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An old Souldier and no Scholler ;
Thus he describes himself in the title page of his “True History
of several Honourable Families of the Right Honourable name of Scott, in the Shires of Roxburgh and Selkirke, and others adjacent; gathered out of Ancient Chroni. cles, Histories, and Traditions of our Fathers.” Edinburgh
1688; reprinted 1776. On the death of his grandfather, Sir Robert Scott of Thirl.
stone, his father having no means to bring up his chil. dren, put this Walter to attend beasts in the field ; “but," says he, “ I gave them the short cut at last, and left the kine in the carn, and ever since that time I have con
tinued a souldier abroad and at home,"&c. There is so great a difference in the style of the specimen
subjoined, that it is hardly possible to suppose it all comes from the same hand. "There is so much of the whimsical solemnity of NOTHING in it, that although it does not much illustrate the character of its age, it would not be fair to withhold it from the reader. But be it remembered, that it was written at seventy-three.
Dedicated to the very worshipful and much honoured
generous Gentleman, Hugh Scott, of Gallow
shiells, and Walter Scott, of Wauchop. O! for a quill of that Arabian wing, That's hatch'd in embers of some kindred fire, Who to herself, herself doth issue bring, And, three in one, is young, and dame and sier : O! that I could to Virgil's vein aspire, Or Homer's verse, the golden language Greek, With polish'd phrases, I my lines would tire, Into the deep of art my muse should seek; Meantime amongst the vulgar she must throng, Because she hath no help from my unlearned
tongue ; Great is the glory of the noble mind, Where life and death are equal in respect, If fates be good or bad, unkind, or kind; Not proud in freedom, nor in thrall deject; With courage scorning fortune's worst effect, And spitting in fond envie's canker'd face, True honour thus doth baser thoughts deject; Esteeming life a slave that serves disgrace, Foul abject thoughts become the mind that's base, That deems there is no better life nor this, Or after death doth fear a worser place, Where guilt is paid the guerdon of a miss ;
But let swoln envy swell until she burst,
sprung, That Wat of Whitehaugh was cousin-german, To John of Borthwick, who fasted so long,
Three sundry times he did perform
And was neither hungry, sick, nor sore;'
He was the son of Walter, I have said enough,
Begone my book, stretch forth thy
wings and fly, Amongst the nobles and gentility : Thou'rt not to sell to scavingers and clowns, But given to worthy persons of renown. The number's few, I've printed in regard, My charges have been great, and I hope reward ; I caused not print many above twelve score, And the printers are engag'd that they shall print