1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

Anonymous, "Monument to Fergusson the Poet" Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction 7 (11 February 1826) 89.



The spot which contained the ashes of poor Robert Fergusson, the Scottish poet, who died young in life, but rich in fame, remained for a long time without any monument to mark it out to the eye of the inquiring stranger; and it was reserved to the kindred spirit of Burns to repair this national neglect, which was a disgrace to the land that gave him birth.

Fergusson was buried in the cemetery attached to the Canongate Church, Edinburgh; and, says Dr. Currie, in his life of Burns, "In relating the incidents of our poet's life in Edinburgh, we ought to have mentiond the sentiments of respect and sympathy with which he traced out the grave of his predecessor Fergusson, over whose ashes he obtained leave to erect a humble monument, which will be viewed by reflecing minds with no common interest, and which will awake in the bosom of kindred genius many a high emotion."

The monument to Fergusson consists of a simple stone, placed perpendicularly. On one side of it is inscribed — "By special grant of the managers to Robert Burns, who erected this stone, this burial-place is to remain for ever sacred to the memory of Robert Fergusson;" on the other side is the following inscription and epitaph, written by Burns himself:—

Here lies Robert Fergusson, poet. Born Sept. 5, 1751; died Oct. 16, 1774.

No sculptured marble here, nor pompous lay,
No story'd urn nor animated bust!
This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way
To pour her sorrows o'er he poet's dust.

Over the monument of Fergusson has been placed a tribute to Burns himself, with this inscription:—

To the memory of Robert Burns, the Ayrshire bard.

O Robbie Burns! the man, the brither!—
And art thou gone, and gone for ever?
And hast thou cross'd that unknown river,
Life's dreary bound?
Like thee, where shall we find anither,
The world around?

Go to your sculptur'd tombs, ye great,
In a' the tinsel trash of state!
But by the honest turf I'll wait,
Thou man of worth!
And weep the sweetest poet's fate
E'er lived on earth.