in the preparation of his Basilikon Doran. Ambassador to England 1590–1600, he was made a knight bachelor, and in 1601 was sent to France. He died at Paisley in 1626. His wife was Egidia or Geillis Elphinstone of Blythswood. He wrote some theological works in prose, but is chiefly remembered for the poem “ The Packman's Pater Noster,” a vigorous attack upon the Church of Rome. An edition was published at Edinburgh in 1669 entitled “A Pick-tooth for the Pope, or the Packman's Pater Noster, translated out of Dutch by S. I. S., and newly augmented and enlarged by his son R. S.” (reprinted by Paterson). Seven poems, chiefly of an amorous character, are printed in T. G. Stevenson's edition of The Sempill Ballates.
Robert Sempill [the younger] (1595?–1665?), son of the above, was educated at the university of Glasgow, having matriculated in March 1613. During the Civil War he fought for the Stuarts, and seems to have suffered heavy pecuniary losses under the Commonwealth. He died between 1660 and 1669. He married Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Lyon of Auldbar. His reputation is based on the ballad, “ The Life and Death of Habbie Simpson, Piper of Kilbarchan," written c. 1640. It is an interesting picture of the times; and it gave fresh vogue to the popular six-lined stanza which was much used later by Ramsay, Fergusson and Burns (see particularly, Burns's “ Poor Mailie's Elegy ”). Two broadside copies were printed before 1700, and it appeared in James Watson's Collection of Poems (1706–1710). Sempill is supposed to be' the author also of an epitaph on “ Sawney Briggs, nephew to Habbie Simpson,” written in the same stanza. He wrote a continuation of his father's “ Packman's Pater Noster.”
Francis Sempill (1616?–1682) was a son of Robert Sempill the younger. No details of his education are known. His fidelity to the Stuarts involved him in money difficulties, to meet which he alienated portions of his estates to his son. Before 1677 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Renfrewshire. He died at Paisley in March 1682. Sempill wrote many occasional pieces, and his fame as a wit was widespread. Among his most important works is the “ Banishment of Poverty,” which contains some biographical details. “ The Blythsome Wedding,” long attributed to Francis Sempill, has been more recently asserted to be the work of Sir William Scott of Thirlestane. Sempill's claim to the authorship of the celebrated song “ She raise and let me in,” and of the ballad “ Maggie Lauder,” has been discussed at considerable length. It seems probable that he had some share in both.
See the works mentioned below in the article on the elder Robert Sempill, and The Poems of the Sempills of Beltrees, ed. James Paterson (Edinburgh, 1849); A Literary History of Scotland, by J. H. Millar (1903); and Notes and Queries, 9th series (xi., 1903, pp. 436–437).
SEMPILL, ROBERT [the elder] (c. 1530–1595), Scottish ballad-writer, was in all probability a cadet of illegitimate birth of the noble house of Sempill or Semple. Very little is known of his life. He appears to have spent some time in Paris. He was probably a soldier, and must have held some office at the Scottish court, as his name appears in the lord treasurer's books in February 1567–1568, and his writings show him to have had an intimate knowledge of court affairs. He was a bitter opponent of Queen Mary and of the Catholic Church. Sempill was present at the siege of Leith (1559–1560), was in Paris in 1572, but was driven away by the massacre of St Bartholomew. He was probably present at the siege of Edinburgh Castle (1573), serving with the army of James Douglas, earl of Morton. He died in 1595. His chief works are: “ The Ballat maid vpoun Margret Fleming call it the Flemyng bark ”; “ The defence of Crissell Sandelandis”; “ The Claith Merchant or Ballat of Jonet Reid, ane Violet and Ane Quhyt,” all three in the Bannatyne MS. They are characterized by extreme coarseness, and are probably among his earlier works. His chief political poems are “ The Regentis Tragedie,” a broadside of 1570; “ The Sege of the Castel of Edinburgh ” (1573), interesting from an historical point of view; “ Ane Complaint vpon fortoun . . . ” (1581), and “ The Legend of the Bischop of St Androis Lyfe callit Mr Patrik Adamsone ” (1583).
