Imágenes de página

fore he would face the determined the country of more than one of those tinkler, he requested authority from pugilists. the magistrate to defend himself with Old Jamie Robison, brother-in-law his broad sword, should he be attack- to Wilson before mentioned, was an ed ; and in case the prisoner became excellent musician, and was in great desperate, to cut him down. This request at fairs and country weddings. permission being obtained, he drew his He, sometimes with his wife and nusword, and, as stated to me, he, with merous sisters, danced in a particular the assistance of the jailor's daughter, fashion, changing and regulating the unbarred the doors, till he came to the figures of the dance by means of a cage, where the fire was kindled, and bonnet. When his wife and sisters from whence the prison was filled with got themselves intoxicated, which was clouds of smoke. The serjeant, as he often the case, and himself more than advanced to the door, with a loud voice half seas over, it was a wild and extraasked, “who is there?” “The devil,” vagant scene to see these light-footed vociferated the gypsey through fire damsels, with loose and flowing hair, and smoke. “I am also a devil, and dancing with great vigour on the grass of the Black Watch," thundered back in an open field, while Jamie was, the intrepid Highlander, the Black with all his might and main, like the Watch being the ancient name of his devil playing to the witches in “ Tam gallant regiment. This resolute reply o’Shanter," keeping these bacchanaof the soldier was like death to the lians in fierce and animating music. artful tinkler-he knew his man-it When James was like to flag in his daunted him completely; and after exertions to please them, they have some threats from the serjeant, he been heard calling loudly to him, like quietly allowed himself to be again Maggy Lauder to Rob the Ranter, the loaded with irons, and thoroughly se- piper, “play up, Jamie Robison, if cured in his cell, from whence he did ever we do weel it will be a wonder," not stir till the day of his execution. being totally regardless of all sense of

George Brown, another member of decency, and decorum whatever. the clan Brown in the north, resided But notwithstanding all this dissofor sometime at Lynn Rigis in Eng- luteness of manners, and professed land, where his children followed the roguery, this man Robison, when trusttrade of tinkers. He had been in the ed, was strictly honest. A decent man army in his youth, and is described to in his neighbourhood, of the name of me by a gentleman who had seen him Robert Gray, many a time lent him in the south, as a man possessed of sums of money to purchase large ox prodigious personal strength and prow- horns, and other articles, in the east of ess. He was often encountered by Fife. He always paid him on the very professed bullies and scientific pugi- day he promised, with the greatest lists in the sister kingdom. He was punctuality and civility. The followof a mild temper and inoffensive man- ing anecdote will show the zeal which ners, when not roused by provocation. he once displayed in resenting an inHe had a peculiar mode of his own in sult which he conceived to be offered treating these boxers. He did not to his friend Mr Gray. waste time for the purpose of amusing In one of his excursions through the amateurs of this entertainment, Fife, he happened to be lying on the by throwing out artful guards, par- ground, basking himself in the sun, rying off well aimed blows, or pute and baiting his ass on the road-side, ting in ingenious hits. He instant- when a countryman, who was an enly closed with his antagonist, and, tire stranger to him, came past, singgrappling with him, clapped his ing to himself, in lightness of heart, clinched fist like an iron bolt to his a Scottish song, which, unfortunately stomach, and, by pressing forward with for the man, Jamie had never heard all his might, without allowing his op- before ; and on the unconscious stranponent time to recover himself, he, as ger coming to the words in the ditty, it were, squeezed the breath of life out “ Auld Robin Gray was a kind man of his body, something like the way to me,” the hot-blooded gypsey startin which I have seen a boy with both ed to his feet, and, with his bludgeon, hands crack the wind out of an inflat- accompanied with a volley of oaths, ed bladder. It was understood that brought the poor fellow to the ground, he had, in this expeditious manner, rid repeating his blows in a violent mana


him a

ner, telling him in his passion, that marriages, when some account of the “ Auld Robin Gray was a kind man priest, if I may so call him, and the to him indeed, but it was not enough parties concerned, will be necessary, for him to make a song on Robin for in explaining the ceremonies observed that.” He had nearly put this inno- on these occasions.

W. S. cent traveller to death in the heat of 12th June 1818. his indignation, thinking that he was satirizing his friend in a scurrilous song

It was an invariable custom with Robison, that whenever he passed Robert Gray's house, although it WILLIAM RUSSELL, LL. D. should have been at the dead hour of night, he always drew out his “ bread 'Αλλ' ύστερον μεν ήλθον, εν καιρώ δ' όμως. winner," and serenaded him with a few of his best airs, in gratitude for WILLIAM RUSSELL, the eldest son of his kindness.

