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

X. Burns

§ 24. Sir Alexander Boswell

Sir Alexander Boswell, of Auchinleck, the eldest son of Johnson’s biographer, inherited his father’s love of literature. As an Ayrshire man, he was specially interested in the career of Burns, in honour of whom he initiated the movement for the erection of a monument on the banks of Doon. Boswell’s pastoral dialogue Ah! Mary, sweetest maid, Farewell, first published as a sheet song, appeared in the sixth volume of Johnson’s Museum; and he contributed songs to George Thomson’s Welsh Airs, his Irish Airs and his Scottish Airs and to Campbell’s Albyn’s Anthology. In 1803, he published, anonymously, Songs Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect; in 1812, he wrote Sir Albyn, a burlesque of Sir Walter Scott’s poetic methods; and, at his private printing press at Auchinleck, he published various short poems written by himself, as well as reprints of some old works. His squib, The New Whig Song in The Glasgow Sentinel, led to a challenge from James Stuart, of Dunearn, and, in the duel which followed, 26 March, 1822, Boswell was fatally wounded. His Taste Life’s Glad Moments and Paddy O’Rafferty are still well known; but his most characteristic pieces are his humorous vernacular sketches and songs, such as Skeldon Haughs or the Sow flitted, Jenny’s Bawbee and Jenny Dang the Weaver, and the singularly realistic domestic quarrel and reconciliation detailed in The East Neuk of Fife.