1770 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

John Logan, in Bruce, Poems (1770) iii-viii.



MICHAEL BRUCE, the author of the following Poems, lives now no more but in the remembrance of his friends. He was born in a remote village of KINROSS shire, and descended from parents for nothing but the innocence and simplicity of their lives. They, however, had the penetration to discover in their young son a genius superior to the common, and had the merit to give him a polite and liberal education. From his earliest years, he had manifested the most sanguine love of letters, and afterwards made eminent progress in many branches of literature. But poetry was his darling study; the poets were his perpetual companions. He read their works with avidity, and with a congenial enthusiasm; he caught their spirit as well as their manner; and though he sometimes imitated their style, he was a poet from inspiration. No less amiable as a man, than valuable as a writer; endued with good nature, and good sense; humane, friendly, benevolent; he loved his friends, and was beloved by them with a degree of ardour that is only experienced in the aera of youth and innocence.

It was during the summer vactions of the college that he composed the following poems. If images of nature that are beautiful and new; if sentiments, warm from the heart, interesting, and pathetic; if a style, chaste with ornament, and elegant with simplicity; if these, and many other beauties of nature and of art, are allowed to constitute true poetic merit, the following poems will stand high in the judgment of men of taste.

After the author had finished his course of philosophy at EDINBURGH, he was seized with a consumption, of which he died, about the 21st year of his age.

During that disease, and in the immediate view of death, he wrote the elegy which concludes this collection; the latter part of which is wrought up into the most passionate strains of the true pathetic, and is not perhaps inferior to any poetry in any language.

To make up a miscellany, some poems, wrote by different authors, are inserted, all of them original, and none of them destitute of merit. The reader of taste will easily distinguish them from those of MR. BRUCE, without their being particularized by any mark.

Several of these Poems have been approved by persons of the first taste in the kingdom, and the Editor publishes them to that small circle for whom they are intended, not with solicitude and anxiety, but with the pleasurable reflection that he is furnishing out a classical entertainment to every reader of refined taste.