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JOHN FORBES, ESQ.,
COUSINS OF THE POET,
TUIS EDITION OF HIS POEMS
IS DEDICATED WITH RESPECT
In presenting a new edition of the Poems of Fergusson, the Editor may be allowed to state in what respects it may be considered superior to any that has preceded it.
(1) In preparing the Life of the author he has left no source unexplored : and any reader at all acquainted with preceding biographies will at once perceive that his success has not been small. Let it be remembered that half a century ago, Dr. Irving (assisted by Dr. Anderson), “ with all his endeavours” was only able to procure the very meagre details which compose his Life of the Poet. The present Memoir is enriched with various interesting Letters and other (hitherto unpublished MSS.
(2) The Poems are now for the first time fully collected and chronologically arranged. The text, which has been grievously corrupted in all existing editions, is formed from the author's own volume of 1772-3, so far as it extends, with various readings from the different poems as they were originally published in the “ Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement.”
The volume of 1772-3, however, only contained nine Scottish poems. For the other and more numerous pieces, while he adheres strictly to the text of the Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement,' the Editor has, by a careful collation, supplied many interesting
various readings from the early editions [1779 and 1782]. It might appear invidious to point out the errors in matter and variations in orthography, which appear in even the more ambitious reprints of the Poems. The Editor requests those who are interested in such matters, to compare the present with the text of Morison and Son, Perth, 1789; of Chapman and Lang, Glasgow, 1801 ; of Deas, Edinburgh, 1805; of Peterkin, London, 1807; of the Rev. James Gray, Edinburgh, 1821,—the only editions at all pretending to accuracy.
(3) The Notes and other peculiar features may be allowed to recommend themselves. It is hoped that the Portrait and other Illustrations will prove acceptable.
It only remains with the Editor to return to many kind friends his very grateful thanks and acknowledgments for the interest which they have manifested in his “labour of love:” and he proceeds to specify names, not ostentatiously as may at first appear, but in certitude of every little particular in the Life and Notes. To John Forbes, Esq., of Old Meldrum, and James Inverarity, Esq., London, cousins of the poet, he is indebted for all the family papers, mentioned and cited, in whole or in part, in the Life. He entertains a high sense of the confidence and courtesy of these worthy representatives of Fergusson.
To his late venerated friend, Miss Ruddiman, only daughter of Mr. Walter Ruddiman, the senior publisher of the Magazine, in which nearly all the poems of this volume originally appeared, he owes the sincerest gratitude: and equally so to the present Misses Ruddiman of this city. To those ladies he is indebted for the various Ruddiman MSS. with which the Memoir is enriched. He
need only particularly specify the three MS. Sketches of the Life of Fergusson by Mr. Thomas Ruddiman. Miss Ruddiman died on the 13th of April, 1849, when she had nearly completed her ninetieth year.
To Leonard Schmitz, Esq., the present accomplished Rector of the High School of Edinburgh, the Editor is obliged for interesting memorabilia concerning the poet's attendance at that academy. To Christopher Kerr, Esq., Writer, Dundee, in like manner, he returns his best thanks for the invaluable documents concerning Fergusson's attendance at the Grammar School of Dundee and St. Andrews University.
To J. A. Campbell, Esq., Sheriff Clerk, and Hutton Wilson, Esq., Deputy Clerk, he is indebted for researches into the Records of the Sheriff and Commissary Clerks' Offices, for the period during which Fergusson was employed in those situations: and to James Wilson, Esq., and Alexander Goodsir, Esq., of the British Linen Co., for similar researches in respect of Fergusson, senior.
The Life and Notes will show how much the Editor is obligated to the venerable Principal Lee of the University of Edinburgh, and to one who is not more able than willing to assist, David Laing, Esq., Keeper of the Writers to the Signet Library.
His best acknowledgments are likewise due to Captain James Hay of North Belton; to James Fergusson, Esq., of Balledmund; to James Samuel, Esq., of Broomhouse; to Mr. John Robertson of Moulin; to Peter Cunningham, Esq., of Somerset House; to Joseph Robertson, Esq., of the Courant, Edinburgh; to Charles Mackay, Esq., LL.D. late of Glasgow, now of London; to W. F. Mayne, Esq., and S. C. Hall, Esq., of the same city; to Robert Cham