1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hamilton of Bangour

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 173.



A native of Ayshire, in Scotland, Hamilton of Bangour (1704-1754) was a man of fortune and family. An unauthorized edition of his poems appeared in Glasgow in 748; a genuine edition was published by his friends in 1760; and a still more complete one, edited by James Paterson, appeared in 1850. Hamilton was the delight of the fashionable circles of Scotland. In 1745 he joined the standard of Prince Charles, and, on the downfall of the Jacobite party, fled to France. He was finally pardoned, and his paternal estate restored to him; but he did not long live to enjoy it. A pulmonary attack compelled him to seek a warmer climate, and he died at Lyons in the fiftieth year of his age. The Braes of Yarrow is the best known of Hamilton's poems; indeed, the rest of them are quite worthless. Johnson said of his poems, with some justice, that "they were very well for a gentleman to hand about among his friends;" but Johnson must have overlooked The Braes of Yarrow, or else he was not in a mood to feel its marvellous pathos and beauty. It seems to have suggested three charming poems to Wordsworth — Yarrow Unvisited, Yarrow Visited, and Yarrow Revisited.