« السابقةمتابعة »
upon it by the climate, government, and dispositions of
the people. It is labour, therefore, thrown away to talk The Scottish Songs. Collected and Illustrated by Ro- of its origin ;-one may almost as well talk of the origin bert Chambers, Author of “ Traditions of Edinburgh,” of language. It is curious, however, to know, that the “ The Picture of Scotland,” &c. In Two Volumes. | earliest Scottish song, of which we have any account, is Edinburgh. William Tait. 1829.
one composed on the occasion of Alexander III. being The Scottish Ballads. Collected and Illustrated by Ro- killed by a fall from his horse in 1286. The wars with bert Chambers. In One Volume, uniform with the England, the exploits of Sir William Wallace, of Bruce, Scottish Songs. Edinburgh. William Tait. 1829. and other national heroes, also presented fertile themes for (Unpublished.)
song, which, we learn from the old chroniclers, were not A COMPLETE, full, and compact collection of the Scot- overlooked. Mr Chambers enters, with a good deal of tish Songs and Ballads-carefully collected, and judi- antiquarian unction, into an examination of some of these ciously purged of every thing spurious,—was felt to be a early compositions; and perhaps it is in us a grievous fault want; and the present work will supply that want.
that we are not moved to great delight by the ingenious Some of our former collections are too voluminous and elucidation he gives of certain obscure points, which many expensive,_weighed down and rendered heavy by a pon- worthy members of the Bannatyne Club would, no doubt, derous appendix of pedantic Notes, which, though they willingly spend years in discussing. We can even read, unmay evince the editor's antiquarian lore, are, in point of moved, a passage so replete with interest as the following: fact, a mere intellectual lumber-room. Others are too -“ I may further venture to express a conjecture, that imperfect and exclusive, to present any thing like a satis- Trolly lolly is the same song with Trollee lollee lemándow, factory body of national poetry, and are to be regarded in which is mentioned in the Complaynt of Scotland, 1549, the light of minor, and often injudicious, abridgements and also with that which Mr Ritson has printed in his from the general store. The work before us is modelled • Ancient Songs,' under the title of Trolley lollee.” But after a plan the most appropriate for such a publication ; if this fails to excite us, it is not long before we come to for while it embraces every thing really worthy of pre
“ metal more attractive.” In speaking of a song of unservation, (erring, perhaps, on the safe side, in one or two known antiquity—“ The frog cam to the myl dur," _and of instances, by taking in too much,) it excludes all tedious another, printed in 1580,—“ A most strange weddinge of disquisitions, whether historical, geographical, or chrono- the frogge and the mouse,”—Mr Chambers introduces the logical, and shows a more laudable anxiety to preserve following very amusing nursery tale, for which, it the very best version of a song or ballad, than to make appears, he is indebted to one of those numerous old wolaborious attempts to fix the date of its composition, or
men, whose reminiscences he can turn to better account ascertain the name of its supposed author.
Such of our
than any writer with whom we are acquainted : readers as are at all acquainted with the peculiar habits
“ By the way, the frog seems to have been a favourite and talents of Mr Chambers, will have little hesitation character, and a distinguished figurante, in old popular in confessing, that scarcely any man living was likely to poetry. There is still to be found in the Scottish nursery have entered, with greater enthusiasm and success, into Sang,' and sometimes. The
Tale o' the Well o'the Warld's the researches necessary for putting into a proper shape End, in which the frog acts as the hero. It is partly in and arrangement the mass of materials which Scottish recitative, and partly in verse, and the air to which the poetry presents. Himself a poet of no inconsiderable poetry is sung is extremely beautiful. I give the following merit, as the pages of the LITERARY JOURNAL attest, and, version of it from the recitation of an old nurse in Annan
dale. besides, deeply imbued with a love for every thing Scottish, especially for that “ voice of song" which, for cen
"• A poor widow, you see, was once baking bannocks ;
and she sent her daughter to the well at the warld's end, turies past, has been “ daily heard on the lea and on the with a wooden dish, to bring water. When the lassie cam mountain side,” Mr Chambers has traced the stream to to the well, she fand it dry; but there was a padda (a frog) its source, and followed it thence with patriotic ardour that came loup-loup-loupin, and loupit into her dish. Says and useful industry, as " it stole along, a little hidden the padda to the lassie, I'll gie ye plenty o' water, if ye'll till of quiet enjoyment, beneath the incumbent mass of be my wife.' The lassie didna like the padda, but she was higher, and graver, and more solid matters.” The result fain to say she wad take him, just to get the water; and, is, that his three volumes bid fair to become the standard rious, or wad ever say ony mair about it. Sae she got the
ye ken, she never thought that the puir brute wad be se book of Scottish song and legendary lore.
