« PreviousContinue »
lished by me, from the vast knowledge of feudal times that appears in it.
in it. I may safely say, for my own part, that I have studied the feudal manners and those of chivalry as much as any man in Europe, and can perceive no anachronism in the poem. The manners of the Scots of that time I am well versant in, if your lordship and other eminent historians have represented them faithfully; and I still abide by my opinion, expressed in the notes, of the author's skill in feudal manners; which opinion I thought myself called upon to vindicate, as your lordship is so entirely opposite ; and, indeed, to vindicate an opinion, of which the proofs are given from an unsupported assertion, is no difficult matter. Before I conclude this point, I must likewise observe that the study of antiquity is the most uncertain in the world, and that those most versant in it are the least apt to pronounce rashly; for, to conclude, for instance, from the remains of a few castles or from descriptions of a battle or two in old chronicles, that
battle and every castle in that period were like these, were extravagance itself; for fashion, caprice, and accident, are as ancient as any antiquities in the world.
Your lordship will perceive I write with the freedom that one gentleman of independent fortune should use with another, when disputing about trifles.
I have been at Cambridge, as I was invited to spend a few weeks with a friend in its neighbourhood, and took occasion to inspect the Maitland manuscript. There are a number of things in it well worthy of publication. Application will be
made in form to the Society of Magdalen College for that purpose; and I shall proceed in the same way as your lordship has done with the Bannatyne Ms. I wish to prefix to my work an History of Scotish Poetry; or, if it is swelled too much, to publish it by itself; for Dr. Warton's side-view of it is by no means satisfactory. I have desired Mr. Wm. Buchan, writer to the signet, my factor, to send me a list of Scotish poems in the Advocates' library. If your lordship would afford him your protection and assistance, no acknowledgments should be wanting on my part that gratitude can inspire.
THE BISHOP OF DROMORE TO MR.
Dromore, Oct. 29th, 1783.
I hope you will pardon the delay of my answer to your obliging letter, when I inform you it was owing to great interruptions of business, in which I have been involved in consequence of the death of Mrs. Percy's only brother, who dying intestate and without issue, the management of his affairs hath very much employed me ever since you wrote. I hope, however, that the inclosed will answer your wishes; though you must not be surprised if Mr. Warton, fatigued with (though fond of) literary researches, should be but a slow and desultory correspondent, even when he is most desirous of your acquaintance. I am glad to hear of your intended Letters of Literature, and wish you success in all your learned labors.
I am glad you are about to sift the Maitland manuscript at Cambridge, which you will find worth your search.
REV. THOMAS WARTON * TO MR.
Trin. Coll. Oxon. Nov. 24th, 1783. I should have acknowledged your favor before, but am but just returned to this place. I have received much pleasure from your Scotch Ballads,
, both text and notes, and shall be happy to see the curious pieces you mention. I shall be soon in London, and will not fail to tell you where I am to be found. With the expectation of the pleasure of seeing you, I am, &c.
MR. W. TYTLER I TO MR. PINKERTON.
Edinburgh, Dec. 27th, 1783.
* Rev. Thomas Warton, B.D., the author of the History of English Poetry, and himself a distinguished poet, held for ten years the office of Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and afterwards that of Poet Laureat. He was brother of Dr. Jos. Warton, master of Winchester School, and died in 1790, aged 61.
† Addressed to Mr. Pinkerton, but inclosed in the preceding from the Bishop of Dromore.
| A memoir of Mr. Tytler, who, to use the words of Dr,
favorable opinion which you express of
late publication.* The sentiments of men of taste and genius are always liberal; and by these, I imagine every attempt to rescue from oblivion the works of such a genius as our James I. must be candidly and favorably received.
Although I had often heard that the scene of Christ's Kirk was said to be near Lesly, the seat of the Earl of Rothes in Fife, yet I never with certainty could hear of any village of that name near Lesly. Your information, if authenticated, is strong; and I agree that the scene must probably have been in the neighborhood of one of the royal houses. The village of Christ's Kirk in the Garrioch is accordingly situated within a mile or two of the castle of Dunidoer, a hunting-seat of our kings, and where King James I. often resorted to. It is likewise within eight or ten miles of the castle of Kildrummie, one of the royal residences. It is, in my opinion, of very little importance, this matter : however, I shall be pleased to hear that, by your inquiry, you may be able to establish this point.
Watt, in his Bibliotheca Britannica, was “an able writer on bistorical and miscellaneous subjects,” is given by Mr. M.Kenzie in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. iv. His publications in general bore a considerable resemblance, in point of subject, to those of Mr. Pinkerton, being on ancient Scotch poetry, and Scotch history and geography.
* The Poetical Remains of James I. of Scotland, consisting of The King's Quair, in six Cantos, and Christ's Kirk on the Green, to which is prefixed a Dissertation on the Life and Writings of King James. Edin. 1783. 8vo.
Your late publication of Peeblis to the Play is a curiosity; I am convinced it is coeval with Christ's Kirk. But I own, on considering it with attention, I have some doubts of its being the poem alluded to by John Major, beginning in the same words, “At Beltayn.” I dare say you'll agree with me that there is not in it the same arch irony and humor, that we find in Christ's Kirk, and that it is, on the whole, deficient in design. I submit to you a conjecture, that it may be one of the parodies of the king's poem, beginning with the words, “At Beltayn,” which, in the words of Major, Alii de Dalkeith et Gargeil mutare studuerunt.
There is no occasion for a fac-simile of James's signature (or rather Banantyne's) at the end of Christ's Kirk. It is written, not numerically by a figure, but in words thus, “ Quod King James the Fyrst."
As the two volumes of The Evergreen collected by Allan Ramsay, chiefly from Banantyne's manuscripts and Sir David Dalrymple’s volume of Scots Poems, have left you only the gleaning of Banantyne, I am afraid you will find very few behind equal to the poems in the above collections. For the honor of our country, I dare say you will not think that antiquity alone is sufficient, without some other degree of merit, for publishing the poems of our old bard.