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as the object was, I felt at that moment the sweet sensation that mercy leaves on the mind when she triumphs over cruelty."
Wilson appears to have obtained 250 subscribers to his “Ornithology," but the total number printed is not exactly stated. A list of the names and Institutions is given in the second volume of Mr. Grosart's work, and among them it is gratifying to observe the University of Glasgow and the Hunterian Museum. The first volume appeared in 1808, the eighth in 1814, with the sorrowful announcement of the author's death. The end was characteristic of the man. While sitting in the house of one of his friends, enjoying the pleasures of conversation, he chanced to see a bird of rare species, for which he had long been in search. With his usual enthusiasm he ran out, followed it, swam across a river over which it had flown, fired at, killed, and obtained the object of his pursuit; but caught a cold, which, bringing on dysentery, ended in his death, 23rd August, 1813. His remains were deposited in the burial-ground of the Swedish Church, Southwark District, Philadelphia. While in good health he is said to have expressed a wish to be laid in some rural spot where the birds might sing over his grave. It is in a business district of the city, but on paying a pilgrim visit Mr. Grosart heard an ariole piping softly and sweetly a few yards from the resting-place of the ornithologist. The two volumes with which we have been dealing present by far the most complete picture yet sent forth of Wilson the poet and Wilson the ornithologist. Here he appears as he lived—a man possessed of genuine gifts and tender feeling, allied to indomitable perseverance, unflagging power of endurance, and the still rarer virtue of thorough simplicity in character. The memorial statue erected within the enclosure of Paisley Abbey was a fitting tribute to the genius of one of the most distinguished natives of the old burgh, and a recognition no less of the increasing fame which Time is sure to gather round the memory of Alexander Wilson.
MOTHERWELL AND CUNNINGHAM.
SIMILARITY in taste, something in style, more in experience, and a great deal in the form of contributions to the minstrelsy of Scotland, make it convenient to notice Motherwell and Cunningham together. So far as the work known as Cromek's “Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song" is concerned, a note prefixed to the latest edition, makes no apology necessary for continuing to treat it as has been generally done since its first issue, over seventy years since, as substantially the work of Allan Cunningham. Cromek himself was a fussy yet useful man in his day, and, although somewhat credulous, did good service to the ballad literature of Scotland, albeit he was a native of Yorkshire. In his memoir of Blake as an artist, Cunningham writes of his early patron, the engraver, as having skill in art and taste in literature, although “honest Allan's" latest editor sets him down as a sharp man of business, no way averse to take advantage of artists working for him. The history of the “Remains,” in a published form, is given with substantial accuracy in the prefatory note already referred to. When the songs of Burns had been given to the world with judicious care by Dr. Currie, Cromek became so attracted by their delineations of Scottish life that he made a pilgrimage to the North, and collected material for his “Reliques of Robert Burns,” published in 1808, and for which he was made a member of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland. After its publication he again came North, and it was during this second visit he met Allan Cunningham, and secured the material which appears in the Nithsdale and Galloway “Remains." Cunningham was at the time working as a mason in Dumfriesshire, but neglected trade in his ardent pursuit of literature; and it was partly through Cromek's advice and influence that in the very year when the “Remains” appeared he went to London and became connected with the newspaper press. It is said that Allan presented some of his poetry to Cromek, but received only feeble praise for his productions, until the thought occurred to him that he might secure more favourable criticisms if he appealed to Cromek's weak side by saying they were traditionary remains. The bait took; the patron became enthusiastic, and the result was "The Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song."
