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pressioun of the Comouns." They present strong pictures of the miseries to which a distracted country was subject at the period when they were written, and breathe the wishes of a true patriot for their redress. The importance of a " bold peasantry" to a state has been more eloquently described by Goldsmith, but not with greater truth, than in the following lines:
Riche comouns ar richt profitable
Help the comouns, bayth lord and laird !
"The Blind Baron's Comfort," as Dr. Percy has appropriately named one piece in the collection, is also interesting from the circumstances out of which it arose. It is said, in a note subjoined by Sir Richard, to have been penned "quhain his landis of the baronie of Blythe, in Lawderdaile, was heriet by Rolleyt Foster, Inglisman, Capitane of Wark Castle, with his cumpanye to the number of thre hunder men: quha spulyeit fra the said Schir Richard, and
fra his eldest sone; thair servandis and tennentis; furthe of the said baronie, five thousand scheipe, youngar and elder; twa hundred nowt (cattle); threttie hors and meirs; and insicht (furniture) furth of his hous of Blythe worth ane hundred pound; and the haill tennentis insicht of the haill baronie was fursabil. This spulye was committed the xvi day of Maij, the year MDLXX; and the said Sir Richard. was threscore and xiiii yeiris of age, and growin blind; in tyme of peace quban nane of that cuntrie lippint (laid their account) for sic thing." The "comfort" which "the Blind Baron finds for this cruel spoliation, consists in a pleasant ringing of changes on the name of the estate which was laid
Blind man be blythe, altho' that thow be wrangit,
This was but wordy comfort, it must be confessed, for losses of such magnitude as those which the baron enumerates; and Sir Richard seems to have felt so, for in a subsequent piece, entitled "Solace in Age," he says:
Thoch I be sweir to ryd or gang;
Thame punysit that did me wrang;
It is as a collector of ancient Scottish poetry,
however, rather than as a poet, that Sir Richard Maitland's name will live. The Maitland collections now deposited in the Pepysian Library, at Magdalen College, Cambridge, consist of two volumes; a folio, begun by Sir Richard, about 1555, and continued till 1586, the year of his death; and a quarto in the hand-writing of Miss Mary Maitland, his third daughter, which appears to have been almost wholly written during the last year of her father's life, and under his direction. Besides correct copies of all Sir Richard's own poems, these volumes contain the most authentic transcripts existing of the productions of many preceding and contemporary poets, of whom, but for this collection, nothing but their names might have survived. These manuscripts remained in the Maitland family, till the Duke of Lauderdale (the only duke of the name) presented them, with other MSS., to Samuel Pepys, Esq. Secretary of the Admiralty to Charles II. and James II. and one of the earliest collectors of rare books in England. Mr. Pepys, dying 26th May, 1703, in his 71st year, ordered, by his will, the Pepysian Library, at Magdalen College, Cambridge, to be founded, in order to preserve his very valuable collection entire. Here the Maitland Collections slumbered almost unnoticed for nearly a century, till the attention of Mr. Pinkerton was directed to them by Dr. Percy; when Mr. P. made a selection from them, which he published, in 1786, in two small 8vo. volumes.
The pieces in the folio manuscript amount to one hundred and seventy-six, of which only forty-seven had been printed previous to Mr. Pinkerton's publication. Of the remaining one hundred and twenty
nine, five are duplicates, and fifty-two have been deemed by Mr. Pinkerton undeserving of revival. The quarto manuscript comprehends ninety-six pieces, but forty-two of them are duplicates of poems in the folio, and only twenty-eight have been selected as worth publishing.
Among the pieces in Mr. Pinkerton's selection are several epitaphs on Sir Richard Maitland; one by Thomas Hudson; another by Robert Hudson; and two by anonymous hands. One of the last, alluding to the circumstance of Sir Richard and his wife expiring on the same day, closes with a happy couplet.
But yit quhat DEATH has prest to do, their love so to devyde,
LOVE hes againe, surmounting DEATH, defy'd.
But the lines, which, upon the whole, do most justice to the character of the worthy knight, are those of T. Hudson; they are encomiastic, without being either fulsome or ridiculous.
The sliding tyme so slilie slips away,
It reaves from us remembrance of our state,
+ In like manner.