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The thing fairest, and langest lest ;
From all canker maist clein.
The Miseries of a Pure Scolar, as Mr Pinkerton remarks, “is a most interesting poem, and does great honour to the heart and head of its author.” One passage I shall quote, because it contains a contribution to literary history:
In poetrie I preis to pas the tyme,
When cairfull thochts with sorrow sailyes me;
With rascal rymours I sall rakint be:
Thay sal me bourdin als with mony lie,
I wald travel; and ydlenes I hait;
Gif I culd find sum gude vocatioun:
Or I get honest occupatioun.
Letters are lichtliet in our natioun :
The Maitland MSS. preserved at Edinburgh and Cambridge, contain several poems of Arbuthnot which have not hitherto been published.
L I F E
THAT paucity of materials which we have so frequently had occasion to regret, again awaits us at this step of our progress.
our progress. Of the life and character of Alexander Montgomery, a poet who has obtained his share of celebrity, no authentic memorials have been transmitted to our times ; and all that remains for his nominal biographer is fruitless research or unsatisfactory conjecture.
If conjecture may be trusted, he was related to the noble family of Eglintoun. His name however does not occur in the peerage of Douglas or of Crawford : and the prevalent opinion has probably originated from Dempster's asserting that Montgomery was of noble extraction.
From his poem entitled The Navigatioun it appears that he was born in Germany:
my self, I am anc German borne,
The title-page of his works informs us that he was a captain ; but of what denomination, is not apparent. It seems however probable that he followed the profession of a soldier.
According to Dempster, he was commonly known by the name of Eques Montanus, or the Highland Knight: but there is no evidence of his being legally entitled to such an appellation. Polwart mentions him as having resided in Argyle. The author of A Facetious Poem seems to represent him as an inhabitant of the district of Badenyon'. John Wilson, the author of Clyde, a descriptive poem, has hinted that Montgomery occasionally resided at Finlayston in the county of Renfrew :
But Finlayston demands the choicest lays;
2 Montgomery's Poems, p. 105. MS.
b A Facetious Poem in imitation of the Cherry and Slae, giving account of the entertainment Love and Despair got in the Highlands of Scotland; revealed in a dream to one in pursuit of his stoln cows. By G. G. of S. Edinb. 1701, 12no.