1894 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. David Macbeth Moir

David McAllister, in Poets and Poetry of the Covenant (1894) 10-11.



Dr. Moir was born at Musselburgh, five miles east of Edinburgh, in January, 1798, and at the grammar school there, and at the University of Edinburgh, he received his education. At the early age of eighteen he received his diploma as a doctor of medicine, and began to practice in his native town, in company, however, with one more aged, Dr. Brown, already in practice there. At the same early age he published a volume of poems. Soon after he began to write for the magazines, and for many years wrote largely for Blackwood's, both in poetry and prose. In 1824, he published the Legend of Genevieve, with other Tales and Poems, and soon after his humourous Autobiography of Mansie Waugh, Tailor in Dalkeith, which was, and still is, immensely popular. In 1831, his Outlines of Ancient History appeared. In 1843, his Domestic Verses, which displayed a great advance in the poetic field, the volume being highly extolled by Lord Jeffrey. Dr. Moir, so long known as "Delta," in Blackwood, died suddenly at Dumfries, on the 6th July, 1851, when on a visit to his gifted and excellent friend, Thomas Aird, the poet, author of The Devil's Dream, the most sublime, terrible, and original poem of this century.

We cannot better sum up the chief characteristics of Dr. Moir's muse than by quoting what Lord Jeffrey said of his Domestic Verses, in a letter to the author: "I cannot resist the impulse of thanking you," he says, "with all my heart for the deep gratification you have afforded me, and the soothing, and I hope bettering, emotions which you have excited. I am sure that what you have written is more genuine pathos than anything, almost, I have ever read in verse, and is so tender and true, so sweet and natural, as to make all lower recommendations indifferent."

A Christian gentleman, an excellent physcian, and a true poet, Dr. Moir, was greatly respected in life, and his name and his fame will long be savoury not only in Scotland, but wherever the English language is spoken.