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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/140

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Besze"; and immediately underneath begins " pseaume I." with the music, and so on with the rest of the Psalms. The copy I have referred to is in the British Museum .

"Theodore Beza" is mentioned in Sir W. Scott's ' The Monastery,' chap. xxxi.


WEALEMEFNA (9 th S. x. 367, 390). The name seems to be a nonsensical anagram, formed out of the words " a new female."


Trinity College, Melbourne University.

MICHAEL BRUCE AND BURNS (9 th S. vii. 466 ; viii. 70, 148, 312, 388, 527 ; ix. 95, 209, 309, 414, 469, 512 ; x. 69, 130, 449 ; xi. 11). It is generally prudent (as it is courteous) to wait for the end of a speech or the full elaboration of a case before offering criticism. Occasion- ally, however, it is expedient, and even necessary, to interpose and call for explana- tions or statements supplementary to a general argument. With a feeling that such an occasion has arisen in this discussion, I now use the privileges of debate to call for more light. Controversy is nothing unless the arguments advanced are definite and explicit, and if these are hypothetical or ambiguous the result is less than nothing and vanity. The statements regarding ' Levina ' at the last two references are advanced with an air of authority that is unwarrant- able unless with the support of adequate evidence. My desire is to nave the proofs on which the assertions are based.

In the first place, it is pointed out that Bruce wrote 'Lochleven' within six months, and one may here express gratification at finding that the poet is allowed to have had at least a share in the authorship of his own work. He was, however, at the time of com- position an invalid and a schoolmaster, and it is argued that he must have accomplished his task with a struggle, contenting himself with finishing a rough copy of the piece. Infirm health, no doubt, has a handicapping effect, and teaching, even with strong men, is prone to be not only a thankless, but an exasperating avocation, as one gathers from the recorded experience of Dr. Johnson and Carlyle. Still Bruce plodded on, and he gives some details of the patient care with which he elaborated 'Lochleven.' In the result the poem contained " nearly 650 lines,' which its latest critic regards as' an achieve- ment to which a sickly poet was totally inadequate. Let him consider, however, how the matter stands. The task was manifestly accomplished at a rate which averages some- thing less than four lines a day for the

finished product. Surely there was room lere not only for a " first draft," but for a "air copy to be inserted in the bound volume yhich Bruce religiously filled ! A poet must lot be measured with the tape-line of an undertaker. Dryden wrote 'Alexander's ?east ' at a sitting, and Cowper, who was not a robust man, produced ' John Gilpin ' in one night. Christopher Smart, while actually nsane, evolved the tempestuous raptures of lis 'Song to David.' Altogether, there must be direct unequivocal proof before it can be allowed that Bruce was not equal to his daily output of four finished lines of verse.

Secondly, we have the bald, categorical assertion that " the ' first draft ' was the 3iece as Bruce finished it." This should certainly be supported by evidence, and not a jot is offered. It so happens that the first draft of 'Lochleven' was one of the few papers restored by Logan to Bruce's father, inq apparently we are now expected to oelieve that the poem was not included in the MS. volume which Logan said his servant nad used in singeing fowls. It is, perhaps, necessary to explain that when Logan con- stituted himself the literary executor of his departed friend, he secured not only the book containing the poems in their com- pleted form, but likewise all the poet's letters ind other available papers. Among the latter was the first draft of 'Lochleven,' recovered with difficulty by Bruce's father, and ultimately seen by editors and bio- graphers. With only this MS. to guide him in forming an opinion Dr. Baird concluded that if Logan had used nothing else in pre- paring the volume of 1770 he must have finished the poem himself. There is little wonder though he was surprised to find how well as an editor he seemed to have imitated his author's style. But it will not do to say that the first draft was all that Bruce managed ; at any rate, it is a very daring thing to say so without offering proof of the assertion.

Thirdly, we are assured not only that Bruce's editor added the episode of ' Levina ' to ' Lochleven,' but that the poem as pub- lished "appears in the form it assumed after Logan's transforming hand had touched it." Again, evidence is indispensable to secur assent. Did Logan himself ever claim have written any part of the poem, or virtually to have made it what it is ? Did he ever indicate that it was not in Bruce's MS. volume, ruthlessly desecrated by his cook ; arid did he ever profess to have trans- formed the giant into a hunter, and to have accomplished all the other things with which he is now credited 1 If so, let us have a well-