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been mostly connected with the earl of Stirling, and the celebrated English poets, Drayton and Ben Jonson. The latter, as already noticed in his life, paid him a visit at Hawthornden, and communicated to him without reserve, many particulars of his life and opinions, which Drummond committed to writing, with a sketch of Jonson's character and habits which has not been thought very liberal. This charge of illiberality, however, is considerably lessened when we reflect that Drummond appears to have had no intention of publishing what he had collected from Jonson, and that the manuscript did not appear until many years after he was beyond all censure or praise.
An edition of Drummond's poems was printed at London, 1656 octavo, with a preface by Phillips, which is here retained. The Edinburgh edition in folio, 1711, includes the whole of his works both in verse and prose, his poetical papers, familiar letters and the History of the Jameses; with an account of his life which, however unsatisfactory, is all that can now be relied on'. A recent edition of his poems was printed at London in 1791, but somewhat differently arranged from that of 1656. A more correct arrangement is still wanting, if his numerous admirers shall succeed in procuring that attention of which he has been hitherto deprived.
As a poet he ranks among the first reformers of versification, and in elegance, harmony, and delicacy of feeling is so superior to his contemporaries that the neglect with which he has been treated would appear unaccountable, if we did not consider that it is but of late the public attention has been drawn to the more ancient English poets. Mr. Headly, however, Mr. Neve the ingenious author of Cursory Remarks on some of the ancient English poets, Dr. Warton, Mr. Pinkerton, Mr. Park and other critics of unquestionable taste have lately expatiated on his merit with so much zeal and ability, that he is no longer in danger of being overlooked, unless by those superficial readers who are content with what is new and fashionable, and profess to be amateurs of an art of which they know neither the history nor the principles.
"He inherited," says his last encomiast, "a native poetic genius, but vitiated by the false taste which prevailed in his age,—a fondness for the conceits of the Italian poets, Petrarch and Marino, and their imitators among the French, Ronsard, Bellai, and Du Bartas. Yet many of his sonnets contain simple and natural thoughts clothed in great beauty of expression. His poem entitled Forth Feasting, which attracted the envy as well as the praise of Ben Jonson, is superior, in harmony of numbers, to any of the compositions of the contemporary poets of England; and is, in its subject, one of the most elegant panegyrics that ever were addressed by a poet to a prince. In prose writing, the merits of Drummond are as unequal as they are in poetry. When an imitator, he is harsh, turgid, affected and unnatural; as in his History of the Five Jameses, which, though judicious in the arrangment of the matter, and abounding in excellent political and moral sentiments, is barbarous and uncouth in its style, from an affectation of imitating partly the manner of Livy, and partly that of Tacitus. Thus, there is a perpetual departure from ordinary construction, and frequently a violation of the English idiom. In others of his prose compositions, where he followed his own taste, as in the Irene and CypressGrove, and particularly in the former, there is a remarkable purity and ease of expression, and often a very high tone of eloquence. The Irene, written in 1638, is a persuasive to civil union, and the accommodation of those fatal differences between the king
1 Mr. G. Chalmers is of opinion that the learned Ruddiman assisted in preparing this edition. Chalmers's Life of Ruddiman, p. 53. C.
and the people, then verging to a crisis: it is a model of a popular address; and allowing for its pushing too far the doctrine of passive obedience, bears equal evidence of the political sagacity, copious historical information, and great moral worth and benevolence of its author." As the neglect of one age is sometimes repaid by the extravagant commendations of another, perhaps this temperate, judicious and elegant character of Drummond copied from Lord Woodhouselee's Life of Kaimes, will be found more consistent with the spirit of true criticism than some of those empassioned sketches in which judgment has less share.
There is one poem, now added to his other works, of a very different kind. It is entitled Polemo-Middinia, or the Battle of the Dunghill, a rare example of burlesque, and the first macaronic poem by a native of Great Britain. A copy of it was published by bishop Gibson, when a young man, at Oxford in 1691, 4to. with Latin notes2; but the text, probably from Mr. Gibson's being unacquainted with the Scotch language, is less correct than that of any copy that has fallen in the way of the present editor, who has therefore preferred the elegant edition printed by Messrs. Foulis of Glasgow in 1768. The humour of this piece is so remote from the characteristics of his polished mind and serious muse, that it may be regarded as a very singular curiosity. It appears to me to be the fragment of a larger poem which the author wrote for the amusement of his friends, but was not anxious to preserve. Mr. Gilchrist conjectures that it was written when Drummond was on a visit to his brother-in-law at Scotstarvet, and that it alludes to some rustic dispute well known at the time.
2 See a curious paper on this edition, by Mr. Gilchrist, in the Censura Literaria, vol. iii. p. 359. C.
EDITION OF 1656.
TO THE READER.
To say that these poems are the effects of a genius, the most polite and verdant that ever the Scottish nation produced, although it be a commendation not to be rejected, (for it is well known, that that country hath afforded many rare and admirable wits) yet it is not the highest that may be given him ; for should I affirm that neither Tasso, nor Guarini, nor any of the most neat and refined spirits of Italy, nor even the choicest of our English poets, can challenge to themselves any advantages above him, it could not be judged any attribute superiour to what he deserves; nor shall I thinke it any arrogance to maintain, that among all the severall fancies, that in these times have exercised the most nice and curious judgements, there hath not come forth any thing that deserves to be welcomed into the world with greater estimation and applause: and though he hath not had the fortune to be so generally famed abroad, as many others, perhaps, of lesse esteeme, yet this is a consideration that cannot at all diminish, but rather advance his credit; for by breaking forth of obscurity he will attract the higher admiration, and, like the Sun emerging from a cloud, appeare at length with so much the more forcible rayes. Had there been nothing extant of him but his History of Scotland, consider but the language, how florid and ornate it is; consider the order, and the prudent conduct of his story, and you will ranke him in the number of the best writers, and compare him even with Thuanus himselfe. Neither is he lesse happy in his verse than prose: for here are all those graces met together that conduce any thing toward the making up of a compleat and perfect poet, a decent and becomming majesty, a brave and admirable height, and a wit so flowing, that Jove himselfe never dranke nectar that sparkled with a more spritly lustre. Should I dwell any longer (ingenuous reader) upon the commendation of this incomparable author, I should injure thee, by forestalling the freedome of thy owne judgement, and him, by attempting a vain designe, since there is nothing can so well set him forth as his own works; besides the losse of time, which is but trifled away so long as thou art detained from perusing the poems themselves.
N my first prime, when childish humours fed My wanton wit, ere I did know the bliss Lies in a loving eye, or amorous kiss, Or with what sighs a lover warms his bed; By the sweet Thespian sisters' errour led, I had more mind to read, than lov'd to write, And so to praise a perfect red and white; But (God wot) knew not what was in my head. Love smil'd to see me take so great delight, To turn those antiques of the age of gold, And that I might more mysteries behold, He set so fair a volume to my sight, That I Ephemerides laid aside, Glad on this blushing book my death to read.
I KNOW that all beneath the Moon decays,
YE who so curiously do paint your thoughts,
Love here blindfolded stands with bow and dart,
So high conceptions to express my smart;
Aн me, and I am now the man whose Muse