« السابقةمتابعة »
But ye, the heavenly creatures of the West,
you yourselves should come to add one grace
Invite your hand to crop them from the stem,
WILLIAM ALEXANDER, EARL OF STIRLING.
This eminent Scotchman was born in 1580. He travelled on the Continent as tutor to the Duke of Argyle. After his return to Scotland, he fell in love with a lady, whom he calls 'Aurora,' and to whom he addressed some beautiful sonnets. She refused his hand, however, and he married the daughter of Sir William Erskine. He repaired to the Court of James I., and became a distinguished favourite, being appointed Gentleman Usher to Charles I., and created a knight. He concocted a scheme for colonising Nova Scotia, in which he was encouraged by both James and Charles; but the difficulties seemed too formidable, and it was in consequence dropped. Charles appointed him Lord-Lieutenant of Nova Scotia, and, in 1633, he created him Lord Stirling. Fifteen years (from 1626 to 1641) our poet was Secretary of State for Scotland. These were the years during which Laud was foolishly seeking to force his liturgy upon the Presbyterians, but Stirling gained the praise of being moderate in his share of the business. In the course of this time he contrived to amass an ample fortune, and spent part of it in building a fine mansion in Stirling, which is still, we believe, standing. He died in 1641.
Besides his smaller pieces, Stirling wrote several tragedies, including one on Julius Cæsar; an heroic poem; a poem addressed to Prince Henry, the son of James I.; another heroic poem, entitled “Jonathan ;' and a poem, in twelve parts, on the 'Day of Judgment.' These are all forgotten, and, notwithstanding vigorous parts, deserve to be forgotten; but his little sonnets, which are, if not brilliant, true things, and inspired by a true passion, may long survive. He was, on the whole, rather a man of great talent than of genius.
I swear, Aurora, by thy starry eyes,
A MAN of much finer gifts than Stirling, was the famous Drummond. He was born, December 13, 1585, at Hawthornden, his father's estate, in Mid-Lothian. It is one of the most beautiful spots, along the sides of one of the fairest streams in all Scotland, and well fitted to be the home of genius. He studied civil law for four years in France, but, in 1611, the estate of Hawthornden became his own, and here he fixed his residence, and applied himself to literature. At this time he courted, and was upon the point of marrying, a lady named Cunningham, who died; and the melancholy which preyed on his mind after this event, drove him abroad in search of solace. He visited Italy, Germany, and France; and during his eight years of residence on the Continent, used his time well, conversing with the learned, admiring all that was admirable in the scenery and the life of foreign lands, and collecting rare books and manuscripts. He had, before his departure, published, first, a volume of occasional poems; next, a moral treatise, in prose, entitled, “The Cypress Grove;' and then another work, in verse, 'The Flowers of Zion.' Returned once more to Scotland, he retired to the seat of his brother-in-law, Sir John Scott of Scotstarvet, and there wrote a ‘History of the Five James's of Scotland,' a book abounding in bombast and slavish principles. When he returned to his own lovely Hawthornden, he met a lady named Logan, of the house of Restalrig, whom he fancied to bear a striking resemblance to his dead mistress. On that hint he spake, and she became his wife. He proceeded to repair the house of Hawthornden, and would have spent his days there in great peace, had it not been for the distracted times. His politics were of the Royalist complexion ; and the party in power, belonging to the Presbyterians, used every method to annoy him, compelling him, for instance, to furnish his quota of men and arms to support the cause which he opposed. In 1619, Ben Jonson visited him at Hawthornden. The pair were not well assorted. Brawny Ben and dreaming Drummond seem, in the expressive coinage of De Quincey, to have interdespised ;' and is not their feud, with all its circumstances, recorded in the chronicles of the
Quarrels of Authors,' compiled by the elder Disraeli? The death of a lady sent Drummond travelling over Europe—the death of a King sent him away on a farther and a final journey. His grief for the execution of Charles I. is said to have shortened his days. At all events, in December of the year of the so-called “Martyrdom,' (1649,) he breathed his last.
He was a genuine poet as well as a brilliant humorist. His 'Polemo Middinia,' a grotesque mixture of bad Latin and semi-Latinised Scotch, has created, among many generations, inextinguishable laughter. His Wandering Muses; or, The River of Forth Feasting,' has some gorgeous descriptions, particularly of Scotland's lakes and rivers, at a time when
'She lay, like some unkenn'd of isle,
Ayont New Holland;' but his sonnets are unquestionably his finest productions. They breathe a spirit of genuine poetry. Each one of them is a rose lightly wet with the dew of tenderness, and one or two suggest irresistibly the recollection of our Great Dramatist's sonnets, although we feel that a less than Shakspeare is here.'
THE RIVER OF FORTH FEASTING.
A PANEGYRIC TO THE HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN,
FRANCE, AND IRELAND.
To his Sacred Majesty. If in this storm of joy and pompous throng, This nymph (great king) doth come to thee so near That thy harmonious ears her accents hear, Give pardon to her hoarse and lowly song: Fain would she trophies to thy virtues rear ; But for this stately task she is not strong, And her defects her high attempts do wrong, Yet as she could she makes thy worth appear. So in a map is shown this flowery place; So wrought in arras by a virgin's hand