« ForrigeFortsæt »
around us. Even in the minor quali- retard, the fate of inferior productions. fications of diction and style, the diffi- The history of this author affords one culties are not insurmountable. The of the strongest instances I remember imperfections of an infant language of the superiority of nature to fortune; are greater as an instrument of thought of the great length to which perseverthan as a vehicle of feeling ; according- ing talents can draw the slenderest ly, when the historian and philosopher means. A few years ago Mr Hogg find it unfit for their purposes, contem- was known only as an extraordinary porary poets often exhibit a richness, shepherd, who composed humorous strength, and propriety, which anti- songs for the rustics of Ettrick Forest, cipate the improvements of several or modulated softer love ditties on the centuries.
banks of the Yarrow. About the same But there is a state of society more time Mr Scott was beginning to direct unpropitious, and situations infinitely all men's eyes to the Border, and the less inviting, than those now supposed. unequivocal sovereignty he soon esWhen taste has received the last tablished over the public attention, touches of refinement, and composi- rendered any thing like rivalship, in tion its highest graces, should the that department, absurd, and emulaspirit of poetry inflame an untutored tion eminently hazardous. But Hogg, and illiterate mind, what are his pros- like every poet born, was an enthusiast. pects of success ? Ease and retirement, Instead of being struck dumb either if not indispensable to the perfection with envy or despair, as some birds of his higher attributes of fancy and are said to be by the voice of the imagination, are clearly so when cor- nightingale, --with modest assurance, rectness and elegance are essential to which he has since vindicated, he his purpose of affording delight. His struck a lower key, and supported no first productions are necessarily es- mean accompaniment. The defects teemed coarse and faulty; and though of his education were obviated by applause may predominate, the just se- unremitting attention to the strength verity even of friendly criticism chas- and copiousness of our own language, tens his confidence and self-esteem, and his taste speedily corrected by an and consequently removes half his active admiration of refined writers. strength. Add to these, the effects Hence almost every one of his numeproduced by perpetual descents to the rous publications, up to that just mendead level of vulgar life, the ex- tioned, improves on its predecessor, haustion of strength and spirits by although to all appearance he had few employments uncongenial to his dis- to teach him, and fewer opportunities positions, or, worse than all, perhaps of learning. His first essays remind the subjection of the mind itself to us of our native poets in the sixteenth some dull monotonous pursuit, and century, The Queen's Wake does honyou will have an idea of the merits our to the present. I am happy to of such resolute persons as have en- learn that another edition of this work countered these difficulties, and, in is at present publishing by subscription defiance of them, attained the highest for the benefit of the author, who, like eminence in the art of which I am most of his brethren, has had cause to speaking, and be disposed to deplore complain of fortune,-and, like too the far greater number who have per- many of them, with but partial reished under them.
dress. The observations accompaOur own times, I take pleasure to nying the proposals, come, I underobserve, are not without one example stand, from a gentleman who has conof the first sort,—of one who, by the tributed much to the reputation of mere force of natural parts, has raised this country and age, and to the dehis name from obscurity to the first light of all the lovers of poetry and rank, and divided the public favour polite letters,--not only by his own with others equally endowed, but pen, but also by an affectionate ate much more happily circumstanced tention to the rising merit of others. than himself. I allude to the author There is nothing, I think, more pleasof The Queen's Wake, a work of which ing than such cordial friendship and we now judge without finding it ne- esteem between men distinguished by cessary to make allowances for the ac- similar excellencies, and the rather becidents of education and training, cause the experience of former times which sometimes smooth, but seldom renders it unexpected.
upon the Clyde, near Glasgow: That SITTING BELOW THE SALT," AND
Sir Allan Stewart of Daldowie (grandTHE STEWARTS OF ALLANTON.
son to Sir Robert,) obtained, on acAudi alteram partem.
count of his valour in 1385, from King
Robert II., his father's second cousin, MR EDITOR,
the rank of knight banneret, together As it was once my intention to write with the honourable addition of the an account of the antiquities of the lion-passant, or English lion, to his midland counties of this kingdom, and paternal coat armorial ;-as also, on as I made some investigations for that the same account, the lands of Allanpurpose, both in the public archives ton, in Allcathmuir, from the church and the repositories of individuals, ! in 1420. Moreover, that I had seen was surprised to see, in your useful charters and seasines, in the possession Magazine for April last, (in a curious of his posterity, from 1460 and 1492 disquisition on the ancient custom of downwards ; since which time they “ Sitting below the Salt,") a very er
have intermarried with some of the roneous account of a family in Lanark- first families in the kingdom. Knowshire, of great antiquity and respecta- ing these things as I did, I own I was bility, I mean that of STEWART of surprised to observe his descendant, Sir ALLANTON. On looking over a list, Walter Stewart of Daldowie and Allana which I made at the time, of the most ton, described, in 1650, as the gooddistinguished names in that county, man of Allanton, and of a very mean I find this family classed with the family upon Clyde” !!! See Memoirs, Douglasses, the Hamiltons, the Lock- vol. II. p. 380.* harts of Lee, and some others, who, On applying to the worthy and as ancient barons and landholders, had learned Baronet who now represents had possessions there from a very re- this family, and inquiring whether mote period.