water, and took it hame to her mother; and she heard nae By way of introduction, we are presented, in the first mair o' the padda till that nicht, when, as she and her movolume, with an “ Historical Essay on Scottish Song.” ther were sitting by the fireside, what do they hear but the It is written in that light, popular, and traditionary style puir padda at the outside o' the door, singing
wi' a' his in which Mr Chambers has few rivals. It commences
micht, with some observations on the origin and early history of
Oh, open the door, my hinnie, * my heart, our endeared national treasures of song and music, which
Oh, open the door, my ain true love; it, of course, admits to be involved in much mystery. Honey-a very common phrase of endcarment among the lower The truth is, popular song, in all countries, springs up whose tricks are so defuy delineated by Dunbar, says, on one occa
One of the twa mareit women, with the country itself, and will ever retain, throughout sion, to her husband, its progress to refinement, the peculiar features stamped •My hinny, hald abak, and handle me nocht sair.'
Remember the promise that you and I made,
childhood, during which, like individual man, it is always Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.'
an imitator, had now ventured to feel and profess an apSays the mother, " What noise is that at the door, dauch- preciation of what was originally and truly beautiful in ter?'—Hout !' says the lassie, “it's naething but a filthy these divine arts; and the Muse of the heart had at length padda!'-' Open the door,' says the mother, * to the puir asserted ber empire over all ranks of men. Poetry was padda.' Sae the lassie opened the door, and the padda cam now no longer supposed to consist in awkward allusions to joup-loup-loupin in, and sat doun by the ingle-side. Then, an exploded mythology, or in accurate versification. Music out sings he :
was not now believed to consist only in an ingenious ma• Oh, gie me my supper, my hinnie, my heart,
chinery of collusive sounds. Men had at length permitted Oh, gie me my sripper, my ain true love;
themselves, like the Vicar of Wakefield's family, to be hapRemember the promise that you and I made,
py without regard to system. Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.' • Hlout !' quo' the dauchter, ' wad I gie a supper to a filthy proves it to have been designed for the use of the upper
“ The Tea-Table Niscellany, the very name of which padda ?'_Ou, ay,' quo' the mother, ‘gie the puir padda ranks of society, might be said to consist in four different his supper.' Sae the padda got his supper. After that, out sorts of song. he sings again :
“ I. Old characteristic songs, the productions of unOh, put me to bed, my hinnie, my heart,
known poets of the populace; of which kind there were the Oh, put me to bed, my 'ain true love; Remember the promise that you and I made,
following: Muirland Willie; Nancy's to the greenwood Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.'
gane; Maggie's tocher; My jo Janet (probably ;) Peggy Hout!' quo' the dauchter, ' wad I put a filthy padda to and Jockey; Katherine Ogie (probably ;) Jocky said to bedl? Ou, ay,' says the mother, - put the puir padda to Jenny; Fy, let us a' to the bridal; The auld gudeman; his bed.' And sae she pat the padda to his bed. Then out
The shepherd Adonis ; She rase and loot me in; John he sang again (for the padda hadna got a' he wanted yet :)dlen hamne; Although I be but a country lass; Waly, waly,
Ochiltree; In January last ; General Lesley's march ; To• Oh, come to your bed, my hinnie, my heart, Oh, come to your bed, my ain true love ;
gin love be bonny; Ower the hills, and far away; NorRemember the proinise that you and I made,
land Jockey and Southland Jenny; Andro and his cutty Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.'