Certain general similarities between Cunningham and Motherwell have already been pointed out, but it may be proper to mention in connection therewith that they overlapped each other in their lives as well as their writings. Born in 1784 the boy Cunningham was just beginning to scribble his first lines when Motherwell was born in 1797. The first survived his brother poet seven years, dying in 1842, at the age of fifty-eight, while the younger, born in 1797, the year after Burns's death, was just spared to exceed the age of Burns by one year, being laid with honour in our Necropolis in 1835 at the early age of thirtyeight. Cunningham commenced rhyming young, although his more important printed pieces did not see the light till the “Remains” were printed in 1810, when the poet had reached the mature age of twenty-six. Motherwell's earliest work, in the “Harp of Renfrewshire," appeared in 1819, when he was about twenty-two. Each forsook his first business in life for journalism, Cunningham contributing to the London press between the period when he abandoned the mason trade in Scotland, when he became connected with Chantrey; while Motherwell forsook his clerkly duties in the Sheriff's office to assume editorial work, first in connection with the Tory “Advertiser” in Paisley, but latterly, and with greater prominence, because in his best known days, on the Tory “Courier" in Glasgow, from 1830 till his death. Cunningham was nothing of a politician. Motherwell, on the other hand, was both zealous and informed in the cause he espoused; and, though it may seem a strange transition to pass from the serene heights of poetry to the noisy jostling of party strife, the author of Sigurd's “Battle Flag” was early embroiled in the Reform excitement, and there is no reason for doubting that he wrote on politics with as much sincerity, and even with as great a measure of contentment, as he brought to bear on his ballads and songs. There was still other kindred work engaged in by the two poets. Cunningham issued his collection of “The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and
Modern," in 1825, and Motherwell his Scottish “Minstrelsy, Ancient and
" Modern,” in 1827, each having followed out in his own way the lines laid down by Scott in his Border “Minstrelsy," issued from Ballantyne's Kelso press in 1802. Again, both poets were ardent admirers of Burns, and each issued an edition of his works, which appeared the same year (1834), Motherwell being associated in his task with James Hogg. Each of them also imitated the ancient ballads, and amused friends with them as genuine antiques. In gifts they were not far removed. It may be, and indeed it is certain, that there is nothing in Cunningham quite up to the level of “Jeannie Morrison,” or “My Heid is Like to Rend, Willie;" but, as in the case of his townsman, Alexander Wilson (see p. 296), it should be remembered that Motherwell himself nowhere else rises to the same height. So sound a judge as Miss Mitford doubted if even among all the writings of Burns there was anything so exquisitely finished, so free from a line too many or a word out of place as these two lyric ballads. In other pieces, whether they be songs or ballads, the advantage will often be found to lie with the author of "A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea.” For a landsman, never familiar with the sea beyond an occasional trip in a Margate hoy, to have written such a song at all is in itself a marvel. " The Mermaid of Galloway,” and “Bonnie Lady Ann," both included in the “Remains,” are quite equal to either “The Master of Weemys” or “The Song of the Danish Sea King." But where so much is excellent in both, further distinction or parallel may appear invidious. The old words used by Motherwell in dedicating the “Poems" to his friend Kennedy may be applied to each—“A posie of gilly-flowers, each differing from other in colour and odour, yet all sweete." The claim made by Dr. M'Connechy to a distinguished place for his friend among the minor poets is not likely to be disputed, as he has undoubtedly enriched the language with many noble specimens of song.
The Doctor's carefully written memoir of his friend, whom he succeeded in the editorial chair of the “Courier,” is prefixed to Mr. Gardner's “Reprint,” as prepared for the edition of 1846. “Christopher North" found concentrated in Motherwell
clearness in perception, soundness in sense, and fine but strong sensibilities, all leading him to the true haunts of inspiration—the woods and glens of his native country, and the music of her old songs. The closing verses of “Wearie's Well” are inexpressibly touching
Farewell, and for ever,
My first love and last;
Mine live in the past.
In sorrow and sadness
This hour fa's on me;
It fleet over thee.
Then there is that plaintive touch of humble life in “Oh, wae be to the Orders," which Motherwell placed first among his songs :
I never think o dancin', and I downa try to sing,
In a dedication to his friend, W. Kennedy, Motherwell writes of his Norse legends as intended only to be a faint shadow of Norse poetry :-"All that is historical about them is contained in the proper names. The first, ‘Sigurd's Battle Flag,' does not follow the story as given in the Northern Sagas, but only adopts the incident of the Magic Standard, which carries victory to the party by whom it is displayed, but certain death to its bearer. . Jarl Egill Skallagrim's Wooing Song' is entirely a creation, and nothing of it is purely historical, save the preserving of the name of that warrior and Skald. From the memorials, however, he has left us of himself, I think he could not well have wooed in a different fashion. As for “Thorstein Raudi,' or the Red, that is a name which occurs in Northern history; but, as may well be supposed, he never said so much in all his life about his sword or himself, as I have taken the fancy of putting into his mouth.”