he had seen the article in your MagaThe passage in the article to which zine, he replied in the affirmative, I allude is taken from a book of some and laughed very good-naturedly at curiosity, “ The Memorie, or Memoirs the account, observing, that it was of the Somervilles," written by the quite fair from the pen of a Somereleventh Lord Somerville about 1680, ville, and as a production of the period. and edited two years since by that In regard to the pretensions to supeindefatigable writer, Mr Walter Scott. rior descent assumed by Lord SomerIn this publication, Sir Walter Stewart ville on the ground merely of his own of Daldowie and Allanton, and his statement, and as an apt counterpart brother, Sir James Stewart of Coltness, to the above delineation, he reminded are represented to be of a family of me of the well-known dialogue which Yeomen or Fewars, whose ancestors took place between the lion and the never had, until their day, (the mid- man in the fable, when each contended dle of the seventeenth century,) “Sat for the superiority, and which I need above the salt foot.” And further, not here repeat. It was on this occait is stated, seemingly as an extraor- sion that the former pointed out to dinary honour done to them, that the king of the forest, as a conclusive they actually did sit above the salt at argument in his own favour, à paintthe table of Somerville of Cam- ing, in which was represented a lion nethan, “ which for ordinary every Saboth they dyned at, as most of the honest men within the parish of any Mr Scott, observes in a note, (vol. I. p. 169,)
* On this and other passages, the editor, account.” See Memoirs, vol. II. p. that Remarks escape from the author's 394.
pen, unjustly derogatory to this ancient Now, sir,' I happened to know, that branch of the House of STEWART, to which this family came into Lanarkshire he himself was allied by the marriage of from Kyle and Renfrew, the ancient Janet Stewart of Darnley with the ancestor seat of the Lord High Stewards, as
of Sir Thomas Somerville." In this obserearly as 1290, and is lineally descend- vation I entirely agree with Mr Scott. But ed from Sir Robert Stewart, whose he might have added, with equal truth, that father, Sir John Stewart of Bonkle, blood nor ally by marriage, could escape the
neither friend nor foe, neither relative by (who was killed at the battle of Fale abuse of this irritable lord, if he only differkirk, anno 1298,) bestowed upon him ed from him in religious and political septi. in patrimony the barony of Daldowie, ments. VOL. I.
in contest with a man, crouching under vanity also; but he was frugal, dexterthe stroke, and yielding to the strength ous in the management of country afof his antagonist.
fairs, and had added to his estates by The learned Baronet, moreover, such judicious purchases, that they obligingly communicated to me, from greatly out-weighed the possessions of a MS. history of his family, which has his rival. But the pas, or precedency, been long preserved in it, some amus- universally given to Sir Walter both in ing anecdotes of the ancient feud that public and private, wounded the pride had subsisted between his ancestors of Somerville, and induced him to beand the Somervilles, of the inveteracy stow on his neighbour the slighting of which so many instances are detail- epithet of the “Goodman of Allanton ;' ed in Mr Scott's publication. And al- a salutation which Sir Walter never failthough such anecdotes must appear ed to retaliate in kind; so that that of rather uninteresting in the present day, the “Goodman of Camnethan" was as yet, I trust, you will admit the follow, courteously retorted, as often as opporing few particulars into your useful tunity offered. But this is a circumwork. In expressing this hope, I as- stance, which, though carefully recordsure, you, sir, that I act on no instruc- . ed in the Allanton MSS., the good tions from the gentleman in question; Lord Somerville has not thought probut I think it will not only appear as per to notice. Both, however, being a proof of that impartiality, for which fond of their pint-stoup of claret, they every public writer aspires to be dis- occasionally forgot these animosities at tinguished, but as a matter of justice the parish change-house, according to to a family, which certainly is at the the custom of the times, or at their rehead of one of the most ancient branches spective mansions; and as Camnethan's of the House of STEWART.