See Chronicle of Scottish Poetry (ed. James Sibbald, Edinburgh, 1802); and “ Essays on the Poets of Renfrewshire," by William Motherwell, in The Harp of Renfrewshire (Paisley, 1819; reprinted 1872). Modern editions of Sempill are: “ Sege of the Castel of Edinburgh," a facsimile reprint with introduction by David Constable (1813); The Sempill Ballates (T. G. Stevenson, Edinburgh, 1872) containing all the poems; Satirical poems of the Reformation (ed. James Cranstoun, Scottish Text Soc., 2 vols., 1889–1893), with a memoir of Sempill and a bibliography of his poems.
SEMUR-EN-AUXOIS, a town of eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Côte-d'Or, 45 m. W.N.W. of Dijon on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) 3278. Semur occupies one of the finest sites in France, on the extremity of a plateau dominating the river Armançon, which surrounds the town on three sides. The river forms this extremity into a peninsula which is occupied by the old town, once surrounded by ramparts, the remains of which are still to be seen. An isthmus, on which stands the castle, unites the older to the newer quarter, in which are situated an old gateway of the 15th century and the church of Notre-Dame. This building, which belongs mainly to the 13th century, is one of the purest examples of Gothic architecture in Burgundy, though the narrowness of the nave, to some degree, spoils its proportions. The portal with its three arched openings projects from the façade, which is flanked by two square towers surmounted by balustrades. Of the artistic features of the interior one of the most noteworthy is the sculptured keystone of the vaulting of the apse, representing the crowning of the Virgin. The castle (13th and 14th centuries) consists of a rectangular keep flanked by four towers. Portions of it are still in use. Among the numerous old houses in the town is one belonging to the time of Louis XIV. of which the last proprietor was Florent Claude du Châtelet, husband of the friend of Voltaire. It is now used as a hospital. Semur possesses a sub-prefecture, a tribunal of first instance and a communal college. It is an important market centre for the Auxois and Morvan, and has trade in horses, grain, sheep, fruit and vegetables. Cement, leather, oil, and chemical manures are among its industrial products.
Semur (Sinemurum) was a Gallic fortress in the dark ages and in feudal times a castle of the dukes of Burgundy. In the 11th century it became capital of Auxois. Its communal charter dates from 1276. The incorporation of Burgundy with France was resisted by the town, which was taken and pillaged by the royal troops in 1478. During the wars of religion in the 16th century it served as refuge for the Leaguers, and though it submitted to Henry IV. at his accession its fortifications were destroyed in 1602.
SÉNAC DE MEILHAN, GABRIEL (1736–1803), French writer, son of Jean Sénac, physician to Louis XV., was born in Paris in 1736. He entered the civil service in 1762; two years later he bought the office of master of requests, and in 1766 further advanced his position by a rich marriage. He was successively intend ant of La Rochelle, of Aix and of Valenciennes. In 1776 he became intendant-general for war, but was soon compelled to resign. He had hoped to be made minister of finance, and was disappointed by the nomination of Necker, of whom he became a bitter opponent. He was intimate with the comtesse de Tessé, sister of the duc de Choiseul, and in 1781 met Madame de Créquy, then sixty-seven years of age, and began a long friendship with her. His first book was the fictitious Mémoires d'Anne de Gonzague, princesse palatine (1786), thought by many people at the time to be genuine. In the next year followed the Considérations sur les richesses et le luxe, combating the opinions of Necker; and in 1788 the more valuable Considérations sur l'esprit et les mœurs, a book which abounds in sententious, but often excessively frank, sayings. Sénac witnessed the beginnings of the Revolution in Paris, but emigrated in 1790, making his way first to London, and then, in 1791, to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he met Pierre Alexandre de Tilly, who asserts in his Memoirs that Sénac attributed the misfortunes of Louis XVI. to the refusal of his own services. In 1793, while his recollections of the Revolution were still fresh, he wrote a novel, L'Émigré (Hamburg, 4 vols., 1797), which shows perspicacity and good judgment in its treatment of events. It was reprinted in 1904 in an abridged form by Casimir Stryienski and Frantz Funck-Brentano. At the invitation of Catherine II. Sénac went in 1792 to Russia, where he hoped to become imperial historiographer, but his manners displeased Catherine, who contented herself with dismissing him with a pension. From Russia he went to Hamburg,