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

Part  VI:

  Sempil or Semple, Robert. [note] A variety of poems, by a person of this name, appeared about the year 1570. Mr. Sibbald [note] has been pleased to make a peer of him; and Mr. Park, [note] less scrupulous than he ought to have been in swelling the “Catalogue of royal and noble Authors,” has, on Sibbald's authority, added a “Robert Lord Sempil” to the number. Dr. Irving [note] considers the pretension to be ridiculous. It is in fact altogether a conjectural dignity, neither supported by any thing its the productions of the person of this name, nor by the traditionary history of the Sempils. According to the latter, the Robert Sempil in question, was a brother of the Sir James Sempil next mentioned, who was the head of a branch only of the noble family of that name. Of his poetic merits, Dempster has favoured us with a singularly glowing description:—


“Semple, claro nomine poeta, cui patrius sermo tantum debet, ut nulli plus debere eruditi fateantur; felix in eo calor, temperatum judicium, rara inventio, dictio pura ac candida; quibus dotibus Regi Jacobo charissimus fuit; scripsit carmina amatoria, ut Propertii [note] sanguinem, Tibulli [note] lac, Ovidii [note] mel, Callimachi [note] sudorem æquasse plerisque doctis videatur.” But the worth of any compliment from so fabulous a writer as Dempster, it is unnecessary to discuss. It may suffice to say, that its no work of Robert Sempil's extant is there the slightest foundation for such extravagant praise. His “Carmina amatoria” are all of a gross description; some of them have disgraced the “Evergreen” [note] of Ramsay; and, through some misconception (for it could only be through that) Mr. Park has permitted one of them
(the Fleminge Berge) to stain the pages of the Continuation of Lord Orford's [note] Catalogue. Mr. Dalyell, [note] who has republished a satire from the same pen entitled “The Legend of the Bischop of St. Androis' Lyfe, callit Mr. Patrick Adamsone, alias Cousteane,” has thought it necessary, in the preface (written probably, as most prefaces are, after the work they precede) to “regret having preserved such a compound of vulgarity, passion, and malevolence.” To this Robert Sempil also belong “The Siege of the Castel of Edinburgh, Imprentit at Edinburgh, be Robert Lekpreuik, 1573,” and the following pieces, preserved in Ames; [note] “The Regentis Tragedie,” (seventeen nine-line stanzas) 1570, and “My Lord Methvenis, Tragedie,” (twenty-four nine-line stanzas) 1572. In Birrel's Diary, a play, written by Robert Sempil, is said to have been represented on the 17th of Jan. 1568, before the Regent and others of the nobility: but what play we are left to guess. Mr. Sibbald and Mr. Campbell [note] † suppose it to have been the play of “Philotus,” because a play of this name, written fifty years on the one side or other of 1568, is still without any recognized author. If “Philotus” could on any more feasible ground be assigned to Robert Sempil, it would do him an honour never to be derived from his more authenticated productions; for though its plot is altogether indecent and improbable, and many more than “but two lines

* Scottish Poems of the sixteenth Century.
† History of the Scottish Poetry.
are immodest,* it contains some descriptions of the state of society at that period, which are valuable for their manifest truth and simplicity. According to
Dempster, Robert Sempil died in 1595.

* Pinkerton. [note]