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School Wynd, then a vennel or passage leading to the Barnyard, where there was a port, and to Oakshaw, on the site of the Chapel of St. Nicholas. There appears to have been two class-rooms, one used for the Grammar School proper, the other as a singing or "sang school.” The patronage, although formally vested in the council, appear to have been practically exercised at a very early period by the Church. In 1604 the magistrates remitted a candidate for the office of master to the minister of the burgh and Presbytery of Paisley, for the purpose of making trial of his doctrines and ability to teach. In 1626 another was appointed after being found qualified by the Presbytery; and in 1689 a William Stewart, who had become the subject of Church discipline, was apparently dismissed by the council at the instance of the Presbytery. The magistrates, however, appear to have been active enough in doing what was then judged wise to keep up the reputation of the school. In 1647, when John Tannahill was to be appointed, if found qualified, for his further encouragement the council conclude that all men children shall go to the Grammar School, that all woman schools be discharged from receiving boys under pain of censure, and that no woman whatever keep a school from All-Hallowday next but such as upon their petition might be allowed by the council. This resolution was proclaimed over the burgh next year by “de tuck of drum.” Formal visitations would seem to have commenced in 1646, when the council appointed the school to be visited once a month by the bailies and ministers. One instance of undue severity occurs in the records this year, and may have something to do with the " visitation." In June of that year “Doctor” Lawson was to be absolutely discharged, that “he strike nane of the scholars within the school of Paisley hereafter, and that he shall take no such authority on him; and if he do in the future contrary, the first bairn he strikes it is concluded that he be removed from the school." It is to be feared the warning was useless, as dismissal followed within a few months. In immediate connection with his subjects, and extremely interesting besides on their own account, are the extracts gleaned by Mr. Brown from the records of his own and other burghs, especially in so far as these throw light on the two great calamities of war and pestilence. In December, 1645, the bailies and council of Glasgow, “taking to their consideration the lamentable estate and condition of the poor people within the town of Paisley, and of the hard straits they are brought to by God's visitation of the plague of pestilence lying upon them now for this long time, for this present supply they have condescended to bestow upon them twenty bolls of meal.” During the January following John Park, mealman, Causeyside, for falsely asserting that the bailies of Paisley had acted unfairly in dividing this meal among the rich and not among the poor, was fined three dollars and laid six hours in the stocks. Leprous persons could only be abroad two days of the week for two hours at a time, “and not to go into any house, but to have clappers to call the people out, under pain of punishment.” At the close of 1650, when Cromwell's troops were marching on the burgh, “the council appoint that the shire's arms that are in the Tolbooth shall this night be transferred thereof, and carried to come convenient place where the same may be hidden from the enemy. The Royalist defeat at Worcester appears to have led to an entire abolition of local courts. In April, 1652, the council agreed, “because there may not be a head court holden, in respect that the English by their declaration have discharged all courts, it is concluded that upon Thursday next, the penult of this instant, which should be the head court day, the bailies and council shall meet in James Alexander's, bailie, his heich hall, and there shall elect a new treasurer for the affairs of the town, and shall create any burgesses that shall happen to be, and receive resignation if any be, and book those having right into common lands.” As became a body of patrons who as far back as 1620 had subscribed to encourage “a pleasant Invention or Play," the council in 1702 made a grant of twenty pounds Scots towards expenses incurred by the scholars in acting “Bellum Gramaticale," and the then “Doctor” was allowed seven pounds two shillings Scots (10s. 6d.) to buy a new hat with, “towards his farther encouragement, for pains in attending to the school by and attoure his salary.” Other town schools undertaken with a view of completing the work of education, or called into existence by some passing inefficiency in the Grammar School, are carefully treated by Mr. Brown in separate chapters. In this there is set forth in a way at once pleasant and instructive all necessary details concerning the origin, history, and teachers of the English, Commercial, and Low Parish Schools. By “town's schools,” Mr. Brown means schools over which the council exercised more or less control, or at least in which they took some special interest. Denominational schools are not referred to, nor is the question raised how they came into existence, what they have done, or what they have cost. This field is still open, and open in other quarters than Paisley. Another chapter of Mr. Brown's book relates the more recent history of the Grammar School and Academy, this necessarily involving an account of the praiseworthy efforts made by the author, as chairman of the committee of subscribers, to carry out the erection of a suitable new fabric in Oakshaw Street, in which such a curriculum would be observed as might fit pupils for proceeding direct to the University, or entering upon the business of life. The period embraced by this chapter extends from September, 1864, when the building was opened, till the examination of June, 1873, when it ceased to be under the management of the Town Council and subscribers, and came under the control of the local School Board in terms of the Education Act.
