Lives of
Scottish Poets
edited by

Center for Applied Technologies
in the Humanities

*    *    *    *    *

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



Thomas Hamilton, [note] the sixth Earl of Haddington was the second son of Charles, the fifth Earl. [note] We learn from Douglas's [note] Peerage, that he was a stedfast adherent of the Hanoverian family, a great promoter of the Union between Scotland and England, and one of the sixteen Scots peers in three British parliaments. According to another authority, [note] however, (Memoirs concerning the affairs of Scotland: anonymous. Published, 1714,) he was originally of the Cavalier party, who, though friendly to the Revolution, were opposed to the measures of the Court of Queen Anne; but, in 1704, was, along with the Marquis of Montrose, [note] the Earl of Seafield, [note] and many others, gained over to English interests, as the Hanoverian succession and the Union were then erroneously termed. In the same work we meet with a character of the Earl, which, though from a hostile pen, that has strangely misrepresented many other eminent persons of that period, is very like the idea of him which one would form from a knowledge of his works and a glance at an authority almost as good—his physiognomy. “Thomas, Earl of Haddington,” says the writer, “was entirely abandoned to whiggish and common-
wealth principles, and one of Cockburn of Ormistons'* [note] beloved pupils; he much affected, and his talent lay in, a buffoon sort of wit and raillery; was hot, proud, and ambitious.”


On the rebellion of 1715 breaking out, the earl took arms in support of the government, and is mentioned, in the ballad of Sheriff Muir, as one of those who were present at that engagement, and who

Advanced on the right man,
While others took to flight, being raw man, &c.

When the administration of Sir Robert Walpole [note] became odious for its venality, the Earl of Haddington was one of a few who had the reputation of being above a bribe. It is certain that he withdrew from court, and lived thenceforth entirely in the country. In an ode entitled “The Faithful Few,” by an anonymous hand, published at Edinburgh in 1734, he is thus apostrophized for his independence.

Mild Haddington, [note] whose breast's with learning fraught,
Receive the tribute of unpurchas'd praise;
Thine is the honor to retire unbought,
And persevere in virtue's sacred ways!
Nor less becomes the man the Muses love,
And all the friends of liberty approve.

From the epitaph of “ mild Haddington,” it would seem that age had effected some improvement in his original character.

* Lord Justice Clerk.

His lordship died at Newhailes, near Edinburgh, in October, 1735.


The works by which his lordship is chiefly known as a writer, cannot be said to redound greatly to his honour. Their titles are:


Forty Select Poems, on several occasions By the Right Hon. the Earl of H———n.”


Tales in Verse, for the Amusement of leisure hours, written by the ingenious Earl of H———n.”


These works were at first published surreptitiously at Edinburgh, but have since passed through several editions, both there and in London. They are not destitute either of wit or fancy, but all the topics are of a licentious description. To those whom they are unknown it may be sufficient to mention, that Mr. Pinkerton [note] has consented to give them the character of “immodesty.”


A more praiseworthy memorial of his lordship's talents is a treatise, which appeared many years after his death, “ On Forest Trees,” which he had addressed in the form of letters to his grandson and successor, the seventh Earl. It exhibits him in the light of an active and successful improver of his patrimonial estates. The subject of the Treatise is introduced by some amusing traits of his personal and domestic character. “When I came,” he says, “to live here, (Tyningham,) there were not above fourteen acres set with trees. I believe that it was a received notion, that no tree would grow here on account of the sea air and the north-east wind; so that the rest

* List of Scottish poets.
of our family, who had lived here, either believed the common opinion or did not delight in planting.” “I had no pleasures” he continues, “in planting, but delighted in horses and dogs, and the sports of the field; but my wife
[note] did what she could to engage me to it, but in vain. At last she asked leave to go about it herself, which she did, and I was much pleased with some little things which were well laid out and executed. These attracted my notice; and the Earl of Mar, [note] the Marquis of Tweedale, [note] and others, admired the beauty of the work and the enterprize of the lady.” After her ladyship had succeeded in rearing several ornamental clumps, she proposed to enclose and plant the moor of Tyningham, a waste common of about three hundred Scotch acres. The Earl agreed to her making the experiment and, to the surprise of every one, the moor was speedily covered with a thriving plantation, which received the name of Binningwood. His lordship was tempted, by the success of these trials, to enter himself, with great eagerness, into the plan of sheltering and enriching the family estate by plantations. He planted several other pieces of waste land, enclosed and divided his cultivated fields with stripes of wood, and even made a tract along the sea-shore, called the East Links, which had been always regarded as a barren sand, productive of the finest firs. And thus, says Mr. M'William, in his ingenious and useful Essay on the Dry Rot and Cultivation of Forest Trees, did “her ladyship, to the honour of her sex and benefit of her lord and her country, overcome the prejudices of the sea and the barren moor being pernicious; and of horses and dogs being the best amusement for a nobleman; converting a dashing son
of Nimrod into an industrious planter; a thoughtless spendthrift into a frugal patriot.

“Thus can good wives, when wise, in ev'ry station,
On man work miracles of reformation:
And were such wives more common, their husbands would endure it;
However great the malady, a loving wife can cure it:
And much their aid is wanted; we hope they'll use it fairish,
While barren ground, where wood should be, appears in every parish.”

The “Essay” is a production which may be read with advantage by all improvers of land. It establishes one fact of great general importance, that the oak, while it is one of the most valuable, is, at the same time, one of the most easily raised of all trees. Lord Haddington says, that the oak being his favourite, he had planted it in every soil, and it grew to very good trees, in all. On poor land or middling, on heathy or gravelly, on clayey or mossy, on spouty or rocky ground; nay, even on dead sand, he asserts that the oak grows faster than any other species of tree, aquatics excepted.

C. H.