1719
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richy and Sandy, a Pastoral on the Death of Mr. Joseph Addison.

Richy and Sandy, a Pastoral on the Death of Mr. Joseph Addison. By Allan Ramsay.

Allan Ramsay


A Scots pastoral elegy for Joseph Addison in which the interlocutors are Richard Steele ("Richy") and Alexander Pope ("Sandy"). They praise Addison's various literary accomplishments, among them The Campaign (1705): "While on Burn Banks the yellow Gowan grows, | Or wand'ring Lambs rin bleeting after Ews, | His Fame shall last, last shall his Sang of Weirs, | While British Bairns brag of their bauld Forbears." Allan Ramsay, originally a wig-maker, was in 1719 an Edinburgh bookseller. A sentimental Jacobite, Ramsay was, like Alexander Pope, politically ambidextrous; thus he mourns the death of Joseph Addison, one of England's most prominent Whigs. The significant point is that he would do so in Scots verse: Richy and Sandy is said to be the first modern, non-burlesque poem composed in that dialect. The elegy is deliberately "Whig" and "Tory," "Scottish" and "British."

Universal Spectator: "The Scotch Poet Ramsay, has very happily introduced the broader Dialect of his Country, into his Poems; and his Pastoral on the Death of Mr. Addison, must be allow'd to be a very excellent Performance. But I cannot, however, think him a sufficient Precedent, for our Poets reviving, in their Writings of this Kind, the antiquated Phrases of Chaucer, and of Spencer; since tho' this old Language be still perfectly understood in Scotland, yet it is grown down-right Obsolete here, and therefore whenever it is used, it ought to be very sparingly; and perhaps of this, Mr. Gay's Shepherd's Week, is the best Example extent" No. CVIII (31 October 1730).

John Campbell: "We live in the midst of this Island without knowing any Thing of what passes any where, except in the Shires about us; if we now and then pick up a Pastoral of five Centuries old, or in the Dialect of the West or North of England, it passes for a great Curiosity, and more admire than read it. Had it not been for Mr. Burchet, Allan Ramsay's Poem on the Death of Mr. Addison, had never reached the Knowledge of us who lost him, and yet one may safely say, that it is the Poem which does most Honour to his Memory" The Rational Amusement (1741) 258.

George Chalmers: "The reading of Ramsay was soon extended to the poetry of very different masters; of Dryden and Addison, of Prior and Pope. When the noblest version of the Iliad appeared, in 1718, Ramsay read it over thrice; and thereupon addressed an ode to ope, which was, no doubt, welcome to a mind that was not insensible to flattery.... It is easy to trace, in the poetry of Ramsay, how much he improved his original powers by such poetical studies; we may see, in some of his English pieces, after 'he had three times read the Iliad o'er,' a facility of versification, and a flow of numbers, which Ramsay owed to the school of Pope" Poems of Allan Ramsay (1800; 1877) 1:xiv-xv n.

Edmund Gosse: "The long life of Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), the Edinburgh wig-maker, projects beyond that of Pope at both ends. He gave up the outside of the head for the inside by becoming a bookseller and a publisher; from his shop at the sign of the Mercury he regarded the wits of distant London with almost superstitious reverence. He wrote a great deal of absolute rubbish, but his pastoral drama of The Gentle Shepherd (1725) is the best British specimen of its class, and contains some very beautiful passages both of dialogue and of description. Most of Ramsay's original songs were poor, but preserved the habit of writing in the Doric dialect, and as an editor and collector of national poetry he did thoroughly efficient and valuable work. His two miscellanies, The Tea-Table and The Evergreen, were not without their direct usefulness in preparing the Scottish ear for Burns" History of Eighteenth-Century Literature (1889) 139.

T. F. Henderson: "Though keenly intent on his business, Ramsay found time for both conviviality and study. From an early period he developed a strong love of poetry, and besides perusing the older English classics, including Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Cowley, an Dryden, he was well read in the verse of the day from Pope down to his friend Tom D'Urfey, with the latter of whom he had much in common. In the clubs and taverns he also got to know many of the old racy vernacular ditties; but few of the older vernacular classics, with the exception of the works of Sir David Lyndsay, being in circulation, he had already himself acquired some fame as a verse-writer before he accidentally got access to them in the Bannatyne MS. A Jacobite in politics, and of genial and epicurean habit, he represents the commencement of the literary reaction among the middle and lower classes against the repressive tendencies of the Kirk" Vernacular Scottish Literature (1900) 401.

