« AnteriorContinuar »
The Gun is a small silver tube, like the barrel of a pistol, but derives great importance from its being the gift of James VI. that monarch having ordained it as a prize to the best marksman among the Corporations of Dumfries.
The contest was, by royal authority, licensed to take place every year ; but, in consequence of the trouble and expence attending it, the custoin has not been so frequently observed. Whenever the festival is appointed, the birth-day of the reigning sovereign is invariably chosen for that purpose.
The institution itself may be regarded as a memorial of the Waponshaw-the shooting at butts and bowmarks, and other military sports, introduced by our ancestors, to keep alive the martial ardour and heroic spirit of the people.
It was on one of the contests for this royal prize, pamely, that of the 4th of June, 1777, that the first Verses entitled The Siller Gun were coin posed. They were afterwards published by Mr. Ruddiman, in The Edinburgh Weekly Magazine, and thence copied and printed in various forins by different persons.
These Verses, in some respect, constitute the groundwork of the present Poem ; but the additions and altera. tions are so numerous, that scarcely an original stanza now remains.
To enable our readers to form any idea of the subject of this poem, they must first be told what the Siller Gun is. The Siller Gun (it seems) is about ten inches long ; has silver marks stamped on it; and, according to what old people say they heard from their progenitors, was originally mounted on a carriage, with wheels, all of silver; but of these no vestige remains. Near the touchhole, the letters l•M are engraved on the barrel, supposed to be the initials of the Provost of Duinfries at the time when this ceremony was first instituted. This, however, is mere conjecture : such records of the Corporations as
were prior to the reign of Charles II. have suffered so much by decay, that they are no longer legible; and, after that period, the only mention in them of the SILLER GUN is an occasional memorandum of its have ing been shot for "
agreeable to the institution,” The Burgh of Kirkcudbright is also in possession of a Silver tube, or Gun; which, like that of Dumfries, is said to have been given to the Corporations by King James VI. It is about seven inches long; marked T*M.C* 1597. These letters are supposed to be the initials of Sir Thomas M'Clellan, Laird of Bombie, Provost of Kirkcudbright* iu 1587, and ancestor of the Lords of that name. This
gun is lodged with the Town Clerk of Kirkcudbright, and has only been shot for twice in the menory of any person living. The last time was in the summer of 1781, when the Corporations applied by petition to have the gun delivered to them, that they might shoot for it at a target. Their petition was granted; but no similar application has been made since 1781.
The Corporations of Dumfries, however, seem to possess privileges which are unknown to their brethren at Kirkcudbright. The Silver Gun of Dumfries is at all times deposited among the archives of the Corporations. They have, moreover, , royal licence or injunction, to assemble in military array, and shoot for it once a-year. Till lately, every Deacon-Convener was allowed, if he pleased, to call out the trades for this purpose once dure ing his administration, which generally lasts for two years; but a regulation has been made among the trades themselves, that this ceremony shall not take place of · tener than once in five years.
When a day is fixed, and a mandate issued for this purpose, all the Freemen of the Corporation are obliged to appear at the time and place appointed by the Convener. If any individual refuse to appear, he is subjected to a fine of 31. 6s. 8d. sterling; and, till payment thereof, interdicted from voting in any of the affairs of the corporations.
Along with the royal license to assemblein military array, the corporations are privileged to shoot for the SILVER Gun at the King-holm, which is part of the common land belonging to the town, and laved by the dimpled waters of the Nith. The fields at the Craigs, however, as often as permission can be obtained, (for they are private property,) are always preferred, being better adapted for the purpose.
The author of this Poem, which is in the Scottish dialect, pleasingly describes the custom of shooting for this Siller Gun, and enters with appropriate feeling into the manners and amusements which distinguish the Scottish character in the walks of humble life. In the first canto is described the bustle which prevails among VOL. IV.
the inhabitants and peasantry in the neighbourhood before the arrival of this celebrated festival.
“ For weeks before this fête sae clever,
At marks practizing
And turning coats, and mending breeks,
Is black or blue ;)
The stockings too."
The muster also, and review, are described with much humour :
“ And ne'er, for uniform or air,
Side coats, and dockit :
Round hats, and cockit !
As to their guns--thae fell engines,
Or shooting cushies-
And blunder-busses !
Maist feck, tho' oild to make them glimmer,
Instead o' Alints.
Some guns, she threeps, within her ken,
Held on their locks!”
After the review, the different squads march to the Craigs, the scene of action, followed by the acclamations of the multitude, while
« As thro' the town their banners fly,
Were leaning o'er;
Were a’ uproar ! These short extracts will shew something of the style and spirit of the poem,
Plot and Counterplot ; or, The Portrait of Michael
Cervantes ; a Farce, in two acts. By Charles Kemble. As performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. 8vo. 1s. 6d. Appleyards. 1808.
We have already spoken of this farce. It is a bustling, lively entertainment, founded on a very novel incident, and, aided by the rich humour of the actors of Fabio and Pedrillo, irresistibly ludicrous in representation, The dialogue is neatly written; but it is somewhat disjugenuous in Mr. C. Kemble not to have acknowledged the source from whence he derived his Plot and Counterplot. They are evidently of foreign invention, and in justice to the original author, as well as in common fairness to the public, he should not have made it appear that the whole merit of this popular and ingenious production is imputable to himself. The Blind Boy : a Melo-drama," in two acts. As performed at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. 8vo. 2s. Longman & Co. 1808.
The Blind-boy has, likewise, a French parent, but as no writer in this country, publicly claims the offspring as his own, we have no body to accuse of child-stealing. The truth is, there is a miserabie lack of invention in the English dramatists, and there is no concealing the fact, that every thing for the last ten years that is novel in idea, artful in plot, powerful in interest, striking in situation, grand in spectacle, and captivating in general effect, has been supplied or suggested by the French and German theatres. The merits of this little drama are sufficiently known. Its construction is very ingenious: the interest which commences with the piece, increases with every scene, and all the incidents conduce to the general developement.
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE.
(FORMELY MISS BRUNTON.) This lady, who died at Alexandria in America on the 5th of July, was born in Drury Lane, Westminster, May 30, 1769, and was the eldest daughter of Mr. John Brunton. She had seen very few plays, and but a short time before her apperance in her first character, had not the least idea of ever treading upon the stage. In February, 1785, however she made her first appearnce in the character of Euphrasia, (Grecian daughter) which was then performed at Bath for the benefit of her father. Previous to the play, the following address, written by Mr. Meyler, was spoken by her father.
Sweet hope ! for whom his anxious parent burns,
Now the food father thinks his boy of age,
And now what fears! what doubts, what joys I feel !
Some sparks of genius-if I right presage,
If your applause give sanction to my aim,