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lery of the latter. The supplication is presented to the king with a long speech from the 'squire, whose farewell to London closes the poem.
The plan of the “Supplication” is better than its execution. Its portraitures of character are feebly drawn, and the narrative tediously protracted. There is abundance of that odd combination which forms so material a feature of the Hudibrastic school; but it is, too generally, oddity without wit.
That tallow cakes are amber-grease;
That sun and moon are Cheshire cheese.
The author is occasionally, however, both spirited and ingenious; and, had he struck out a new path for himself, instead of dully plodding in that of another, might have acquired a respectable rank among minor poets. The following telescopic view of things not to be seen in the moon, may serve as a fair specimen of his style.
Cavaliers on horseback prancing,
Gardens planting, houses bigging,
Mates and princes picking quarrels,
Young wives their old husbands horning,
This year, what they preach'd the last,
For a change, the year to come.
ALEXANDER ROSS, A.M.
ALEXANDER Ross, the author of "the Fortunate Shepherdess," was the son of a small farmer, in the parish of Kincardine O'Neil, and county of Aberdeen, and born about the year 1700. He studied at Aberdeen, and took the degree of Master of Arts. On quitting the University, he obtained the appointment of Schoolmaster to the parish of Birse, in his native county; and shortly after married.
In 1733, he removed to the parish of Lochlee, in Angusshire; and here, in the humble and laborious occupation of a teacher of youth, was suffered to linger out a life, extended to the more than ordinary term of eighty-three years. He died in the month of May, 1783, leaving a son and four daughters.
"Ross," says Dr. Irving, "has been described as a man of simple manners, of a religious deportment, assiduous in discharging the duties of his station." And this character, concise as it may appear, will, as Dr. Irving neatly and truly adds, "be found to include every essential quality."
It has been conjectured, that Ross's original destination was the church, and that he had been obliged through poverty of circumstances to abandon the pursuit. The course of study necessary for taking orders in Scotland is not however so expensive, nor the incidental helps so few, that a young man, after having attained the degree of M.A., could have had much difficulty in perfecting his scheme of life, had he stea
dily pursued it. A condition still more poetical than sheer poverty may be assigned to Ross. He married, when others find it prudent to wait; and thus brought early cares upon him, which obliged him first to halt by the way, and then, for want of some generous hand to help him forward, kept him a schoolmaster for life.
Helenore, or the Fortunate Shepherdess, was first published at Aberdeen in the year 1768, together with a few Scottish songs. In the exordium, he thus feelingly depicts the penury of his condition.
Come, Scota, thou, that anes upon a day
Garr'd Allan Ramsay's hungry heart-strings play
And shape his houghs to gentle bows and becks.
As gryt's my mister, an' my duds as bare,
Mak me but half as canny, there's no fear,
Shortly after the publication of the poem, a commendatory criticism upon it appeared in the Aberdeen Journal, with the fictitious signature of Oliver Oldstyle, accompanied by an epistle to Ross, in the Scottish
dialect. The author of both productions was generally understood to be Dr. Beattie; and they have remained so long ascribed to him without contradiction, that there can be little doubt of their being from his pen. As the criticism contains a pretty correct estimate of Ross's work, and the epistle presents Beattie in a different poetical dress from that in which he is commonly known to the public, no apology can be necessary for transcribing them at length from the fugitive record in which they appeared.
To the Printer of the Aberdeen Chronicle.
I have read the " Fortunate Shepherdess," and other poems, in broad Scotch, just published at Aberdeen, by Mr. Alexander Ross, of Lochlee. This writer has given us the provincial dialects of Angus, Mearns, and Aberdeenshire, in great perfection; and I am convinced his work will be highly amusing to all who relish that sort of composition. A nice critic might, perhaps, take exception at his plot, at the prolixity of some speeches, and at the impropriety of some particular incidents and sentiments; but Mr. Ross, in his preface, hath made so modest an acknowledgement of these and other faults, which he thinks may be found in the performance, that it is impossible for a goodnatured reader not to excuse them. Many genuine strokes of nature and passion, and many beautiful touches of picturesque description, are to be seen in this work. There is even an attempt at character, which, in one or two instances, is by no means unsuccessful. In his songs there is an easy turn of humour