of his son's Robert de Brunne, an English writer who was document.

contemporary with Thomas of Erceldoune, Among his countrymen Thomas is celebrated commemorates him as the author of a metrical is a prophet no less than a poet. The pro romance entitled “Sir Tristrem,” which was phecies of Thomas the Rhymer were first pub. supposed to be lost, till a copy of it was dislished in Latin and English, early in the seven- covered among the Auchinleck manuscripts teenth century. Barbour, Wyntoun, and Blind in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and Harry each refer to his prophetic character. published in 1804, with an introduction and The Bishop of St. Andrews is introduced by notes by Sir Walter Scott. It was for a long Barbour as saying, after Bruce had slain the time to Robert de Brunne alone that we owed Red Cumin

the preservation of Thomas the Rhymer's fame “I hop Thomas' prophecy

as a poet. In the “Prolog“ to his Annals, Off Hersildoune, were fyd be

| written about 1338, he thus records his admirIn him; for swa our Loril help me,

ation of Sir Tristrem :---
I haiff gret hop he schall be king,
And haiff this land all in leding."

"Sir Tristrem

Over Gestes! it has the 'steem? Wyntoun's words are these:

Over all that is, or tras.” “Of this sscht qubilum spak Thomas

The recovery of this poem is of the more conOf Erceldoune, that sayd in derne, Thare sul meet stalu arty, stark, and sterne.

sequence that it presents us, in its original He said it in his prophecie

simplicity, with a story of great celebrity, which But how he wist, it was ferly."

was subsequently altered and perverted into a Blind Harry represents Rhymer as saying. on

thousand degenerate forms by the diseurs of being falsely informed that Sir William Wal- Normandy. Sir Tristrem was one of the ancient lace was dead

1 Romances.

o Esteem.

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heroes of Wales, and if we can trust ancient while the conquerors only deigned to employ authorities acted a distinguished part in the their native French, the mixed language now history of King Arthur and the knights of the called English only existed as a kind of lingua Round Table. Gottfried of Strasburg, a Ger- franca to conduct the necessary intercourse man minstrel of the thirteenth century, says between the victors and the vanquished. It ** that many of his profession told the tale of was not till the reign of Henry III. that this Sir Tristrem imperfectly and incorrectly, but dialect had assumed a shape fit for the purthat he derived his authority from “Thomas of poses of the poet; and even then the indolence Britannia,' master of the art of romance, who or taste of the minstrels of that period induced had read the history in British books, and them to prefer translating the Anglo-Norman knew the lives of all the lords of the land, and and French romances which had stood the test made them known to us.” The poem is written of years, to the more precarious and laborious in what Robert de Brunne calls

task of original composition. It is the united

opinion of Wharton, Tyrwhitt, and Ritson, that "so quainte Inglis

there exists no English romancel prior to the That many one wate not what it is;"

days of Chaucer which is not a translation of and Sir Walter Scott has drawn from this cir- some earlier French one." While the kings cumstance, combined with the originality of and knights of England were entertained with the romance, a conclusion of so much impor- chivalric tales, told in the French languagetance to the literary fame of Scotland, that we by the lais of Marie, the romances of Chretien are induced to give it in his own words. de Foyes, or the fableaux of the trouveurs—the

* It will follow," says Sir Walter, “that legends of Scotland, which could boast of never the first classical English romance was written having owned a victor's sway, were written in in part of what is now Scotland; and the atten- that Anglo-Saxon-Pictish mixture knowri by tive reader will find some reason to believe that the name of Inglis or English. Thomas the our language received the first rudiments of Rhymer, and other Scottish poets whose works improvement in the very corner where it now have now perished, had been famed throughexists in its most debased state. In England out Europe for romances written in their native it is now generally admitted that after the language—the language of Chaucer, a hundred Norman conquest, while the Saxon language vears before “- the day-starre of English poetry" was abandoned to the lowest of the people, and

was born.

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