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and are creditable to his good feeling and good sense; Captain Alexander Montgomery, whose allegory of 'The Cherry and the Slae, published in 1597, is remarkable for the facility and flow of the language, and long continued a popular favourite, its peculiar metre (which, however, is of earlier origin than this poem) having been on several occasions adopted by Burns; and Alexander Hume, who was a clergyman and died in 1609, having published a volume of Hymns, or Sacred Songs, in his native dialect, in 1599. Other Scottish poets of the sixteenth century, of whom nothing or next to nothing is known except the names, and a few short pieces attributed to some of them, are John Maitland lord Thirlstane (second son of Sir Richard), Alexander Arbuthnot, who was a clergyman, Clapperton, Flemyng, John Blyth, Moffat, Fethy, Balnavis, Sempil, Norval, Allan Watson, George Bannatyne (the writer of the Bannatyne manuscript in the Advocates' Library), who was a canon of the cathedral of Moray, and Wedderburn, the supposed author of the Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs, of which the first edition in all probability appeared in the latter part of this century, and also, according to one theory, of The Complaint of Scotland, published in 1548.* But it is possible that some of these names may belong to a date anterior to that of Lyndsay. King James also, before his accession to the English throne, published in Edinburgh two collections of Scottish verse by himself; the first, in 1585, entitled The Essays of a Prentice in the Divine Art of Poesy; the other, in 1591, His Majesty's Poetical Exercises at vacant hours; but the royal inspiration is peculiarly weak and flat. In
* See Sketches, First Series, vol. ii. p. 243.
the whole course, we believe, of the seventeenth century not even the name of a Scottish poet or versifier
The next that appeared was Allan Ramsay, who was the contemporary of Thomson, and must be accounted the proper successor of Sir David Lyndsay, after the lapse of more than a century and a half. Ramsay was born in 1686, and lived till 1758. He belongs to the order of self-taught poets, his original profession having been that of a barber; his first published performance, his clever continuation of the old poem of Christ's Kirk on the Green (attributed by some to James I. of Scotland, by others to James V.) appeared in 1712; his Gentle Shepherd, in 1725; and he produced besides numerous songs and other shorter pieces, from time to time. Ramsay's verse is in general neither very refined nor very imaginative, but it has always more or less in it of true poetic life.
His lyrics, with all their frequent coarseness, are many of them full of rustic hilarity and humour; and his well-known pastoral, though its dramatic pretensions otherwise are slender enough, for nature and truth both in the characters and manners may rank with the happiest compositions of its class. To this same age of the revival of Scottish poetry also belongs nearly the whole of that remarkable body of national song known as the Jacobite minstrelsy, forming altogether as animated and powerful an expression of the popular feeling, in all its varieties of pathos, humour, indignation, and scorn, as has anywhere else been embodied in verse. It is almost all anonymous too, as if it had actually sprung from the general heart of the people, or formed itself spontaneously in the air of
land. Probably, some of the many other Scottish
songs and ballads no authors of which are known may have been produced among the peasantry themselves, even during the long interval of the first hundred years after the union of the crowns, to which there belongs no name of a Scottish poet, nor any poetry written or printed in that dialect. It is reasonable to suppose
that Allan Ramsay must have had a line of predecessors of his own class, and that in this way the stream of native song flowed as it were underground, or hidden among the herbage, from its disappearance with Lyndsay till it re-emerged in him. But it was the exile of the old royal family, followed by the two successive romantic at.tempts of their adherents to restore them to the throne, that first blew again into a blaze the fire of poetry that lived in the national heart, and enabled it to break through the rigorous incrustment under which it had been oppressed and all but extinguished ever since the Reformation. This was the first decided revolt of the spirit of poetry against that of presbytery,
THE NOVELISTS, RICHARDSON, FIELDING, SMOLLETT.
A very remarkable portion of the literature of the middle of the last century is the body of prose fiction, the authors of which we familiarly distinguish as the modern English novelists, and which in some respects may be said still to stand apart from everything in the language produced either before or since. If there be any writer entitled to step in before Richardson and Fielding in claiming the honour of having originated the English novel, it is Daniel Defoe. But, admirable as Defoe is for his inventive power and his art of narrative, he can hardly be said to have left us any diversified picture of the social life of his time, and he is rather a great raconteur than a novelist, strictly and properly so called. He identifies himself, indeed, as perfectly as any writer ever did with the imaginary personages whose adventures he details ;-but still it is adventures he deals with rather than either manners or characters. It may be observed that there is seldom or ever anything peculiar or characteristic in the language of his heroes and heroines; some of them talk, or write, through whole volumes, but all in the same style; in fact, as to this matter, every one of them is merely a repetition of Defoe himself. Nor even in professed dialogue is he happy in individualizing his characters by their manner of expressing themselves; there may be the employment occasionally of certain distinguishing phrases, but the adaptation of the speech to the speaker seldom goes much beyond such mere mechanical artifices; the heart and spirit do not flash out as they do in nature; we may remember Robinson Crusoe's man Friday by his broken English, but it is in connexion with the fortunes of their lives only, of the full stream of incident and adventure upon which they are carried along, of the perils and perplexities in which they are involved, and the shifts they are put to, that we think of Colonel Jacque, or Moll Flanders, or even of Robinson Crusoe himself. What character they have to us is all gathered from the circumstances in which they are placed ; very little or none of it from either the manner or the matter of their dis
Even their conduct is for the most part the result of circumstances; any one of them acts, as well as speaks, very nearly as any other would have done similarly situated. Great and original as he is in his
line, and admirable as the fictions with which he has enriched our literature are for their other merits, Defoe has created no character which lives in the national mind — no Squire Western, or Trulliber, or Parson Adams, or Strap, or Pipes, or Trunnion, or Lesmahago, or Corporal Trim, or Uncle Toby. He has made no attempt at any such delineation. It might be supposed that a writer able to place himself and his readers so completely in the midst of the imaginary scenes he describes would have excelled in treating a subject dramatically. But, in truth, his genius was not at all dramatic. With all his wonderful power of interesting us by the air of reality he throws over his fictions, and carrying us along with him whithersoever he pleases, he has no faculty of passing out of himself in the dramatic spirit, of projecting himself out of his own proper nature and being into those of the creations of his brain. However strong his conception was of other things, he had no strong conception of character. Besides, with all his imagination and invention, he had little wit, and no humour- no remarkable skill in any other kind of representation except merely that of the plain literal truth of things. Vivid and even creative as his imagination was, it was still not poetical. It looked through no atmosphere of ideal light at anything; it saw nothing adorned, beautified, elevated above nature; its gift was to see the reality, and no more. Its pictures, therefore, partake rather of the character of fac-similes than of that of works of art in the true sense, On turning our eyes from his productions to those either of Fielding or Richardson, we feel at once the spell of quite another sort of inventive or creative power. Yet no two writers could