Alexander Russell and Christian Bal. I find, amongst a good deal of other lantyne, was born in the year 1741 at information which has come into my Windydoors, a farm-house in the hands on this subject, that English county of Selkirk. At a proper age gypsies entered Scotland disguised like he was sent to the neighbouring school gentlemen, in the same manner as we of Inverleithen, where he acquired a find Sandie Brown, whom I spoke of slender knowledge of the Greek and before, had been traversing England. Latin languages; but private study Graham of Lochgellie once in parti- afterwards enabled him to supply many cular recognised, by signal, one of these of the deficiencies of his early educascouts, or ambassadors, perambulating tion. the county of Fife, well mounted in In 1756 he was removed to Edinall respects on horseback. Graham burgh, in order to be instructed in had never seen him before. He called writing and arithmetic; and after hava

traveller," and they were ex. ing attended to these branches for aceedingly happy at meeting with one bout ten months, he was bound an another. This stranger and travelling apprentice to the bookselling and brother was taken to Lochgellie, and printing business for the term of five there feasted and entertained with all years. While engaged in this occuthe hospitality and kindness peculiar pation, he discovered the utmost arto the tribe. Female gypsies from dour in literary pursuits; nor was his England have also been seen in this situation altogether unfavourable to county. About thirty years since, the acquisition of knowledge. one of these females was observed tell- After the completion of his apprening fortunes here. She had an asto- ticeship, he published a select collecnishing knowledge of towns in differ- tion of modern poems, which was faent parts of the world. Her stature vourably received. The first edition was very tall, with a strong robust per- I have never seen : the second bears

Her eye-brows had the appear- the following title. 66 The Select ance of being very much arched, in Poems of our mo celebrated contemconsequence of the hair, with part of porary British Poets : viz. Dr Akenthe skin of the brow, being painted or side, Mr Gray, Mr Mason, W. Shenstained, after the manner of the Ara- stone, Esq. Mr W. Collins, Lord bians and Persians, with a brown co- Lyttleton, Mess. Wartons, Mr Blacklour, made of juice extracted from lock, Mr Beattie, Mr Ogilvie, etc. certain herbs. She was dressed in an Vol. I. second edition, with additions." uncommon manner; her clothes were Edinb. 1764, 12mo.—He afterwards in good condition.; and her petticoats congratulated himself on having condid not reach below the calves of her tributed to extend the popularity of legs. She spoke in a commanding tone; Gray and Shenstone in the northern had altogether a very imposing aspect; part of the island. It may, I think, and was attended by a party of our be mentioned as a proof of his classiown Scottish vagrants.

cal taste, that at this early period of I have now given you some notion his life he entertained the highest adof the gypsies of Fife, and will ere miration for the sublime odes of Gray; long detail to you the extraordinary which he was accustomed to recite in proceedings which take place at their a wild and enthusiastic manner.


In the year 1763, while employed himself as a corrector to the press of as a journeyman-printer, he became a William Strahan, afterwards printer member of a literary association deno- to his majesty. To find himself thus ininated the Miscellaneous Society, placed in a situation so inadequate to which was composed of students and his expectations, and so unworthy of other young men engaged in the pur- his abilities, must have cast a temposuit of knowledge. This juvenile so- rary gloom over his mind; but the ciety included several other individuals freshness of youth, added to the natwho afterwards acquired distinction; ural vivacity of his mind, would have and among these were the Right Hon. enabled him to support even greater Sir Robert Liston, and Mr Andrew disappointments. In some brief noDalzel, the late professor of Greek. tices found among


after his About this period he made an at- decease, he mentions his expectations tempt to adapt Crebillon's Rhada- of preferment through the interest of misthe et Zenobie to the English stage. these individuals; but he does not The manuscript was submitted to the aver that his expectations were foundinspection of Mr Liston and Mr Dal- ed on their promises. The disappointzel; who, after a very careful perusal, ments of human life may very frestated several objections to particular quently be referred to the unreasonpassages. This tragedy was at length ableness of our anticipations. rejected by Mr Garrick, the manager In the year 1769 he quitted Mr of Drury-lane. Murphy's Zenobia was Strahan's, and was employed as overat that time in rehearsal; and if the seer of the printing-office of Brown merit of Russell's play had been high- and Adlard. During the same year ly conspicuous, it probably would not he published an Ode to Fortitude ; then have been accepted.

which was immediately reprinted at In 1764 he issued proposals for pub- Edinburgh by his former masters, lishing a second volume of his collec- Martin and Wotherspoon. tion of poems, which however never His Sentimental Tales appeared in made its appearance.