residence was in the immediate neighThe feud, it seems, which subsisted bourhood of the church, it was the fabetween the Stewarts and the Somer- shion of the day to wash down the servilles, was of very ancient standing, mon there, with copious potations of probably originating in some of those that exhilarating beverage. predatory excursions, or personal quar- It was probably at one of these conrels, which occupied the leisure, while vivial meetings that Lord Somerville they inflamed the passions, of a warlike met Sir Walter, and his brother, Sir race of men. Sir Walter Stewart and James Stewart of Kirkfield and ColtSomerville of Camnethan, it appears, ness,“ with most of the honest men had inherited the antipathies of their (as he says) within the parish, of any respective houses. Unlike each other account: And it was not unnatural in temper and pursuits, their animosi- in his Lordship to speak, in the lanty was imbittered by their religious guage of the family, of two of its most prejudices, and by their political and inveterate political opponents, and of parish disputes. For, while Sir Walter the only persons in the district, possupported, with all his might, the so- sessed of rank and fortune sufficient to lemn league and covenant (the popu- overshadow the consequence of his lar doctrine of the times), Somerville kinsman. The fact is, that both the adhered, with no less pertinacity, to vanity and the consequence of Somerthe episcopal principles of his ances- ville were soon not only overshadowed, tors; and no man, who contemplates but completely eclipsed, in Lanarkonly the milder influence of religious shire ; for Sir James Stewart, who opinions at present, can in any degree was a merchant and banker in Edinconceive their rancorous character near- burgh, and had acquired a handsome ly two centuries ago.
fortune in these honourable profesWhen other topics failed, the anti- sions,* actually purchased the greater quity of their families supplied a fruitful theme of jealousy and dissension, and was at that time an affair of no * He became commissary and paymastersmall interest as well as amusement to general, anno 1650, to the Scotch army untheir neighbours. Camnethan (accord- der General Leslie, which was defeated at
Dunbar by Oliver Cromwell; and, together ing to Lord Somerville, as well as the Stewart MSS.) was
with the Marquis of Argyle and the Earl of vain and expen- Eglinton, was one of the
three commissioners sive character, who, by a course of ex- who, on the part of the Scotch, held the travagance, had run out his estate. Sir
conference with Cromwell on Bruntsfield Walter, it appears, had his share of Links.
part of the Camnethan estate, leaving are also given at length in the Stewart the owner in possession of only the MSS.), are a sufficient evidence of his mansion-house, and an inconsiderable entering with eagerness into all the space adjoining to it. This last por- family quarrels. Hence his anxious tion, a few years after, was also dis- desire, on every occasion, to detract posed of to an advocate in Edinburgh, from the character, and lessen the of the name of Harper ; and it has importance, of both the brothers, Sir since passed, together with other pro- Walter and Sir James ; to represent perty of greater extent, into a younger them as fewars, “ from some antibranch of the Lee family.
quity,” however, of the Earl of TweedThere is another anecdote of these dale's, in Allcathmuir ; to describe two rival lairds, Sir Walter Stewart them as persons whose ancestors had and Somerville of Camnethan, which “ sat below the salt,” &c. &c.; all of is recorded in the family history above which, he himself must have felt, alluded to; and I shall beg leave to were what Tacitus calls Ignorantia mention it as illustrative of the cha- recti, et invidiu,* the mere ebullitions racters of both.
of party animosity,-of animosity of When Oliver Cromwell, after re- all others the most likely to go down ducing Scotland to subjection, directed with the uninformed among his own a valuation to be taken of the landed adherents, that it vilified their adverproperty of the kingdom (and which saries, and contained withal a certain constitutes the rule whereby the cess intermixture truth. But could Lord and sundry other public burdens are Somerville, even in imagination, have still paid), the Laird of Camnethan, anticipated that these his Memoirs anxious to exhibit his importance as a were to descend to posterity,--that landholder, gave in his rent-roll at an they were to be edited, in a future extravagant value, and, as it was sup- day, by one of the greatest geniuses posed, greatly beyond the truth. Sir of his age and nation, and, under the Walter, on the other hand, who would protection of his powerful name, sent have spilt the last drop of his blood in forth to pass current with the world, a contest for superiority on any other we may do him the justice to believe, occasion, when called upon for his re- that he would have repressed his envy, turn, took care to exhibit a statement and tempered party rancour with as greatly below the mark. On this, greater moderation. He seems, howhis neighbours, who knew of their ever, in his day, to have been what bickerings, did not fail to rally him, Dr Johnson called a “ good hater," for being thus surpassed by his rival, although, in the main, a very worthy although well known to be possessed and honourable man. of a far more valuable estate. But the
In regard to the term Fewar or wily knight, who guessed at the object Vassal, it must be known to every of the Protector's
policy, was resolved one, however slenderly versed in feuto act with becoming moderation on dal history, that it implied merely the such an occasion, and encouraged his condition of him who held an estate brother, Sir James, in the same pru- under the tenure of “ suit and service dent line of conduct. He therefore
to a superior lord,” without denoting only laughed at the transaction; quiet- any personal inferiority, or any degraly observing, that his neighbour's dation of rank. The greatest lords estate was bonny and bield, and all themselves, as well as barons of the lying on the Clyde;" whereas his own first distinction, often held lands of a (he said) was “ but cauld muirland, subject superior, and consequently as every body knew, and naething like were fewars or vassals-to that superior, Camnethan's.” Accordingly, the two who, in his turn, held them of the properties stand thus taxed and rated
Further, that a tenure of in the cess-books, down to the present lands from the church, in that period, period.