gun. • Hout !' quo' the dauchter, ' wad I gang to bed wi' a fil- “II. Songs of the same sort, but altered and enlarged at thy padda – Gae 'wa, lassie,' says the mother, 'e'en gang the discretion of the Editor; of which kind there were the to bed wi' the puir padda.' And sae the lassie did gang to following : Lucky Nancy; Auld Rob Morris ; The Ewebed wi' the padda. “Weel, what wad ye think? He's no buchts; Omnia vincit amor ; The auld wife ayont the fire ; content yet; but out he sings again :
Sleepy body, drowsy body; Jocky blythe and gay; Haud • Come, tak me to your bosom, my hinnie, my heart, awa' trae me, Donald; The Peremptor Lover; My Jeany Come, tak me to your bosom, my ain true love;
and I have toiled ; Jocky fou, Jenny fain ; Jeany, where Remember the promise that you and I made,
has thou been ? Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.' • Lord have a care o' us !' says the lassie, wad I tak a fil- and thirty written by his friends, as substitutes for older
“III. About sixty songs, composed by Ramsay himself, thy padda to my bosom, d’ye think?'— Ou, ay,' quo' the compositions, which could not be printed on account of inmother, “just be ye doing your gudeman's biddin, and tak decency and want of merit. It is customary to hear honest him to your bosom.' Sae the lassie did tak the padda to Allan railed against, for thus annihilating so much of the her bosom. After that, he sings out:
old characteristic poetry of Scotland. But it should be re* Now fetch me an aix, my hinnie, my heart,
collected, that, even it preserved, these things could only be Now (etch me an aix, my ain true love; Remember the promise that you and I made,
interesting in an antiquarian, and not in a literary point of Doun i' the meadow, where we iwa met.'
view; and also that the new songs thus projected upon the She brought the axe in a minute, and he then sang again: public were possessed of much merit. It'the old verses had Now chap aff my head, my hinnie, my heart,
been better in a literary sense than the new, they would Now chap aff my head, my 'ain true love;
have survived in spite of them. But they were not better ; Re:neinber th promise that you and I made,
they had no merit at all; and of course they perished. Doun i' the meadow, where we twa met.'
Those who declaim against Ramsay for this imaginary ofI'se warrant she wasna lang o' obeying him in this re- fence, forget that, amidst the poems he substituted for the queist! for, ye ken, what kind of a gudeman was a bit pad- old ones, are, “ The Lass o' Patie's Mill:" " The last time da likely to be? But, lock-an-daysie, what d'ye think?- I came ower the muir;” “ The Yellow-haired Laddie;" she hadna weel chappit aff his head, as he askit her to do, “The Waukin o'the Fauld ;” and “ Lochaber no more,” by before he starts up, the bonniest young prince that ever was himself; “My dearie, an thou die;" the modern “ Tweedseen. And, of course, they leeved happy a' the rest o'their side ;” and “* The Bush abune Traquair," by Crawford : days.'”
“ The Broom o' the Cowdenknowes,” by somebody signSome interesting notices follow of the “ godly and spi- ing himself S. R : some of Mr Hamilton of Bangour's ritual ballads" introduced at the time of the Reformation, beautiful lyrics : “ Were na my heart licht I wad die,” by and of many detached songs which appeared at different Lady Grizel Baillie: and a great many more capital comperiods, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; what is at present the staple of Scottish song:
positions, forming, it may be said, a large proportion of but we prefer descending at once to the commencement “IV. A multitude of English songs, which, of course, it of the eighteenth century, when, under the superintend is not necessary to notice in this place. ence of Allan Ramsay, Scottish song came at length to Some account of Mr David Herd's Collection of Scotbave “ a local habitation and a name." Of that poet's tish Songs, published in 1769_of Mr William Tytler's “ Tea- Table Miscellany," we have the following account, “ Dissertation on Scottish Song and Music," published which will be read with greater interest, when it is known in 1779—of “ Johnson's Scots Musical Museum," comthat it was the fashionable work of the day, and was uni- menced in 1786_of“ Ritson's Scottish Songs,” publishversally in the hands of the fair sex, Ramsay himself ha- ed in 1794—of Burns, his Writings, and his Biograving finely said of it,
phers—and of Thomson's “ Select Melodies of Scotland," " The wanton wee thing will rejoice, When tented by a sparkling ee,
an excellent, but expensive work, brings us down to the The spinnet tinkling io her voice,
present day, and to Mr Chambers's own compilation. It lying on her lovely knee !"
