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was also a good Scottish poet. He was a native of
Fu' loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry; The ship rides by the Berwick-law, And I maun leave my bonnie Mary.
The trumpets sound, the banners fly,
The shouts o' war are heard afar,
Paisley, and born July 6, 1766. He was brought up to the trade of a weaver, but afterwards preferred that of a pedlar, selling muslin and other wares. In 1789 he added to his other commodities a prospectus of a volume of poems, trusting, as he said,
| large rivers.
He did not succeed in either character; and after publishing his poems he returned to the loom. In is 92 he issued anonymously his best poem, Watty and Meg, which was at first attributed to Burns. A foolish personal satire, and a not very wise admiration of the principles of equality disseminated at the time of the French Revolution, drove Wilson to America in the year 1794. There he was once more a weaver and a pedlar, and afterwards a schoolmaster. A love of ornithology gained upon him, and he wandered over America, collecting specimens of birds. In 1808 appeared his first volume of the American Ornithology, and he continued collecting and publishing, traversing swamps and forests in quest of rare birds, and undergoing the greatest privations and fatigues, till he had committed an eighth volume to the press. He sank under his severe labours on the 23d of August 1813, and was interred with public honours at Philadelphia. In the Ornithology of Wilson we see the fancy and descriptive powers of the poet. The following extract is part of his account of the bald eagle, and is extremely vivid and striking :“The celebrated cataract of Niagara is a noted place of resort for the bald eagle, as well on account of the fish procured there, as for the numerous carcases of squirrels, deer, bears, and various other animals, that, in their attempts to cross the river above the falls, have been dragged into the current, and precipitated down that tremendous gulf, where, among the rocks that bound the rapids below, they furnish a rich repast for the vulture, the raven, and the bald eagle, the subject of the present account. He has been long known to naturalists, being com
mon to both continents, and occasionally met with
from a very high northern latitude to the borders of the torrid zone, but chiefly in the vicinity of the sea, and along the shores and cliffs of our lakes and Formed by nature for braving the severest cold, feeding equally on the produce of the
sea and of the land, possessing powers of flight
capable of outstripping even the tempests themselves, unawed by anything but man, and, from the ethereal heights to which he soars, looking abroad at one glance on an immeasurable expanse of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean deep below him, he appears indifferent to the little localities of change of seasons, as in a few minutes he can pass from summer to winter, from the lower to the higher regions of the atmosphere, the abode of eternal cold, and from thence descend at will to the torrid or the arctic regions of the earth. He is, therefore, found at all seasons in the countries he inhabits; but prefers such places as have been mentioned above, from the great partiality he has for fish. In procuring these, he displays, in a very singular manner, the genius and energy of his character, which is fierce, contemplative, daring, and tyrannical; attributes not exerted but on particular occasions, but when put forth, overpowering all opposition. Elevated on the high dead limb of some gigantic tree that commands a wide view of the neighbouring shore and ocean, he seems calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered tribes that pursue their busy avocations below; the snow-white gulls slowly winnowing the air; the busy tringae coursing along the sands; trains of ducks streaming over the surface; silent and watchful cranes intent and wading; clamorous crows; and all the winged multitudes that subsist by the bounty of this vast liquid magazine of nature. High over all these hovers one whose action instantly arrests his whole attention. By his wide curvature
of wing, and sudden suspension in air, he knows him to be the fish-hawk, settling over some devoted victim of the deep. His eye kindles at the sight, and balancing himself with half-opened wings on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow from heaven, descends the distant object of his attention, the roar of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the deep, making the surges foam around. At this moment the eager looks of the eagle are all ardour; and, levelling his neck for flight, he sees the fish-hawk once more emerge, struggling with his prey, and mounting in the air with screams of exultation. These are the signal for our hero, who, launching into the air, instantly gives chase, and soon gains on the fish-hawk; each exerts his utmost to mount above the other, displaying in these rencontres the most elegant and sublime aerial evolutions. The unencumbered eagle rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, when, with a sudden scream, probably of despair and honest execration, the latter drops his fish: the eagle, poising himself for a moment, as if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty silently away to the woods.’ By way of preface, “to invoke the clemency of the reader, Wilson relates the following exquisite trait of simplicity and nature:– “In one of my late visits to a friend in the country, I found their youngest son, a fine boy of eight or nine years of age, who usually resides in town for his education, just returning from a ramble through the neighbouring woods and fields, where he had collected a large and very handsome bunch of wild flowers, of a great many different colours; and, presenting them to his mother, said, “Look, my dear mamma, what beautiful flowers I have found growing on our place! Why, all the woods are full of them red, orange, and blue, and 'most every colour. Oh! I can gather you a whole parcel of them, much handsomer than these, all growing in our own woods ! Shall I, mamma P Shall I go and bring you more?” The good woman received the bunch of flowers with a smile of affectionate complacency; and, after admiring for some time the beautiful simplicity of nature, gave her willing consent, and the little fellow went off on the wings of ecstacy to execute his delightful commission. The similarity of this little boy's enthusiasm to my own struck me, and the reader will need no explanations of mine to make the application. Should my country receive with the same gracious indulgence the specimens which I here humbly present her; should she express a desire for me to go and bring her more, the highest wishes of my ambition will be gratified; for, in the language of my little friend, our whole woods are full of them, and I can collect hundreds more, much handsomer than these.’ The ambition of the poet-naturalist was amply gratified.