ALEXANDER WILSON, ORNITHOLOGIST.
“ PAISLEY reprints” being as a rule rather superior in appearance to the original editions, it is pleasant to record (1876) that no falling off is presented by two volumes containing the writings of a native so humorous as the author of “Watty and Meg,” and famous afterwards in the far different field of American Ornithology. A reprint (Gardner) is hardly the word to describe the result of Mr. Grosart's labours, nor, it is but fair to say, is it used by editor or publisher. It is only a reprint in the very limited sense of presenting some matter which had been in print before, and much which might have been but never was gathered together in any orderly form. For the main facts in Wilson's life, reliance up to this time had to be placed on two distinct authorities, domestic and scientific. For the early home, or Paisley days, the unwearied labours of Thomas Crichton, Master of the Town's Hospital, gave welcome help to the reader. Such outline as was given of American experiences had to be sought for in the “Sketch” prepared by his friend Ord for the closing volume of the “Ornithology,” or in still more fragmentary notices written for new editions of that work by Sir William Jardine, Prince C. L. Bonaparte, and Dr. W. M. Hetherington. Under Mr. Grosart's care, Wilson's letters and miscellaneous writings are now made to tell the story of Wilson's life. Of ninety-six letters, forming by far the largest portion of the first volume, thirteen are here printed for the first time, and as many as seventy-four carefully corrected and edited. This should surely satisfy the ambition of even a labourer so zealous and a scholar so exact as the editor of the “Fuller Worthies.” The first five letters written in 1788-9 are addressed to David Brodie, schoolmaster, Quarrelton; the other long and deeply interesting series—sent, some to Brodie, some to his father, others to his friends, Bartram, Orr, and Duncan-extends from 1794, the year of his arrival in the States, to 1813, the year of his death—the last, from Philadelphia, in July, describing the writer as far from being in good health. “Intense application to study has hurt me much. My eighth volume is now in the press, and will be published in November. One volume more will complete the whole.” The letters are preceded by what Mr. Grosart calls a “memorial introduction” from his own pen—throughout which he is very far from following the charming simplicity of Wilson's style—and is most appropriately closed with various essays, prefatory or descriptive, from the Ornithology."
Before dealing with the second or poetical volume, a word or two on Wilson's early life is necessary to let the reader fully understand the great merit of Mr. Grosart's work. Born in what is still known as the Seedhill of Paisley, 6th July, 1766, Wilson's father, also Alexander, and his mother, Mary M‘Nab, a native of Row, Dumbartonshire, appear at a very early period to have entertained an ambition that their “Alic” should enter the Church. ·· This at least may be inferred from the ornithologist's own account in his “Solitary Tutor":
His parents saw, with partial fond delight,
Unfolding genius crown their fostering care,
When, clad in sable gown, with solemn air,
It is not clear, however, that his training at the Grammar School (then presided over by John Davidson) had any special reference to Church work, or that his attendance there was anything else than limited, interrupted, and imperfect. As his fame was to be won later in the woods, so was he sent early to the fields, being employed as a herd laddie at the farm of Bakerfield in the neighbourhood. The tradition is that he was a very careless herd, busying himself too often with a book to keep the kye out of the corn. In his thirteenth year, as appears from the original indenture in Paisley Museum, Wilson entered upon a three years' apprenticeship as a weaver to his brother-in-law, William Duncan, and on its termination wrought for about four years at the loom as a journeyman, residing over that time partly in Paisley and partly in Lochwinnoch and Queensferry. At this latter place, and in conjunction with his first employer, Duncan, Wilson commenced business as a pedlar or travelling merchant, and availed himself at the same time of such opportunities as this line of life offered to obtain subscribers for a small volume of poems, then ready for publication. To his experiences as a packman readers of Scottish poetry are indebted for “The Loss of the Pack," “ The Insulted Pedler," and kindred pieces, some of them read in the first instance by the author to a promiscuous audience in the Pantheon, Edinburgh. The “Poems” appeared in 1790, and a second edition, with some alterations,