We have already expressed ourselves well pleased with ALLAN RAMSAY'S TEA-TABLE MISCELLAXY.
the manner in which Mr Chambers has executed his « The impulse which had been given to the public taste task. “ Books of this sort,” he has correctly said in his for Scottish song and music about the end of the seven- preface, “ are generally crude and hasty compilations, teenth, and the beginning of the eighteenth century, was from the most obvious sources, got up without the interthe proximate cause of this invaluable publication. The vention of any responsible Editor, and intended for cirtime had now gone past when the modulations of sound culation only amongst the humbler orders of the people.” were esteemed as only fit to charm the class of society It has been the object of Mr Chambers, on the contrary,
h gave them birth, and when music and poetry were to make a collection which should comprise all our really
be relished in proportion as they were artificially good songs, accompanied by as much information regardfwly elaborated. Society, emancipated from its ing them as possible, conveyed in short and popular notes,
and put into a shape at once handsome in appearance and try gentleman of Perthshire, who was residing there in moderate in price. This object has been fully accom- command of a party of Fencibles. I am indebted for this plished ; and the only fault we can find, which is one
very interesting document, which is here printed with all that "leans to virtue's side,” is the insertion of a few songs Dalguise. It is perhaps one of the most characteristic let
the literal peculiarities of the original, to Mr Stewart of of little or no merit, which might, with advantage, have ters Burns ever wrote: been omitted. In one or two instances, our Editor has “SIR,—Heated as I was with wine yesternight, I was been led into this error, by his anxiety to preserve every perhaps rather seemingly impertinent in my anxious wish thing, however trifling, which particular associations to be honoured with your acquaintance. You will forgive might render interesting. Thus, at page 62, vol. i. we
it: 'twas the impulse of heartfelt respect. —He is the faare presented with the following
ther of the Scotch County Reform, and is a man who does
honour to the business, at the same time that the business FRAGMENT,
does honour to him !' said my worthy friend Glenriddel, to Recovered from Tradition by the Editor.
somebody by me, who was talking of your coming to this “ Dunfermline, on a Friday night,
country with your corps.—Then, I replied, I have a woA lad and lass they took the flicht,
man's longing to take him by the hand, and say to him, And through a back-yett, out o' sight,
Sir, I honour you as a man to whom the interests of huÅnd into a kilogie !"
manity are dear, and as a Patriot to whom the Rights of We confess we are at a loss to discover the merit of this your Country are sacred. editorial relic. It may, perhaps, be urged by some, as “ In times such as these, sir, when our Commoners are another objection, that there is not the slightest arrange- barely able, by the glimmer of their own twilight underment, either into periods or classes, of the numerous songs standings, to scrawl a frank; and when Lords are what which the volumes contain ; but we do not know that gentlemen would be ashamed to be ; to whom shall a sinkwe are disposed to find fault with Mr Chambers upon gentleman! To him who has too deep a stake in his coun
ing country call for help? To the independant country this score. A song is a song under whatever head it iry, not to be in earnest for her welfare; and who, in the may be placed, and one reads through the work with honest pride of man, can view with equal contempt, the ingreater interest, not knowing whether he is to meet with solence of office, and the allurements of corruption. a production of Ramsay, Burns, Macneil, Tannahill, “I mentioned to you a Scots ode or song I had lately Hogg, or Sir Walter Scott, on the next page.—Mr Cham- composed, and which, I think, has some merit. Allow me bers's Notes are not the least valuable part of his book :
to enclose it. When I fall in with you at the Theatre, I they are at once instructive and amusing. We can af.
