Home  »  Volume XI: English THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION  »  § 20. Dr. Blacklock; Richard Gall; John Hamilton; John Lapraik; John Lowe

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

X. Burns

§ 20. Dr. Blacklock; Richard Gall; John Hamilton; John Lapraik; John Lowe

Among the more voluminous contributors to Johnson’s Museum was Burns’s friend, the blind poet, Dr. Blacklock; but the character of his lyrics is sufficiently indicated in the words of Burns, so far as they apply to his friend. “He,” he says, in his tactfully and modestly polite fashion, “as well as I, often gave Johnson verses, trifling enough perhaps, but they served as a vehicle for the music.” Blacklock’s contributions, all in pure English, are, in fact, quite commonplace and characterless. There is, however, some poetic feeling in the contributions, mainly in English, of Richard Gall, an Edinburgh printer, whose Poems and Songs were published posthumously at Edinburgh in 1819; but, neither his Farewell to Ayrshire, sent by him to Johnson’s Museum with the name of Burns attached to it, nor his Now Bank and Brae, wrongly ascribed to Burns by Cromek, is of greater merit than the more indifferent lyrics of Burns. John Hamilton, a music-seller in Edinburgh—mainly remembered for the additions to Of a’ the Airts, which he ventured to make as he was accustomed to do to other songs which he sold with the music in sheets—contributed several songs to Johnson’s Museum; but none of them call for mention here. Burns sent to the Museum two songs by the John Lapraik of his poetic Epistles: When I upon thy Bosom Lean, the “song that pleased me best” of the Epistle, and Jenny was Frail and Unkind. Because of a somewhat different version of the former song having appeared in Ruddiman’s Magazine in 1773, Lapraik’s authorship of it has been questioned; but he included it in his published Poems (1788). John Lowe, an episcopal clergyman of Kirkcudbrightshire, is represented in volume I of Johnson’s Museum by the tragic song, in pure English, Mary’s Dream, of which a forged vernacular version, doubtless by Allan Cunningham, appeared in Cromek’s Remains as the original. Pompey’s Ghost, also, is attributed to Lowe by Burns; but it appeared in The Blackbird in 1764, when Lowe was only fourteen years old.