1855 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Grant

Charles Rogers, in Modern Scottish Minstrel (1855-57) 4:143-44.



JOSEPH GRANT, a short-lived poet and prose writer, was born on the farm of Affrusk, parish of Banchory-Ternan, Kincardineshire, on the 26th of May 1805. He was instructed in the ordinary branches at the parish school, and employed as a youth in desultory labour about his father's farm. From boyhood he cherished a passionate love for reading, and was no less ardent in his admiration of the picturesque and beautiful in nature. So early as his fourteenth year he composed verses of some merit. In 1828, he published Juvenile Lays, a collection of poems and songs; and in 1830, Kincardineshire Traditions — a small volume of ballads — both of which obtained a favourable reception. Desirous of emanating from the retirement of his native parish, he accepted, in 1831, the situation of assistant to a shopkeeper in Stonehaven, and soon afterwards proceeded to Dundee, where he was employed in the office of the Dundee Guardian newspaper, and subsequently as clerk to a respectable writer.

Grant furnished a series of tales and sketches for Chambers's Edinburgh Journal. In 1834, he published a second small volume of "Poems and Songs;" and subsequently, in the same year, committed to the press a prose work, entitled Tales of the Glens, which he did not, however, survive to publish. After an illness of fifteen weeks, of a pulmonary complaint, he died on the 14th April 1835, in his thirtieth year. His remains were interred in the churchyard of Strachan, Kincardineshire, where a tombstone, inscribed with some elegiac verses, has been erected to his memory. The Tales of the Glens were published shortly after his decease, under the editorial care of the late Mr. James M'Cosh, of Dundee, editor of the Northern Warder newspaper; and, in 1836, an edition of his collected works was published at Edinburgh, with a biographical preface by the poet Nicol.

Of a fine genius, a gentle and amiable nature, and pure Christian sentiments, Grant afforded eminent promise, with a prolonged career, of becoming an ornament to literature. Cut down in the bloom of youth, his elegy has been recorded by the Brechin poet, Alexander Laing—

A kinder, warmer heart than his
Was ne'er to minstrel given;
And kinder, holier sympathies
Ne'er sought their native heaven.