shall be glad to have your opinion of it. Accept of it, sir;
as a very humble, but most sincere tribute of respect, from ford room for only two specimens. The first is the
a man, who, dear as he prizes Poetic Fame, yet holds dearer note on Burns's fine song, “ Their groves o' sweet an Independant mind. I have the honour to be, myrtle," &c. “ This beautiful song-beautiful for both its amatory and
“ Your very humble servt. its patriotic sentiment-seems to have been composed by
“ Robr. Burxs." Burns during the period when he was courting the lady who afterwards became his wife. The present generation
Of the songs themselves it is needless to say much, fais much interested in this lady, and deservedly; as, in ad- miliar as most of them are to the Scottish reader. There dition to her poetical history, which is an extremely inte are a good number, however, which are less frequently resting one, she is a personage of the greatest private worth, met with, and one or two of these we feel much pleaand in every respect deserving to be esteemed as the widow sure in transplanting to our pages. We begin with the of Scotland's best and most endeared bard. anecdote will perhaps be held as testifying, in no inconsiders following naive and amusing composition, which, it is able degree, to a quality which she may not hitherto have probable, was written early in the seventeenth century: been supposed to possess—her wit. “ It is generally known, that Mrs Burns has, ever since
ROBIN BEDBREAST'S TESTAMENT. her husband's death, occupied exactly the same house in
Gude day, now, bonnie Robin, Dumfries which she inhabited before that event, and that
How lang hae ye been here? it is customary for strangers, who happen to pass through
I've been a bird about this bush or visit that town, to pay their respects to her, with or
This mair than twenty year. without letters of introduction, precisely as they do to the churchyard, the bridge, the harbour, or any other public
But now I am the sickest bird object of curiosity about the place. A gay young English
That ever sat on brier; gentleman one day visited Mrs Burns, and after he had seen
And I wad mak my testament, all that she had to show the bedroom in which the poet
Gudeman, if ye wad hear. died, his original portrait by Nasmyth, his family-bible,
Gar tak this bonnie neb o' mine, with the names and birth-days of himself, his wife, and
That picks upon the corn ; children, written on a blank leaf by his own hand, and some
And gie't to the Duke o' Hamilton, other little trifles of the same nature-he proceeded to en
To be a hunting-horn, treat that she would have the kindness to present him with some relic of the poet, which he might carry away with
Gar tak thae bonnie feathers o' mine, him, as a wonder, to show in his own country. Indeed,
The feathers o' my neb; sir,' said Mrs Burns, I have given away so many relics
And gie to the Lady Hamilton, of Mr Burns, that, to tell ye the truth, I have not one
To fill a feather bed. left.'--' Oh, you must surely have something,' said the
Gar tak this gude richt leg of mine, persevering Saxon; any thing will domany little scrap of
And mend the brig o' Tay; his handwriting-the least thing you please. All I want
It will be a post and pillar gude, is just a relic of the poet; and any thing, you know, will
It will neither bow nor gae. do for a relic. Some further altercation took place, the lady reasserting that she had no relic to give, and he as re
And tak this other leg of mine, peatedly renewing his request. At length, fairly tired out
And mend the brig o' Weir; with the man's importunities, Mrs Burns said to him, with
It will be a post and pillar gude, a smile, “'Deed, sir, unless ye tak mysell, then, I dinna see
It will neither bow nor steer. how you are to get what you want; for, really, I'm the only relic o' him that I ken o'.' The petitioner at once
Gar tak thae bonnie feathers o' mine, withdrew his request.”
The feathers o' my tail; 'The following highly interesting and hitherto unpub
And gie to the lads o' Hamilton
To be a barn-flail. lished letter of Burns is given in a note, on“ Scots wha hae :"
And tak thae bonnie feathers o' mine, “ The reader will find Burns's own opinion of this favour
The feathers o' my breast; ite war-song, in the following letter, which was written by
And gie them to the bounie lad, him, at Dumfries, on the 5th of December 1793, to a coun,
will bring to me a priest,
And on the mantle that my luve wears,
Is mony a gowden drap.
Cast by nae earthly han'!
O'my bonnie Lady Ann.
Now in there cam my Lady Wren,
Wi' mony a sigh and groan,
If my ain lad be gone!
E'en like a little king;
Ye little cutty-quean ! We recommend the following elegant and spirited composition to the especial attention of all our fair readers. It breathes sentiments which every man ought to feel, and which, we believe, every man, in a greater or less degree, does feel :
I DO CONFESS THOU'RT SMOOTH AND FAIR. By Sir Robert Aytoun, Secretary to the Queen of James VI.
I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair,
And I might have gone near to love thee;
That lips could speak had power to move thee :
I wonderin' gaze on her stately steps,
And I beet a hopeless flame!
It would stain her honoured name.
Where I darena mint my hand; But I water, and tend, and kiss the flowers
O’my bonnie Lady Ann.
I'm but her father's gardener lad,
And puir puir is my fa’;
Wi' fatherless bairnies twa.
Wi' a fou and kindly han’;
And fa' on Lady Ann. We have met with few sea-songs more spirited than that which we subjoin, and we should like to know something more of the author :
THE ROVER OF LOCHRYAN,
By H. Ainslie.
Wi' his merry men sae brave;
Ne'er bowled ower the back of a wave.
I do confess thou’rt sweet, yet find
Thee such an unthrift of thy sweets,
That kisses every thing it meets.
Armed with her briars, how sweetly smells !
