In one respect, however, this volume differs from preceding editions. Appended to it is the reprint of a scarce poem written by MOTHERWELL under the pseudonym of “Isaac Brown.” MOTHERWELL more than once gave to the public under the cloak of a name that differed from his the effusions of his own pen.

In the Minstrelsy, at least one ballad attributed to Lovelace had its origin in the Sheriff-Clerk's office at Paisley; and the carefully-elaborated account of the discovery by MOTHERWELL of the “ Curious Poems ” by James Macalpie* is now generally regarded as a fictitious narrative, by means of which the author desired to mislead and mystify the public mind.

Isaac Brown was no more a real personage than James Macalpie. The “ingenious hands” that had to do with Renfrewshire Characters and Scenery were none other than WILLIAM MOTHERWELL'S. The system of mystification adopted by the Poet was more fashionable then than now. It had the sanction of Sir Walter Scott's example, and was, no doubt, convenient in connection with a poem which dealt pawkily, humorously, and, though in kindly fashion, yet somewhat satirically withal, with living Renfrewshire characters as well as with scenery. The prose as well as the verse is admirable, and the production shows the author in a light somewhat different from that in which the pieces which precede exhibit the author. It has therefore been thought well to preserve Renfrewshire Characters and Scenery in the present edition of MOTHERWELL'S Poems.

* See Harp of Renfrewshire, Second Series, Appendix, p. iii.


« VorigeDoorgaan »