Oliver Elton: "Allan Ramsay himself (1686-1758) had done nearly all his work before 1730. He is a most uneven writer; but he had ministered to British poetry just when succour was most wanted. What he wrote in mere English, encouraged by Pope and other English friends, may be neglected. But his pictures of raw life in Edinburgh — sometimes in the guise of mock-mourning, like the Elegy on Lucky Wood — are admirable; they show the Scot unbuttoned; and we know how Burns adopted the pattern, which is like nothing in English" Survey of English Literature 1730-1780 (1928) 2:2.

In 1744 Ramsay's poem was imitated in an elegy for Alexander Pope appearing in the Gentleman's Magazine: A Pastoral on the Death of Alexander Pope, Esq; in imitation of Allan Ramsay.



RICHY.
What gars thee look sae dowf, dear Sandy, say,
Chear up dull Fallow, take thy Reed and play,
My Apron Deary, — or some wanton Tune,
Be merry Lad, and keep thy Heart aboon.

SANDY.
Na, Na! It winna do! Leave me to mane,
This aught Days twice o'er tell'd I'll whistle nane.

RICHY.
Wow Man, that's unco' sad, — is that ye'r Jo
Has ta'en the Strunt? — Or has some Bogle-bo
Glowrin frae 'mang auld Waws gi'en ye a Fleg?
Or has some dawted Wedder broke his Leg?

SANDY.
Naithing like that, sic Troubles eith were born!
What's Bogles, — Wedders, — or what's Mausy's Scorn;
Our loss is meikle mair, and past Remeed,
EDIE that play'd and sang sae sweet is dead.

RICHY.
Dead say'st thou, Oh! Had up my Heart O Pan!
Ye Gods! What Laids ye lay on feckless Man,
Alake therefore, I canna wyt ye'r Wae,
I'll bear ye Company for Year and Day.
A better Lad ne'er lean'd out o'er a Kent,
Or hound a Coly o'er the mossy Bent;
Blyth at the Bought how aft ha' we three been,
Hartsome on Hills, and gay upon the Green.

SANDY.
That's true indeed! But now thae Days are gane,
And with him a' that's pleasant on the Plain.
A Summer Day I never thought it lang
To hear him make a Roundel or a Sang.
How sweet he sung where Vines and Myrtles grow,
Of wimpling Waters which in Latium flow.
Titry the Mantuan Herd wha lang sinsyne
Best sung on aeten Reed the Lover's Pine,
Had he been to the fore now in our Days,
Wi' EDIE he had frankly dealt his Bays:
As lang's the Warld shall Amaryllis ken,
His Rosamond shall eccho thro' the Glen;
While on Burn Banks the yellow Gowan grows,
Or wand'ring Lambs rin bleeting after Ews,
His Fame shall last, last shall his Sang of Weirs,
While British Bairns brag of their bauld Forbears.
We'll mickle miss his blyth and witty Jest
At Spaining Time, or at our Lambmass Feast.
O Richy, but 'tis hard that Death ay reaves
Away the best Fouck, and the ill anes leaves.
Hing down ye'r Heads ye Hills, greet out ye'r Springs,
Upon ye'r Edge na mair the Shepherd sings.

RICHY.
Than he had ay a good Advice to gi'e,
And kend my Thoughts amaist as well as me;
Had I been thowless, vext, or oughtlins sow'r,
He wad have made me blyth in haff an Hour.
Had Rosie ta'en the Dorts, — or had the Tod
Worry'd my Lamb, — or were my Feet ill shod,
Kindly he'd laugh when sae he saw me dwine,
And tauk of Happiness like a Divine.
Of ilka Thing he had an unco' Skill,
He kend be Moon Light how Tides ebb and fill.
He kend, What kend he no? E'en to a Hair
He'd tell O'er-night gin neist Day wad be fair.
Blind John, ye mind, wha sang in kittle Phrase,
How the ill Sp'rit did the first Mischief raise;
Mony a Time beneath the auld Birk-tree,
What's bonny in that Sang he loot me see.
The Lasses aft flang down their Rakes and Pales,
And held their Tongues, O strange! to hear his Tales.

SANDY.
Sound be his Sleep, and saft his Wak'ning be,
He's in a better Case than thee or me;
He was o'er good for us, the Gods hae ta'en
Their ain but back, — he was a borrow'd-len.
Let us be good, gin Virtue be our Drift,
Then may we yet forgether 'boon the Lift.
But see the Sheep are wysing to the Cleugh;
Thomas has loos'd his Ousen frae the Pleugh;
Maggy by this has beuk the Supper Scones,
And nuckle Ky stand rowting on the Lones:
Come Richy let us truse and hame o'er bend,
And make the best of what we canna mend.

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