Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


can be

And neither has the impresion, “the fame manner, as an article of which they left on the public mind, “dress acquires an appearance of elebeen sufficiently deep, nor the en- gance or of vulgarity from the percouragement, which they received, “ fons, by whom it is habitually sufficiently great, to flatter the hopes, worn ; so, a particular mode of or to roule, to any extent, the exer- pronunciation acquires an air of tions of others. The transcendent “ fashion or of rufticity, from the merit of the last writer, indeed, would “persons by whom it is habitually appear to have completely established “ employed. The Scottish accent is the reputation of his native language. “ surely, in itfelf, as good as the But it is far from improbable, that “ English ; and, with a few excepthe pleasure, derived from his poems, “ tions, is as agreeable to the ear ; arifes, in small proportion, from a “ and yet how offenfive does it apperception of the fimplicity and via pear even to us, who have been gour of the dialect, in which they are " accustomed to hear it from our inwritten, but, primarily and principal- fancy, when compared with that ly, from the genuine spirit of poetry, “ which is used by our southern and peculiar originality of sentiment “ neighbours! No reason and style, which they fo eminently“ given for this, but that the capi. poffefs ; and which would have pro- li tal of Scotland is now become a cured for them a favourable recep- “ provincial town, and London is tion, in whatever language or idiom

o the feat of our court t." they might have been clothed. Ex- The Scottish dialect is not now traordinary poetical talents, like those the language of the noble, the opuof Burns, seem alone capable of sur- lent, and the fashionable.

It is no mounting the prejudices, which pre- longer the style, in which the transvail against the Scottish dialect. For, actions of public and of private businot a few appear disposed to prefer nefs are conducted. It is but fel. his English pieces to his Scoitilh, and dom and partially employed in conto wish, that the proportion of the versation by the more enlightened former had been greater. Yet, af- and accomplished. It is heard chieffuredly, the latter posielles excellence ly from the mouths of the low, the of its own ; and why it hould have illiterate, and the unpolished. It is fallen so much into disrepute, may unfortunately associated, therefore, deserve some examination.

with every thing relating to them ; Perhaps the chief causes, which and indeed it is too often contamihave tended to fink the estimation of nated and debased by their brutality, the Scottish tongue, may be fought in ignorance, and vice. In a different the operation of that extensive prin- arrangement of things, however, veciple, the association of ideas. It is ry different ideas would, by the same an obfervation of the judicious and principle, have been attached to it. elegant author * of the “ Philofophy When spoken by our independent

' of the Fiuman Mind;" that, “ in and aspiring chieftains ; when writ

ten * Profesor Stewart. * To the fame purpole may be queted the following humorous lines, by of our Sewitiil bands. The concluding sentiment is not to be strictly interpreted:

hat signify their polith'd speeches?
The Scottish ilk in England each is;
than we say breeks, they bawl out breeches,

Wi' unco blether;
Pat yet a Scotloan's word ay reaches,

Than their's, far fether.


ten by our men of'genius and learn- ' less attention to this circumstance ing ; and when pronounced by our than it deserved. They appear to beauteous queens and their attendant have been more anxious to procure a fair, its dignity was no doubt ac- collection of expressive vocables, pure. knowledged, its vigour experienced, ly Scottish, than to cultivate elegance and its fweetness admired.

and delicacy of style. In this respect With this general principle of af. they have made little selection, but sociation other accidental circum- have promiscuously employed all the stances have concurred ; and by their phraseology of the language : the united agency, not only has the esti- vulgar, the ludicrous, and the indelimation of the Scottish dialect been cate, have been thrown into their comdiminished, but its own intrinsic pofitions with an unsparing and unworth also impaired. By men of distinguishing hand. And this cirreal knowledge and claffical taste it cumstance has probably contributed, has very rarcly been cultivated ; and as much as any other, to debase the to the undirected attempts of less in- poetry, in general, in the eitimation telligent and polished minds it has of many ; to stamp upon it a mark been, almost entirely, abandoned. of coarseness and vulgarity ; to burFrom superior talents it has received lesque the most tender fonnets, to ofno improvement; and from celebrat- fend the judicious taite, and difgust ed names it has derived no support. the delicate ear, In consequence of Is it at all wonderful then, that its the long disuse of the language in culture should have languished, and fashionable life, it may indeed be difits celebrity decayed ?

ficult to ascertain exactly the more The indiscriminate use of Scottish elegant diction ; and perhaps, in the terms and phrases by those who have present day, it may be regarded as composed in that dialect, may be trifling and absurd, to speak of the considered as no inconsiderable caufe pure and the polite, as existing in of the decrease of its fame, and the the Scottish tongue.