He retired to 1770; and from this time he wrote the country in order to arrange the many essays in prose and verse for the materials; and about this period he periodical publications. In 1772 he maintained an epistolary correspon- published a collection of Fables, Moral dence with Lord Elibank, Dr Ogilvie, and Sentimental, and “ An Essay on and Mr Dalzel; to whose friends the Character, Manners, and Genius ship his youthful ingenuity had re- of Women; from the French of M. commended him. In the course of Thomas.” In 1774 appeared his Jum the ensuing year, Lord Elibank, who lia, a Poetical Romance. Of this latter was himself a man of literature, invit- work, which is founded on the Noua ed him to his seat in the county of velle Heloise of Rousseau, neither the Haddington, where he spent the great- plan nor the execution can be comer part of the autumn, and had an op- mended. portunity of conversing with many In the estimate of his literary chaeminent men. To this nobleman he racter, Russell dissented from the pubseems to have looked for favour and lic opinion: his historical works, which protection: the hope of obtaining pre- have met with a very favourable rea ferment through his influence, had ception, he considered as greatly infeinduced him to relinquish the drudgery rior to his poetical works, which have of his original employment; and in been totally neglected. But his friends the mean time he continued to prose- certainly had no reason to regret that cute his studies, particularly in the the collective edition of his poems, departments of history and polite li- which he long meditated, never made terature.

its appearance. In the following sarHaving resided with his father till castic verses of his ingenious countrythe month of May 1767, he set out man Mickle, his elegy on the death of for London, probably with high hopes Hume is not mentioned with much of future success.

But his hopes were commendation. soon blasted: after having in vain waited for promotion through the in- Silence, ye noisy wolves and bears, fluence of Mr Hume, Lord Elibank, Hark, how upon the muse’s hill

And hear the song of Russell ; General Murray, and Governor John

This bard kicks up a bustle ! stone, he was under the necessity of He calls the muses lying jades, contracting his views, and engaging A pack of venal strumpets ; VOL. III.

3 E

[ocr errors]

And reason good, for none of them excellence is only a dazzling meteor, The death of David trumpets.

and must be forgotten in a few years But what-shall Shakspeare's muse bedew

at most.-Players have sometimes been This David's leaden urn ? Or at his tomb, 0 Milton, say,

extravagantly extolled, particularly by Shall thy Urania mourn ?

grateful or aspiring poets who have Shall gentle Spenser's injured shade

written for the stage, * and it will unFor him attune the lay?

doubtedly be granted that a poet may No: none of these o'er his dull grave easily find a more dignified theme: Shall strew one leaf of bay.

but supreme excellence in any ingeni. To him, the modern Midas, these

ous art seems to be no improper subNo grateful chaplets owe ;

ject of panegyric; and so rare and difYet shall his friends with proper wreaths ficult are the fleeting attainments of a

Adorn his heavy brow.
For him shall Russell rant and rave

great actor, that it may be considered In hobbling rumbling lays ;

as a generous exertion of the poetic And Smith in barbarous sleepy prose

talent to rescue them from oblivion. Shall grunt and croak his praise. *

Pity it is,” exclaims a celebrated coRussell is the author of the verses

median, “ that the momentary beauon the death of Dr Armstrong, signed ties flowing from an harmonious eloW. R. and dated from Gray's Inn, cution, cannot, like those of poetry, Sept. 10, 1779, which are commonly

be their own reward ! that the ani. printed with the poems of that classi mated graces of the player can live no cal writer.

longer than the instant breath and Before this period he had apparent, motion that presents them; or at best ly relinquished his connexion with

can but faintly glimmer through the the printing-office, and had entirely memory, or imperfect recollection of a devoted himself to the pursuits of li- few surviving spectators!” terature. His History of America was

The three volumes which complete published in numbers, and completed the History of Modern Europe made in the course of the same year. This their appearance in 1784. From the publication was not unfavourably re

manuscript notices to which I have ceived ; but the splendid merit of Dr already referred, it appears that in the Robertson's work precluded all com

composition of each of these five vopetition.

lumes Russell spent about twelve During the same year, 1779, he

months. This work, which is the likewise published, in octavo, the first chief foundation of his reputation, two volumes of The History of Mo- possesses great merit as a popular view dern Europe ; and their reception was

of a very extensive period of history. so favourable as to exceed his most

The author displays no inconsiderable sanguine expectations.

judgment in the selection of his leadHis studies experienced a temporary

ing incidents, and in the general arinterruption in 1780, when he em- rangement of his materials; and he barked for Jamaica in order to recover

seems to have studied the philosophy some money, due to him as the heir of history with assiduity and success. of his brother James, who, after a re

His narrative is always free from lansidence of several years, had died in that island. He afterwards resumed

In a

poem addressed to Garrick by W. his historical labours, which were oc

Whitehead, the following verses occur : casionally interrupted by his love of

A nation's taste depends on you,

Perhaps a nation's virtue too. poetry. In the year 1783 he publish- Both these lines are sufficiently ridiculous. ed The Tragic Muse, a poem address- When Foote conceived the design of exhi. ed to Mrs Siddons. To address verses biting a burlesque imitation of the Stratford to a player has been considered as be- jubilee, they were not forgotten.

