1855 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Telfer

Charles Rogers, in Modern Scottish Minstrels (1855-57) 4:273.



James Telfer, an ingenious prose writer and respectable poet, was born about the commencement of the century, near the source of the river Jed, in the parish of Southdean, and county of Roxburgh. Passionate in his admiration of Hogg's "Queen's Wake," he early essayed imitations of some of the more remarkable portions of that poem. In 1824 he published at Jedburgh a volume of "Border Ballads and Miscellaneous Poems," which he inscribed to the Bard of Ettrick. "Barbara Gray," an interesting prose tale, appeared from his pen in 1835, printed at Newcastle. A collected edition of his best productions in prose and verse was published at London in 1852, with the title of "Tales and Sketches." He has long been a contributor to the provincial journals.

Some of Mr Telfer's ballads are respectable specimens of this class of compositions; and his tales in prose are written with much vigour, the narrative of "Barbara Gray" being especially interesting. For many years he has taught an adventure school at Saughtree, Liddisdale; and with emoluments not much beyond twenty pounds a-year, he has contrived to support a family. He has long maintained a literary correspondence with his ingenious friend, Mr Robert White of Newcastle; and his letters, some of which we have seen, abound with curious and interesting speculations.