Some attempt depravation of its worth. When our at difcrimination, however, may still vernacular tongue was the only lan be made. The more ancient Scot. guage commonly spoken and written tish writings may serve, in some dein the kingdom, a confiderable diver- gree, as guides and examples. For fity of diction would undoubtedly it is an undeniable fact, that in point prevail. In it, as in other languages, of delicacy, these are far fuperior to there would be certain epithets and the compositions of later times. Inexpreflions, certain colloquial and deed, after making allowances for proverbial phrases, employed by the the age in which they were written, lower clafles, but proscribed in the they are rather remarkable in this circles of fashion and taste. There respect. would, in short, be something of a

The Scottish language appears, as polite and a vulgar phraseology. But was observed, to be poffeffed of rewhether or not such a distinction commendations, which render it, even ever existed in Scotland, it is evident, in the present day, neither unworthy that the present days of delicacy and of attention, nor incapable of imrefinement require fome judgment provement. It is not the language and discretion in the application of of an unlearned people. It is an inwords. Almost all our modern * conteftible fact, that, at a very early Scottish poets, however, have paid period, claflical literature was pretty

generally * By modern are meant those who have written fince the union between Enge land and Scotland.

Ed. Mag. Jan. 1851.

generally cultivated in the court of and Scotland, a considerable analogy Scotland. It is natural to conclude, between their languages was effected; that this circumitance must have and into that of the latter many of tended confiderably to improve the the terms and elegancies of the forlanguage of the country, and the mer have been introduced : examples conclusion is confirmed by the strik. of this are so numerous, that a selecing coincidence which, in many in- tion would be difficult ; and fo maItances, exists between the Scotch nifest, that it would be unnecessary. and the learned tongues : and there The copiousness of the Scottish lanis, perhaps, no modern language, in- guage in many respects is remarkable. to which the idioms of Greek and And this consists not merely in an aRoman writers can be more literally bundance of terms to express the same rendered, without impairing the sense thing, but in the power which these and spirit of the original, than into terms possess, of placing the object in that of the Scotch. The study of various points of light, and of markpolite literature appears to have been ing, with precision, a multitude of in a more advanced state, in Scotland, the minutest shades of difference. In some centuries

than in


of conseqrenc of this circumstance, the other countries of Europe. By with the power and permission of those who have the opportunities of adopting, at pleasure, from the Engexamining, and possess the power of lith, Scottish poets are supplied with judging, it is allerted, that the letters a most extensive vocabulary, and enand memorials of the Scottish princes joy very fuperior advantages for comare the finest compositions of the age posing with ease, perfpicuity, and in which they were written; and far richness of expreflion. fuperior, in correctnefs, elegance, and It contains a number of vocables arrangement, to those which were peculiarly expressive, and purely its returned to them in answer.

Now it own. Many of these are monosylis not a mere hypothetical deduction, lables, and yet they convey an extent that the language of the natives, in and an energy of meaning, which general, must have derived some im- most of the modern languages can provement from the learning of the but imperfe&tly colleci, even by a court. For it is known, that Bar- circumlocution. bour, a Scottish historian, philofo- Its power of termination, especipher, and poet, though considerably ally in diminutives, and the expresprior in time to Chaucer, wrote in a fion of endearment, is far from being style as pure, and a versification as inconsiderable, and, in many

initanharmonious as the English bard. ces, it appears to be little inferior to The verfe compofitions of James I. ; that of the Italian. the publication of James VI. con- It poffeffes a considerable portion taining precepts for writing Scottish of that rullic fimplicity, so much adpoetry; and the numerous collections mired in the Doric dialect of the of ancient productions, in that dia- Greeks; and not a little also of the le&, which are fill extant, furnish smoothness and harmony of the Ionic. politive proofs, that in Scotland, at Like the former, it drops final conan early period, attempts in verfe fonants, subititutes one for another, were not only general and successful, and converts many of the vowels and but encouraged also by the patronage diphthongs of English words into and the example of the court. A and I ; and, like the latter, it de

In consequence of the long and lights to throw out the consonants, intimate connection which formerly to produce a concourse of vowels, to bile betwixt the couts of France sofien the found, and promote the



flow of those harsher terms, which poem of the “ Daft Days,” already less easily combine in versification. mentioned, is far fuperior to one of The Scottish language, in short, a

the same denomination by Fergussou bounds in terms and phrases con- This latter, in short, does not cornected with domestic and social life, respond to its title: it is a mere with rural feenery, sentiments, and Bacchanalian ode, connected with no occupations. And hence it is pecu- particular feafon, and containing alliarly fitted for pastoral poetry, the lufions to no particular class of nalighter odes, and the description of tional manners. external nature.

