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O list the mystic lore sublime
under his hat or blue bonnet, the envy of all the country maidens. An attack of illness, however, brought on by over-exertion on a hot summer day, completely altered his countenance, and changed the very form of his features. His first literary effort was in song-writing, and in 1801 he published a small volume of pieces. He was introduced to Sir Walter Scott by his master's son, Mr William Laid. ' law, and assisted in the collection of old ballads for the Border Minstrelsy. He soon imitated the style of these ancient strains with great felicity, and published another volume of songs and poems under the title of The Mountain Bard. He now embarked in '' sheep-farming, and took a journey to the island of Harris on a speculation of this kind; but all he had saved as a shepherd, or by his publication, was lost in these attempts. He then repaired to Edinburgh, and endeavoured to subsist by his pen. A collection of songs, The Forest Minstrel, was his first effort: his second was a periodical called The Spy; but it was not till the publication of the Queen's Wake, in 1813, that the shepherd established his reputation as an author. This ‘legendary poem’ consists of a collection of tales and ballads supposed to be sung to Mary Queen of Scots by the native bards of Scotland assembled at a royal wake at Holyrood, in order that the fair queen might prove
The wondrous powers of Scottish song.
The design was excellent, and the execution so varied and masterly, that Hogg was at once placed among the first of our living poets. The different productions of the native minstrels are strung together by a thread of narrative so gracefully written in many parts, that the reader is surprised equally at the delicacy and the genius of the author. At the conclusion of the poem, Hogg alludes to his illustrious friend Scott, and adverts with some feeling to an advice which Sir Walter had once given him, to abstain from his worship of poetry.
The land was charmed to list his lays;
Scott was grieved at this allusion to his friendly
counsel, as it was given at a time when no one
dreamed of the shepherd possessing the powers that
he displayed in the “Queen's Wake.' Various works
now proceeded from his pen—Mador % the Moor, a poem in the Spenserian stanza; The Pilgrims of the Sun, in blank verse; The Hunting of Budlewe, The Poetic Mirror, Queen Hynde, Dramatic Tales, &c. Also several novels, as Winter Evening Tales, The Brownie of Bodsbeck, The Three Perils of Man, The Three Perils of Woman, The Confessions of a Sinner, &c. &c. Hogg's prose is very unequal. He had no skill in arranging incidents or delineating character. He is often coarse and extravagant; yet some of his stories have much of the literal truth and happy minute painting of Defoe. The worldly schemes of the shepherd were seldom successful. Though he had failed as a sheep farmer, he ventured again, and took a large farm, Mount Benger, from the Duke of Buccleuch. Here he also was unsuccessful; and his sole support, for the latter years of his life, was the remuneration afforded by his literary labours. He lived in a cottage which he had built at Altrive, on a piece of moorland (seventy acres) presented to him by the Duchess of Buccleuch. His love of angling and field-sports amounted to a passion, and when he could no longer fish or hunt, he declared his belief that his death was near. In the autumn of 1835 he was attacked with a dropsical complaint; and on the 21st November of that year, after some days of insensibility, he breathed his last as calmly, and with as little pain, as he ever fell asleep in his gray plaid on the hill-side. His death was deeply mourned in the vale of Ettrick, for all rejoiced in his fame; and notwithstanding his personal foibles, the shepherd was generous, kind-hearted, and charitable far beyond his means. In the activity and versatility of his powers, Hogg resembled Allan Ramsay more than he did Burns. Neither of them had the strength of passion or the grasp of intellect peculiar to Burns; but, on the other hand, their style was more discursive, playful, and fanciful. Burns seldom projects himself, as it were, out of his own feelings and situation, whereas both Ramsay and Hogg are happiest when they soar into the world of fancy or the scenes of antiquity. The Ettrick Shepherd abandoned himself entirely to the genius of old romance and legendary story. He | loved, like Spenser, to luxuriate in fairy visions, and | to picture scenes of supernatural splendour and beauty, where
The emerald fields are of dazzling glow, And the flowers of everlasting blow.
His ‘Kilmeny' is one of the finest fairytales that ever was conceived by poet or painter; and passages in the ‘Pilgrims of the Sun' have the same abstract remote beauty and lofty imagination. Burns would have scrupled to commit himself to these aerial phantoms. His visions were more material, and linked to the joys and sorrows of actual existence. Akin to this peculiar feature in Hogg's poetry is the spirit of most of his songs—a wild lyrical flow of fancy, that is sometimes inexpressibly sweet and musical. He wanted art to construct a fable, and taste to give due effect to his imagery and concep| tions; but there are few poets who impress us so
much with the idea of direct inspiration, and that
poetry is indeed an art ‘unteachable and untaught.'
- Bonny Kilmeny.