Her sweets no longer with her dwells ;
When thou hast handled been a while;
And I will sigh while some will smile,
Hath brought thee to be loved by none. The finest song, without exception, which has been written within the last century-perhaps the finest song in the language—is “ Bonnie Lady Ann," by Allan Cunningham. We are astonished that it has not long ago been set to an air worthy of it, and sung on the stage,in the drawing-room,—at the social-board,-everywhere. We request that each of our readers will peruse it three times, and then say whether or not he is of our opinion :
BONNIE LADY ANN.
By Allan Cunningham.
And gowd amang her hair :
Nae mortal een keek there.
Or what arm o'luve daur span,
Or the waist o' Lady Ann?
Wat wi' the blobs o' dew;
Maun touch her ladie mou.
Her jimpy waist maun span :
My bonnie Lady Ann.
Tied up wi' siller thread;
Men's langing een to feed :
Wi' her milky milky hand;
My bonnie Lady Ann.
It's no whan the loch lies dead in its trough;
When naething disturbs it ava;
Or the splash o’the grey sea-maw;
Ower the breast o' the siller sea;
And the Rover that's dear to me.
And the sea lays it shouther to the shore,
As they rise frae the whitening roar ;
And watch by the midnicht tide ;
On the sea that he glories to ride.
Wi' the helm-haft in his hand;
As his ee's upon Galloway's land :
Gie her sail, boys, while it may sit :
And she'll roar through a heavier yet!" Having dwelt thus long on the songs, we must speak very briefly of the ballads. It is a very excellent colleetion ; made up principally of the best things to be found in Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Jamieson's Popular Ballads, Finlay's Historical and Romantic Ballads, Kinloch's Ancient Ballads, Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern, and Buchan's Ancient Ballads of the North of Scotland. This country possesses, altogether, about two hundred distinctly different ballads, but some of these have been laid before the public in no fewer than six different forms. Mr Chambers has aimed at condensing the diffused merit of all his predecessors. “ I have not only made a careful selection," he says, “ of what appeared to me in every respect the best of the whole mass of published ballads ; but, by a more daring exertion of taste, I have, in a great many instances, associated what seemed to me the best stanzas, and the best lines
The mornin' cind is tasselt wi' gowd,
Like my luve's broideredcap ;
nay, even the best words, of the various copies extant.” (one of the hottest that has ever been known since the İn some hands, this would be a very dangerous sort of descent of Phaeton) in making a peregrination over the tampering ; but we have good confidence, both in the ex- country. We understand, however, that the manner in perience and judgment of the present Editor. He di- which this book has been received, leaves the author no vides his Ballads into four classes : I. Historical Bal-cause to regret his exertions. In 1827, his “ History of lads ; II. Ballads supposed to refer to real circumstances the Rebellion of 1745-6,” and in 1828, his “ History of in Private Life; III. Romantic Ballads; and IV. Imita- the Rebellions, under Montrose, from 1638 to 1660,” aptions of the Ancient Ballads. This arrangement is very peared in Constable's Miscellany. He has now two other satisfactory ; and, whilst we observe no omissions of any works on the eve of publication—the Songs and Ballads, consequence, we scruple not to say, that, in many in which we have just reviewed, and a “ History of the Restances, we find better versions of our popular ballads than bellions in 1689 and 1715,” for Constable's Miscellany. we have met with any where else. We may conclude, We may likewise mention, that a translation of the two, therefore, as we began, by expressing our conviction that former“ Rebellions” has been announced in France; and this work, which is just on the eve of publication, must what is of greater importance, that Mr Chambers is to be, speedily win for itself a large share of popular favour and engaged immediately with a still more voluminous work applause.