was considered nearly as honourable The bitterness with which Lord So- as one under the crown itself. Of both merville speaks of all his political op- of these holdings numerous examples ponents, and the soreness with which occur in the course of the Somerville he details his friend's contest with his Memoirs. See vol. i. pp. 114, 117, neighbour about changing the site of the parish church, and Sir Walter's
Insensibility to merit, and envy of successful application against him to the possession.” See Tacit. in Vit. Agricol. the General Assembly (which, I find, sul initio
REMARKS ON GREEK TRAGEDY.
&c. &c.—It appears that Sir Walter Stewart held one of his estates, namely that of Allanton, of the church, by
No III. which it was originally granted, as (Septem adversus Thebas Æschylialready mentioned, to his ancestor, Sir
EURIPIDIS Phænisse.) Allan of Daldowie. Soon after the Reformation, when the immense pro- The Chorus was the distinguishing perty of the clergy came to be parcelled feature of the Greek tragedy. It was out to the great lords who had interest composed of a company of men or at court, Lord Yester, the ancestor of women, who, though they are to be the Marquis of Tweeddale, obtained a considered as witnesses rather than grant of the whole barony of Allcath- personages of the play, were usually muir, as first vassal under the crown; connected with the principal characters and the “superiority” was retained by by the ties of domestic dependence, or that noble family until a late period. friendship, or country, and took a Thus the Somervilles, as it appears, deep interest in the events that were held some of their estates of subjects passing. They remained constantly superior, and therefore might specially on the stage ; and though they did be termed their fewars or feudal vas- not by their actions promote or retard sals, with the same degree of justice; the views of the main agents, yet they although it is certain that the epithet bore a considerable share in the diaextended in general to yeomen, or per- logue. Their office was to soothe the sons of inferior degree.
sorrows of the sufferers,—to shew to Having now, as I trust, sufficiently the vicious the danger of the unresvindicated the family honours of a re- trained indulgence of the passions,--to spected friend (who is much more strengthen the good in the pursuit of able, had he chosen, to have under- virtue, and to sing hymns in honour taken the task himself), I shall here of the gods, in which an enthusiastic close the subject, and take leave of the and elevated poetry was made subserworthy Lord Somerville, for whose vient to morality and religion. Sevefamily' I entertain the highest respect, ral inconveniences attended this sinand from whose work I have derived gular appendage of the drama. As considerable pleasure as well as in- they never quitted the stage there formation. Without drawing any in- could be no change of scene, and it vidious comparisons between such dis- was necessary that many sentiments tinguished families as the Stewarts and should be uttered, and many actions the Somervilles, who may be allowed performed, in their presence, which it to stand upon their respective merits, was inconsistent with the nature of I will only say, with a judicious an- man to reveal. From this contrivance cient, Non historia debet egredi veri- arose the unities of time and place, tatem, et honeste factis veritas sufficit. which were essential to the ancient I agree, however, with this Noble drama. There could be no change of Lord, and with a much better writer, place where a number of people remainnamely Tacitus,* in thinking, that it ed on the stage during the whole of is a subject of regret, that the lives of the play; and as the time they could virtuous men, and the history of hon- remain was limited, so necessarily was ourable families, however written, have the duration of the action. The disadnot oftener been preserved. It is not vantages of this arrangement are suffialone the intrigues of the statesman, ciently obvious ; for, besides that unor the exploits of the warrior, that natural restriction, it is the chief cause deserve to be transmitted to posterity: why the Greek tragedy is so barren in it is much more in the native fresh- incident, and, not unfrequently, so deness of narratives such as those to ficient in interest; and it is mere pewhich I allude,-it is in the minute- dantry in modern critics to demand, ness of personal detail which they sup- that writers in these days should comply, beyond the sphere of history, ply with rules that arose out of necesthat we must look for an acquaintance sity not chọice; for it must be rememwith the true character of past ages. bered, that tragedy was ingrafted on 'I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, the chorus, not the chorus on tragedy.
CANDIDUS. This species of composition, which
has been the delight of so many coun* In Vit. Agricol. sub init. tries and so many ages, had its origin