It surpasses in hu- It is not pretended, that these hafty mourous representation, and is far and fuperficial ftrictures are any way from being unsuitable to the plain- fufficient to illustrate their subject; tive and tender. The poems, and but could they call the attention of especially the songs of Burns, illustrate fome abler philologift to Scottish liand confirm the observation. For terature, their principal aim would the didactic, and the fublimer kinds be accomplished. To trace the proof poetry, it may be rather deficient gress of the Scottish language, would in majeity and compass.

form an investigation, neither unworIt is not unworthy of remark, thy of the application of genius and that nothing gives a Scottish poet talte, nor unfruitful in instruction and (or indeed any paftoral writer) great- amusement. A historical work of er fuperiority, than an extentive and this nature might tend to illustrate accurate acquaintance with the man many other collateral branches of ners and customs of the peasantry. Scottish antiquities ; might facilitate The reprcientations of the former, aro and improve the compositions of monot only pleasing in themselves, but dern writers in that language; and, are always itrongly associated with if interspersed with biographical athe pleasures of the country, and the necdotes and critical remarks, might beauties of nature ; and allusions to furnith a plentiful source of pleating the latter, recal the sports and happi- and harmless recreation. To many ness of infant years, with a train of of our countrymen it would undoubtso many endearing associations, as to edly be highly acceptable ; and to draw the mind, for a moment, from none of them more so, than to its cares; and give relish and poignancy to verfes, which may in other

Yours, &c. respects be very imperfeét and infipid. Edin. Buccleugh Street,

7. B. On this account particularly, the Jan. 16th 1801.






R. Mungo Park was born at ing of five sons and three daughters)

Fowlfhie's farm, in the parish of that education and those accomplishSelkirk, about four miles west of that ments which were suitable to their town, in the year 1771. His father, circumstances, and accorded with Mr Mungo Park, was a respectable their respective views. Our travel. gentleman-farmer in that place; and lor, the second foolin the family, bebeing poffeífed of conliderable wealth, gan early to display his fuperiority betowed upon his children (const- of genius, by feveral efforts of juve. nile ingenuity, which few boys of tanical excursions to different parts of that age either attempt, or could Scotland. This predilection for bohave accomplished.

tany, and the assiduous attention with In perusing the history of genius, which he cultivated it, were singularit may very frequently be observed, ly fortunate in the issue, and conferthat those individuals who, in the red upon him additional qualificacourse of their lives, have diftinguifh- tions as a traveller to unfrequented ed themselves by their talents and regions. public exertions, were originally in- But while Mr Park devoted, as tended for the church. This is ea- was highly proper, the greater part fily to be accounted for. In former of his time to the study of medicine, times, when the reverence for reli- and those branches inore immediately gion was greater than it now is, it connected with the healing art, he was generally imagined, that the of- by no means neglected, as I am sorry fice of a clergyman required greater to observe is too frequently the case, abilities than any other profesion; general learning and polite literature. and when the parents perceived the The greater number of surgeons, superior acuteness of a favourite son, and even of those who take a degree they believed that his talents could in medicine, certainly do not pay

due not be better employed than in the attention to elegant letters. It is cause of religion, and they piously reckoned fufficient, to have a compe. dedicated him to the more immediate tant acquaintance with medicine alone. service of God, and the work of the But all the arts and sciences have an ministry. Mr Park's inclination, intimate connexion with one another: however, not coinciding altogether a proficiency in some of them, faciliwith this profeffion, he was, with his tates and improves a knowledge in own consent, put as an apprentice to others, and darts an additional beam Mr Thomas Anderson, a surgeon in over the whole circle ; and surely a Selkirk, and resolved to prosecute person could not be a worfe phyficithe study of medicine. After having an, for having superadded to his made a competent proficiency in the knowledge of the human body, and Latin language, under the care of the cure of diseafes, the admirable the late Mr Huggan, then rector of accomplishments of elegant literature, the grammar school of that place, and a diversified mass of general inand having prepared himself, by his formation. apprenticeship, for further advance- During his attendance upon the ment in medical knowledge, he went college, and in the autumnal recesses, to the university of Edinburgh, in together with medicine, Mr Park the year 1789. During three fuc- conjoined the studies of civil and naceffive years of his attendance at the tural history, geography, astronomy, university, he continued to make natural philofophy, metaphysics, poehimself master of the various branches try, and drawing. In all these deof medical science taught in that partments of science and of art, his college, and in particular paid much success was adequate to the ability attention to chemistry and botany. and application with which he enFor this last science he early mani- gaged in them ; and whilst the variefested a decided regard, which pro- ty of investigation which he pursued, bably was occafioned by his accom- precluded mental fatigue, the feries panying his brother-in-law, Mr Dick of facts, and diversity of principles fon, (author of the “Fafciculi Planta- which his mind embraced, conferred rum Cryptogamicarum Britannia.") those general and elevated views, while yet very young; in several bo- which discriminate betwixt vulgar


« PreviousContinue »