than any he has yet produced. It is to be called, " The Before concluding, we are desirous of giving our read Domestic Annals of Scotland," and, beginning with the ers some little personal information concerning Mr Cham- era of the Reformation, it is to contain every thing about bers, whose name has, of late years, been a good deal in Scotland, except the political history, of which there will the mouth of the public, and in whom the readers of the be no more than enough to make the rest of the contents LITERARY Journal, in particular, can scarcely fail to be intelligible—a wire strong enough to support the stories somewhat interested. Although his productions are and anecdotes which are be hung upon it. It is to already so numerous, and have been, for the most part, so bring into view all those private transactions and familiar popular, Mr Chambers is only twenty-seven years of age. circumstances which lie beneath the stream of history, and He was born at Peebles in 1802, his father having been are therefore generally overlooked. It is to contain, among a cotton-manufacturer, and the descendant of a line of other things, accounts of all remarkable criminals, curiworthy burgesses of that town. There was a peculiarity, ous notices of costume and manners of former times, and worth mentioning, in our author's person at birth ;-he innumerable amusing stories and traditionary anecdotes. had six toes on each foot, and six fingers on each hand. It will be chietly compiled from the public records, and A blundering country surgeon attempted to reduce them the pages of the early simple historians and diarists. For to the ordinary number, by means of a large pair of scis- the convenience of both author and purchasers, it is to sors; but he performed the operation so awkwardly, that appear in numbers, under the auspices of our enterprising the greater part of the superfluous toes still remained. and successful Edinburgh publisher, Mr Tait. It is exIn one view this was a grievous calamity, for it not only pected that the work will extend to five or six octavo vorendered his infancy one of tears, and prevented him from lumes; and Mr Chambers has himself informed us, that participating in the usual sports of boyhood, but it has he intends it to be his opus optimum et maximum,—the had the final effect of making him slightly lame. In work to which he will point, in future years, when he another view, however, the accident had its advantages, wishes to tell what he did in his youth. since to it is to be attributed the acquirement of those We have made this statement, with regard to Mr studious babits, which, in their subsequent application, Chambers, with no view but that of doing justice to a dehave enabled Mr Chambers to gain for himself a name. serving and able man. He has already done more work as Before he was ten years old, he had read the greater part an author, than, we believe, any other person living of the of the Encyclopædia Britannica, in twenty volumes. Per- same standing. He has to write, too, under many disadceiving his attachment to books, his parents destined him vantages ; and the light and anecdotal character of many for the church, and he accordingly went through a course of his works has been a matter more of necessity than of of classical literature. Circumstances, however, after- choice. When it is known that he is obliged to attend, wards occurred, which prevented his entering the Divinity during the whole day, to the concerns of a retail business, Hall; and at fifteen he found himself in the disagreeable and that it is only little nooks and odd corners of his time situation of a person who has lost one aim in life, and that he can allot to writing, the wonder must be, how he not found another. Eventually he determined on be- has been able to achieve one half of what he has done. coming a bookseller, to which profession he has since We suspect there are many, who, from not taking this steadily and successfully adhered. Mr Chambers' first view of the case, hardly do Mr Chambers justice. Can attempt in literature was a little volume, entitled, “ Il- a man stand behind a counter, and think poetically? Can lustrations of the Author of Waverley, being notices of the a man go by fits and starts into his back-shop, and abreal persons and scenes supposed to be described in his stract himself sufficiently for a sustained effort of thought? works." It was published in 1822, when he was twenty Yet he has, in more instances than one, actually done so; Fears of age.
His second effort was the “ Traditions of and we do say, that, all these things considered, we know Edinburgh," published in Numbers, and completed be- of few men, under seven-and-twenty years of age, more tween March 1824 and November 1825. Such a work, remarkable, or of better promise, than Robert Chambers. to use the phrase of the trade, “ had long been wanted;" and it therefore succeeded amazingly. We believe so many copies of any local or topographical work have History of the Ottoman Empire, from its establishment till seldorn been sold in this country. The book was en- the year 1828. By Edward Upham, Esq. M. R. A.S., riched with anecdotes by Sir Walter Scott, Charles Author of the History of Budhism, &c. In two voSharpe, Esq., and other eminent literati ; but we are in- lumes, (forming Vols. XL. and XLI. of Constable's clined to think that the chief cause of its success was the Miscellany.) Edinburgh. Constable & Co. 1829. unblushing tone of agreeable gossip and garrulous oldwifery which pervaded it. In 1825 and 1826 Mr An acquaintance with the public and private history Chambers published two small works, subsidiary to of Oriental Nations, although perhaps of less practical imthe “ Traditions,” namely, “ Walks in Edinburgh, portance to the statesman than a knowledge of European or a Guide to the Scottish Capital,” and “ The Popular history, is more calculated to enlarge the views of the Rhymes of Scotland.” His next work of any magnitude scholar. The common religion of Europe, the common was * The Picture of Scotland ;"
Za work which none source from which its nations have derived their political but an enthusiast would have undertaken, and to do jus- science and a community of feeling produced by the getice to which, he employed the whole summer of 1826 neral diffusion and rival cultivation of science, have given