[From the “Queen's Wake."] Bonny Kilmeny gaed up the glen; But it wasna to meet Duneira's men, Nor the rosy monk of the isle to see, For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be. It was only to hear the yorlin sing, And pu' the cress-flower round the spring;
The scarlet hypp and the hindberrye,
They lifted Kilmeny, they led her away, And she walked in the light of a sunless day; The sky was a dome of crystal bright, The fountain of vision, and fountain of light; The emerald fields were of dazzling glow, And the flowers of everlasting blow. Then deep in the stream her body they laid, That her youth and beauty never might fade; And they smiled on heaven when they saw her lie In the stream of life that wandered by ; And she heard a song, she heard it sung, She kend not where, but sae sweetly it rung, It fell on her ear like a dream of the morn.
‘Ol blest be the day Kilmeny was born! The sun that shines on the world sae bright, A borrowed gleid frae the fountain of light;
And the moon that sleeks the sky sae dun,
+ * +
Then Kilmeny begged again to see The friends she had left in her own countrye, To tell of the place where she had been, And the glories that lay in the land unseen. With distant music, soft and deep, They lulled Kilmeny sound asleep; And when she awakened, she lay her lane, All happed with flowers in the greenwood wene. When seven lang years had come and fled, When grief was calm and hope was dead, When scarce was remembered Kilmeny's name, Late, late in the gloamin Kilmeny came hame! And oh, her beauty was fair to see, But still and steadfast was her ee; Such beauty bard may never declare, For there was no pride nor passion there; And the soft desire of maiden's een, In that mild face could never be seen. Herseymar was the lily flower, And her cheek the moss-rose in the shower; And her voice like the distant melodye, That floats along the twilight sea. But she loved to raike the lanely glen, And keeped afar frae the haunts of men, Her holy hymns unheard to sing, To suck the flowers and drink the spring, But wherever her peaceful form appeared, The wild beasts of the hill were cheered; The wolf played blithely round the field, The lordly bison lowed and kneeled, The dun deer wooed with manner bland, And cowered aneath her lily hand. And when at eve the woodlands rung, When hymns of other worlds she sung, In ecstacy of sweet devotion, Oh, then the glen was all in motion; The wild beasts of the forest came, Broke from their bughts and faulds the tame, And goved around, charmed and amazed; Even the dull cattle crooned and gazed, And murmured, and looked with anxious pain For something the mystery to explain. The buzzard came with the throstle-cock; The corby left her houf in the rock; The blackbird alang wi' the eagle flew; The hind came tripping o'er the dew; The wolf and the kid their raike began, And the tod, and the lamb, and the leveret ran; The hawk and the hern attour them hung, And the merl and the mavis forhooyed their young; And all in a peaceful ring were hurled: It was like an eve in a sinless world! When a month and a day had come and gane, Kilmeny sought the greenwood wene, There laid her down on the leaves so green, And Kilmeny on earth was never mair seen!
To the Comet of 1811.
How lovely is this wildered scene,
Steals soft o'er Yarrow's mountains green,
All hail, ye hills, whose towering height,
And thou, mysterious guest of night,
or superintendent, to the late Sir Francis Chantrey,
the eminent sculptor, in whose establishment he continued till his death, October 29, 1842. Mr Cunningham was an indefatigable writer. He early contributed poetical effusions to the periodical works of the day, and nearly all the songs and fragments of verse in Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song (1810) are of his composition, though published by Cromek, as un: doubted originals. Some of these are warlike and Jacobite, some amatory and devotional (the wild lyrical breathings of Covenanting love and piety among the hills), and all of them abounding in traits of Scottish rural life and primitive manners. As songs, they are not pitched in a key to be popular; but for natural grace and tenderness, and rich Doric simplicity and fervour, these pseudo-antique strains of Mr Cunningham are inimitable. In 1822 he published Sir Marmaduke Marwell, a dramatic poem, founded on Border story and superstition, and afterwards two volumes of Traditional Tales. Three novels of a similar description, but more diffuse and improbable—namely, Paul Jones, Sir Michael Scott, and Lord Roldan, also proceeded from his fertile pen. In 1832 he appeared again as a poet, with a “rustic epic,” in twelve parts, entitled The Maid of Elvar. He edited a collection of Scottish songs, in four volumes, and an edition of Burns in eight volumes, to which he prefixed a life of the poet, enriched with new anecdotes and information.
TILL THE PRESENT TIME.
To Murray's Family Library he contributed a series of Lives of Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, which extended to six volumes, and proved the most popular of all his prose works. His last work (completed just two days before his death) was a Life of Sir David Wilkie, the distinguished artist, in three volumes. All these literary labours were produced in intervals from his stated avocations in Chantrey's studio, which most men would have considered ample employment. His taste and attainments in the fine arts were as remarkable a feature in his history as his early ballad strains; and the prose style of Mr Cunningham, when engaged on a congenial subject, was justly admired for its force and freedom. There was always a freshness and energy about the man and his writings that arrested the attention and excited the imagination, though his genius was but little under the control of a correct or critical judgment. Strong nationality and inextinguishable ardour formed conspicuous traits in his character ; and altogether, the life of Mr Cunningham was a fine example of successful original talent and perseverance, undebased by any of the alloys by which the former is too often accompanied.