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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


318 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. copy. The Poem was divided into three parts ; the first, “ A Description of the Methods used to procure Slaves on the Guinea Coast ;” the second, “ Of their Treatment on the Middle Passage ;” and the third, ‘‘ Of their Situation in the West Indies.” It began appropriately with an address to the ‘‘ British fair :”- -- “ In that warm clime alone Does love’s electric fire shoot through no vein, Rapid, resistless, hurrying on the blood, As its elastic channels it would burst 1 Of cruel absence finds no lover there The sadd‘ning influence 1 Can he, in his heart, That void insufferable never feel, . Thou oft, fair maid, hast felt ; a void so great, A world, without the object: loved, to fill, Is far too little 1 To him his dusky mistress is as fair As thou art to thy lover.” He hath felt it too. . The description of Zelia displays considerable poetical talent :- ‘‘ Behold that maid possess’d of every charm That nature boasts, if regular lineaments And faultless symmetry contribute aught To beauty’s form ; if in the various eye It beams or languishes, commands or pleads, With rhetoric resistless ; in the mouth If e’er it smiles, or spreads the toils of love In playful dimples ; if at once it awes And captivates the heart in every look And motion ; if its subtle essence lies In framing to the comparative eye Th’ exterrial image of a lovely soul, Pure, noble, piteous, and benevolent, Harmonious with itself and human kind. Yes-notwithstanding her dark hue, she’s fair ; If beauty floats not lightly on the skin, Nature’s mean rind, her garment outermost, (To fence the finer teguments designed). ” While resident at Forfar, the name 0; Dr. Jamieson was distinguished by the publication of several other works, of which the most important were a “Reply to Dr. Priestley’s History of Early Opinions,” 2 vols. 8vo; and the “.Use of Sacred History,” also in 2 vols. 8vo. On the death of the Rev. Adam Gib, of the Associate Congregation, Nicolson Street, in 1788, Dr. Jamieson was invited to the charge; but it was not till 1797, when the church again became vacant, that he was induced to leave his affectionate congregation in Angusshire. To a man of his tastes and acquirements, much as he might regret the breaking up of old ties, his translation to Edinburgh must have opened up to him many new sources of gratification. Among the extended circle of literary acquaintance, to whom his learning and talents were a ready passport, it is probably worth mentioning that he was on
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 319 terms of intimacy with the late Sir Walter Scott. To the “Minstrelsy of tie Scottish Border,” he contributed the “ Water Kelpie ”-a poem descriptive of the superstitions prevalent in the county of Angus, and intended, in the words of the editor of the Minstrelsy, as “a specimen of Scottish writing more nearly approaching to the classical compositions of our bards than that which has been generally followed for seventy or eighty years past.” The same paragraph “ announces to the literary world that Dr. Jamieson is about to publish a complete Dictionary of the Scottish Dialect.” This great work-for certainly so it is worthy of being called, and one for which every lover of his country must ever be grateful-appeared in two vols. 4to, in 1810.‘ Though not at first with a view to publication, the author, as he mentions in his preface, had begun his researches into the Scottish language thirty years previous. Several of his other works bear ample testimony to his learning and profound inquiry, but the Etymological Dictionary, as a national work, will ever be prized as his chief performance. Whether for its utility, as furnishing a key to old authors and ancient records, or for the light which it throws on the manners and customs of days long gone by, it is equally entitled to the highest commendations. It has been stated that “ the Dictionary of the Scottish Language cannot have cost less labour than Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language.” We conceive it niust have cost a great deal more. The one is the compilation of a living and well-cultivated language ; the other, of one comparatively obsolete, and involving, on the part of the lexicographer, not only the classical acquirements of the former, but the knowledge and research of an antiquary. In the Dissertation on the 0rig;n .of the Scottish Language, prefixed to the Dictionary, Dr. Jamieson contends, with much force of argument, against the prevailing opinion that the Scottish is merely a dialect of the English, acquired in consequence of our intercourse with the South. He claims for it the dignity of a language, on the ground that it is not more allied to the English “ than the Belgic is to the German, the Danish to the Swedish, or the Portuguese to the Spanish.” Like the Anglo-Saxon, the Scottish has a Gothic origin ; and he argues, with much historical acumen, for the Teutonic origin of the Picts, by whom the Lowlands of Scotland were peopled at an early period. Though long a corresponding member of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, Dr. Jamieson did not become an ordinary one till 1815, when he was appointed Secretary conjointly with Mr. A. Smellie, printer, who had held the office alone for twenty years previously. In that year, edited by the Doctor, appeared “ The Bruce and Wallace ; published from two ancient manuscripts preserved in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates ; ” the former by Barbour; the ,latter by Eenry, or “ Blind Harry.” This work, in two vols. 4t0, printed at the Ballantyne press, and got up in a style of superior elegance, was dedicated “to the most noble the Marchioness of Hastings, It was published by the late William Tait, 78 Princes Street (the publisher of Tait’s Edidurgh dlagazine), and two supplementary volumes were added in 1825. This office he held till 1820.
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