1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Drummond

Robert Southey, in British Poets, Chaucer to Jonson (1831) 798.



DRUMMOND, the first Scotch poet who wrote well in English, was born December 13th, 1585, at Hawthornden. Sir John Drummond, his father, was gentleman usher to James VI., his mother, the daughter of Sir William Fowler, Queen Anne of Denmark's secretary. He was bred at Edinburgh, and studied the civil law at Bourges; but on his father's death wisely forsook that pursuit, and retired to his delightful patrimony at Hawthornden, there to enjoy the contentment of a literary life. But that life was embittered by private griefs and public calamities. He had wooed and won an accomplished lady, who, when the marriage day was fixed, was carried off by a rapid fever. Eight years he travelled, to distract his mind from the deep sorrow which this loss occasioned; and in the forty-fifth year of his age he married Elizabeth Logan, who had gained his affections by her strong resemblance to his first love. He then lived after his heart's desire, at home; repaired his family house, and placed this inscription on it, "Divino munere Gulilmus Drummondus, ab Hawthornden, Joannis Equitis aurati filius, ut honesta otio quiesceret, sibi et successoribus instauravit, 1638." But the civil wars came on: he was harrassed as a malignant, and compelled by the ruling party to furnish his quota of men against the king, whom he loved; and when that king was put to death by a triumphant faction, his spirit, and his heart, were broken, and his grey hairs were brought down with sorrow to the grave.

It is to be regretted that modern editors have not rejected a few reprehensible, and thoroughly worthless pieces, which disgrace this author's works; for Drummond deserves the high reputation which he has obtained. It has not been observed that he frequently borrows and sometimes translates from the Italian and Spanish poets.