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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIV. Scottish Popular Poetry before Burns

§ 7. Watson’s Choice Collection

Habbie Simson, already well known as a broadside, was included in Watson’s Choice Collection, together with an anonymous epitaph in the same stave and manner on the famous traveller William Lithgow, and a variation, The Last Dying Words of Bonnie Heck, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, on which Ramsay modelled his Lucky Spence’s Last Advice, and The Last Speech of a Wretched Miser, and which, though not in the same stave, suggested Burns’s Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie. Hamilton and Ramsay also set another fashion for the use of the stave by utilising it for a series of poetical epistles that passed between them. Other modern pieces in Watson’s Collection were The Blythesome Bridal, The Banishment of Povertie, The Speech of a Fife Laird and The Mare of Collington. The most notable of the old pieces were Christis Kirk and Montgomerie’s The Cherrie and the Slae, both of which had long previously appeared in print; and it is worthy of note that it was in the staves of Habbie and these two poems that the most characteristically Scottish nonlyrical verse found expression. The lyrical verse of the revival was not so uniformly Scottish as the other, and much of that which was truly Scottish in tone and method was not so consistently vernacular in its language. In the non-lyrical verse, the influence of the old “makaris” is predominant.