“ In this neath the dignity of the literary cha- mock procession a fellow was to be dressed racter It would be a crime, said a

up, and made as much like Mr Garrick as periodical writer, to sacrifice genius on possible. It was intended that some ragasuch an uninteresting occasion : we

muffin in the procession should address

Roscius in the well-known lines of the poet have more dignified subjects for the

laureat, poetic muse than an individual whose

A nation's taste depends on you,

Perhaps a nation's virtue too. See the Poetical Works of William The representer of Mr Garrick was to make Julius Mickle; including several original no answer, but to cry, 'Cock-a-doodle-do!"" pieces, with a new Life of the Author, by (Davies's Life of Garrick, vol. ii. p. 270.) the Rev. John Sim, A. B. late of St Alban + Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber, Hall, Oxford. Lond. 1806, 12mo.

chap iv.

[ocr errors]

guor; and his liberal reflections are This production partakes of the pecuconveyed in a lively and elegant style. liar merits of his modern history ; but It may however be regretted that he as the author did not live to complete should have adopted the expedient of his design, it has never arrived at any producing his work as a series of let- considerable degree of popularity. The ters from a nobleman to his son: every greater proportion of these two voreader is sufficiently aware that Dr lumes relates to the history of Greece ; Russell did not belong to the order of which of late has been ably treated by nobility; and the frequent recurrence Dr Gillies and Mr Mitford.* of “ my dear Philip” is too apt to re- Dr Russell did not long survive the mind us of the heartless frivolity of publication of this work: before the Lord Chesterfield.

close of the same year, a stroke of pala This work has often been reprinted, sy suddenly terminated his life. He and still continues to maintain its ori- was interred in Westerkirk churchginal popularity Russell closes his yard ; where his grave is distinguishe history with the peace of Paris in ed by a plain stone, bearing the sub1763; and an able continuation, ex- sequent inscription : “ Sacred to the tending to two volumes, has recently Memory of William Russell, LL. D. been added by Charles Coote, LL. D. who died at Knottyholm in the parish a learned civilian of Doctors Commons. of Cannobie, December the 25, 1793,

In the year 1787 he married Miss aged 52 years.” Scott, a lady to whom he had long This ingenious man left a widow been attached, and in whom he found and a daughter, who still reside at a pleasant and intelligent companion. Knottyholm. I am indebted to Mrs He now entered upon the occupation Russell for the free use of his papers, of a comfortable farm at Knottyholm, as well as for some of the statements distant about five miles from the town contained in this sketch of his life. of Langholm in Dumfriesshire ; and Besides two complete tragedies, enfixed his residence in an elegant cot- titled Zenobia and Pyrrhus, he left in tage, delightfully situated on the banks manuscript an Analysis of Bryant's of the Esk. Here he spent the re- Mythology, and the following unfinmainder of his days. In this neigh- ished productions. bourhood there were several intelli- 1. The Earl of Strafford, a tragedy. gent individuals, with whom he lived 2. Modern Life, a comedy. in habits of intimacy; and one of the

3. The Love Marriage, an opera. most conspicuous of these was the late 4. Human Happiness, a poem intended John Maxwell, Esq. of Broomholm,

to have been comprised in four books. who was particularly distinguished for of the Progress of Mankind in the Know

5. An Historical and Philosophical View his knowledge of the theory of music.

ledge of the Terraqueous Globe. In 1792 the university of St An- 6. The History of Modern Europe, Part drews conferred upon him the degree III. from the peace of Paris in 1763, to the of Doctor of Laws. The flattering re- general pacification in 1783, including an ception of his last publication had in- Account of the American War, and of the duced him to retrace his steps ; and European Transactions in the East Indies. during the following year he published in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to

his Son. at London, in two volumes octavo, “ The History of Ancient Europe; ginning of the reign of George III. to the

7. The History of England from the bewith a View of the Revolutions in conclusion of the American War. Asia and Africa. In a Series of Let- In the composition ot the last of ters to a Young Nobleman.” In the these works Dr Russell was engaged composition of this work, he professes at the time of his death. It was to be to have been peculiarly studious to comprised in three volumes octavo; for found his facts on original authorities, the copy-right of which Mr Cadell had and to clear the narrative of unimpor- stipulated to pay him seven hundred tant events. He seems however to and fifty pounds. David IRVING, have allotted too many pages to the Edinburgh, 24 June 1818. poetical details of the Trojan war.

Mr Maxwell published, without the * Dr Coote has lately published “ The name of the author, “ An Essay upon History of Ancient Europe ; in a Series of Tune ; being an Attempt to free the Scale Letters from a Gentleman to his Son : inof Music, and the Tune of Instruments, tended as an accompaniment to Dr Russell's froin Imperfection." Edinb. 1781, 8vo. History of Modern Europe.” Lond. 1815,

3 vols 8vo,

Pp. 290.

« AnteriorContinuar »