[A Village Scold surprising her Husband in an Ale-house.]
I” the thrang o' stories tellin,
Swith ! a chap comes on the hallan–
I wha stand here, in this bare scowry coat, Was ance a packman, worth mony a groat; I’ve carried packs as big's your meikle table; I've scarted pats, and sleepit in a stable: Sax pounds I wadna for my pack ance taen, And I could bauldly brag ’twas a mine ain. Ay! thae were days indeed, that gar'd me hope, Aiblins, through time to warsle up a shop; And as a wife aye in my noddle ran, I kenned my Kate wad grapple at me than. Oh, Kate was past compares sic cheeks! sic een! Sic smiling looks! were never, never seen. Dear, dear I lo'ed her, and whene'er we met, Pleaded to have the bridal day but set; Stapped her pouches fu'o' preens and laces, And thought mysel weel paid wi'twa three kisses: Yet still she put it afffrae day to day, And aften kindly in my lug would say, ‘Ae half-year langer's no nae unco stop, We'll marry then, and syne set up a shop.” Oh, sir, but lasses' words are saft and fair, They soothe our griefs and banish ilka care: ! Wha wadna toil to please the lass he loes? A lover true minds this in all he does. Finding her mind was thus sae firmly bent, And that I couldna get her to relent, There was nought left but quietly to resign, To heeze my pack for ae lang hard campaign; And as the Highlands was the place for meat, I ventured there in spite o' wind and weet. Cauld now the winter blew, and deep the snaw For three hale days incessantly did fa’;
1 Old shoes.
Far in a muir, amang the whirling drift,
Hector MACNEILL (1746-1818) was brought up to a mercantile life, but was unsuccessful in most of his business affairs. He cultivated in secret an | attachment to the muses, which at length brought him fame, though not wealth. In 1789 he published a legendary poem, The Harp, and in 1795 his moral tale, Scotland's Skaith, or the History o' Will and Jean. The object of this production was to depict the evil effects of intemperance. A happy rural pair are reduced to ruin, descending by gradual | steps till the husband is obliged to enlist as a soldier, and the wife to beg with her children through the country. The situation of the little ale-house where Will begins his unlucky potations is finely described.
In a howm whose bonny burnie Whimpering rowed its crystal flood,
Near the road where travellers turn aye, Neat and beild a cot-house stood:
White the wa's wi' roof new theekit, Window broads just painted red;
Lown 'mang trees and braes it reekit, Haflins seen and hafins hid.
Robert TANNAHILL, a lyrical poet of a superior order, whose songs rival all but the best of Burns's in popularity, was born in Paisley on the 3d of June 1774. His education was limited, but he was a diligent reader and student. He was early sent to the loom, weaving being the staple trade of Paisley, and continued to follow his occupation in his native town until his twenty-sixth year, when, with one of his younger brothers, he removed to Lancashire. There he continued two years, when the declining state of his father's health induced him to return. He arrived in time to receive the dying blessing of his parent, and a short time afterwards we find him writing to a friend—‘My brother Hugh and I are all that now remain at home, with our old mother, bending under age and frailty; and but seven years back, nine of us used to sit at dinner together.’ Hugh married, and the poet was left alone with his widowed mother. On this occasion he adopted a houn which he has expressed in the following