Poems of Purpose and Sketches in Prose of Scottish Peasant
Life and Character. By Janet Hamilton. (Murray, Glasgow; Ritchie, Edin- burgh; Nisbet, London.)—" An old woman of threescore and ten, whose only schoolroom was a shoemaker's hearth, and her only teacher a hard-working mother . . . . who never learnt and never tried to write until she was fifty years of age, when she invented a sort of caligraphy for her own use"—such is the authoress's description of herself, taken from the preface to a book which it seems has preceded this volume. Under these circumstances we can say nothing, and shall only give specimens of the verse and of the prose. Here is a stanza from a "Welcome to Garibaldi" :— " Gnid guide thee by the gins and traps Set by thee wild assassin chaps, Aye, casting bombs among the Naps When ye're in Lannon, free their traps Keep far, guid Garibaldi."
And here is a sentence from the opening chapter of the prose sketches : —" The primitive simplicity of character and manners, and the simple tastes and unaffected piety of our peasant ancestors, these are now becoming, except in some isolated places and families, like dissolving views, fading away in the distance even while we are gazing." If this is the language of an uneducated woman in Scotland, what wonder that the canny men who have been under the schoolmaster rise so fast, and how proud the Liberal party ought to be of the testimony borne by such a country to the soundness of their principles ! After this we scarcely have patience to deal with Familiar Illustrations of Scottish Character, by Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D. (Houlston and Wright), which is simply a collection of anecdotes strung together without order or connection, and unworthy of the purposeful nation.