Lives of
Scottish Poets
edited by

Center for Applied Technologies
in the Humanities

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Literary Chronicle
New Monthly Magazine
Monthly Review
Notes and Queries
Gibson and Laing
Halkett and Laing
Scottish Notes & Queries

Part I. (Volume I.)
James the First
Thomas the Rhymer
John Barbour
Andrew Wyntoun
Gavin Douglas
Allan Ramsay
William Meston
John Home
James Beattie
Robert Burns

Part II. (Volume I.)
James the Fifth
William Dunbar
Sir James Inglis
Henry the Minstrel
Sir David Lyndsay
Alexander Barclay
Alexander Montgomerie
William Alexander
William Drummond
James Thomson
John Oswald

Part III. (Volume II.)
James the Sixth
Sir Richard Maitland
Arthur Johnston
Hamilton of Bangour
Hamilton of Gilbertfield
Samuel Colvil
Alexander Ross
John Armstrong
John Ogilvie
James Macpherson
Charles Salmon

Part IV. (Volume II.)
Alexander Hume
John Bellenden
Mark Alexander Boyd
Ninian Paterson
William Wilkie
Robert Fergusson
William Julius Mickle
Alexander Geddes
James Grahame

Part V. (Volume III.)
Robert Henryson
Alexander Scott
Walter Kennedy
John Ogilby
Alexander Pennecuik
Alexander Cunningham
David Mallet
William Falconer
Francis Garden
Robert Blair
James Moor
James Graeme
Caleb Whitefoord
James Grainger
Hector Macneill
John Wilson

Part VI. (Volume III.)
Robert Kerr
Richard Lord Maitland
Thomas Hamilton
Charles Hamilton
Michael Bruce
Thomas Blacklock
John Logan
Andrew Macdonald
James Mercer

Appendix. (Volume III.)
James I
Allan Ramsay
John Home
Robert Burns
William Drummond
Robert Fergusson
Alexander Scott
John Wilson

The Scottish Notes and Queries (1887-1935) was edited by John Bulloch. This letter signed Alba from an Australian antiquary gives an account of the Lives of Scottish Poets with an interestingly garbled report on the advertisement printed with the original parts. It was ordinarily stripped when copies were bound, and this (mis)information seems to come from oral report. Alba speculates that the vituperative biography of James VI and I, signed D. S. was the work of the Rev. David Scott, minister of Corstorphine, professor of Hebrew at St Andrews (d. 1834).
Scottish Notes and Queries.
April 1907.
p. 148.

In 1822 Thomas Boys, of Ludgate Hill, London, published Lives of Scottish Poets, 3 vols, duodecimo, each volume consisting of two parts, about 180 pages each, and with a frontispiece group of five poetsthirty portraits altogetherengraved on steel, and nicely executed. Some of those gem portraits of forgotten bards possess an extra value now, on account of their rareness and uncertainty of reproduction. I specially allude to those of Marcus A. Boyd, James Moor, Caleb Whitefoord, Alex. Geddes, James Mercer, Francis Garden, and Wm. Julius Mickle. There is a singular story pertaining to this collection of biographies, and I opine that it is a correct one. It is to the effect that there was a literary fraternity in London at the beginning of last century and close of preceeding one, styled The Club of True Scots. They met frequently, probably there was conviviality, and they debated keenly, particularly on Scottish themes. Under a different name the same Scottish Society later on was formed into an active organisation, mainly for the welfare of Scots in the great metropolis. At one of their meetings, about 1820, it was proposed that memoirs and criticisms of Scottish poets should be prepared and read by the members, and the project was heartily agreed to. Many papers were accordingly submitted and freely discussed, and ultimately a desire was evinced that they should be printed in permanent form as a souvenir of the brotherhood. Hence those three dainty little volumes, the expenses of publication being, in all likelihood, defrayed by the members themselves. My set is marked Scarce, and that consequently increased the selling price. There are 65 memoirs altogether, some very brief, others fairly accurate, but all superseded now with our fuller knowledge of the past. Each memoir is signed with initials, and I had the curiosity, in an idle spell, to count them. There are 58 different initials to the articles, with the exception of A. C. and H. T., who supply two small memoirs each. It would be a trivial and even futile task to attempt to indicate and localise any of those writers. I think this verifies the statement that they were primarily contributed by different members of the association. Whether all were resident in London or not is doubtful, but not of much consequence; probably some obtained help in Scotland. Of the more extended memoirs, I specify that on James VI., 58 pp., by D. S. (I am inclined to attribute this to the Rev. David Scott, minister of Corstorphine, and afterwards professor at St. Andrews, who was stated in an obituary notice to have written lives of some Scottish poets, but this is the only one with D. S. attached). The memoirs and critique on Ramsay, 40 pp., is by T. T.; on Burns, 42 pp., by W. G. (?William Gillespie); Fergusson, 38 pp., by D. C.; Geddes, 36 pp., by W. M.; and Blacklock, 30 pp., by J. R. The editor of the whole series of memoirs was a Scottish journalist in London named Arthur Semple, who possibly licked some of them into presentable shape, and whose initials are appended to notes throughout the work. He likewise apparently furnished the supplement of 100 pages to vol. 3, giving concise notices of minor poets. Tannahill is included in the supplement, but his fellow-townsman Alex. Wilson is not, although he died in 1813. Mr. Semple did his onerous duty very creditably. He probably hailed from Renfrewshire, the habitat of that ancient family. Is there anything known of the further life history of Arthur Semple?


Melbourne, Australia.