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LIFE OF WILLIAM DRUMMOND,
BY MR. CHALMERS.
THIS elegant and ingenious poet, a descendant of the ancient family of the Drummonds of Carnock, and the son of sir John Drummond of Hawthornden, was born, probably at Hawthornden, his father's seat in Scotland, on the thirteenth of December, 1585. He received his school education at Edinburgh, and afterwards studied at the university of that city, where he took the degree of master of arts. At the age of twenty-one he went to France, in compliance with his father's views, and attended lectures on the civil law a subject on which he left sufficient documents to prove that his judgment and proficency were uncommon. The president Lockhart, to whom these manuscripts were communicated, declared, that if Mr. Drummond had followed the practice of the law, "he might have made the best figure of any lawyer in his time."
After a residence abroad of nearly four years, he returned to Scotland in 1610, in which year his father died. Instead, however, of prosecuting the study of the law as was expected, he thought himself sufficiently rich in the possession of his paternal estate, and devoted his time to the perusal of the ancient classics, and the cultivation of his poetical genius. Whether he had composed or communicated any pieces to his friends before this period, is uncertain. It was after a recovery from a dangerous illness that he wrote a prose rhapsody, entitled Cypress Grove, and about the same time his Flowers of Zion, or Spiritual Poems, which with the Cypress Grove were printed at Edinburgh in 1623, 4to. A part of his Sonnets, it is said, were published as early as 1616.
During his residence at Hawthornden, he courted a young lady of the name of Cunningham, with whom he was about to have been united when she was snatched from him by a violent fever. To dissipate his grief, which every object and every thought in this retirement contributed to revive, he travelled on the continent for about eight years, visiting Germany, France and Italy, which at that time comprised all that was interesting in polished society and study to a man of curiosity and taste. During this time he invigorated his memory and imagination, by studying the various models of original poetry, and collected a valuable set of Greek and Latin authors, with some of which he enriched the college library of Edinburgh, and others were reposited at Hawthornden. The books and manuscripts which he gave to Edinburgh were arranged in a catalogue printed in 1627.
and introduced by a Latin preface from his pen, on the advantage and honour of libraries, which at that time were considered rather as accidental collections than necessary institutions.
On his return to Scotland he found the nation distracted by political and religious disputes which combined with the same causes in England to bring on a civil war. But why these should oblige him, immediately on his return, to quit his paternal seat, we know not. The author of his life, prefixed to the folio edition of his works in 1711, merely informs us, that having found his native country in a state of anarchy and confusion, he retired to the seat of his brother-in-law, sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, a man of letters, and probably of congenial sentiments on public affairs. During his stay with this gentleman he wrote his History of the Five James's, Kings of Scotland, a work so inconsistent with liberal notions of civil policy as to have added very little to his reputation, although when first published, a few years after his death, and when political opinions ran in extremes, it was probably not without its admirers.
It is uncertain at what time he was enabled to enjoy his retirement at Hawthornden, but it appears that he was there in his forty-fifth year when he married Elizabeth Logan, (grand-daughter of sir Robert Logan, of the house of Restelrig,) in whom he fancied a resemblance to his first mistress. About two years before this event, he repaired his house, and placed the following inscription on it, Divino munere Gulielmus Drummondus ab Hawthornden, Ioannis Equiti aurati filius, ut honesto otio quiesceret, sibi et successoribus instauravit. 1638.
During the civil war his attachment to the king and church induced him to write many pieces in support of the establishment, which involved him with the revolutionary party, who not only called him to a severe account, but compelled him to furnish his quota of men and arms to fight against the cause which he espoused. It is said that "his estate lying in three different counties, he had not occasion to send one whole man, but halves and quarters and such-like fractions; upon which he wrote extempore the following verses to his majesty ;
Of all these forces raised against the king,
"T is my strange hap not one whole man to bring,
But all in halfs and quarters; great king, then,
In legs and arms, send thou them back to me.
His grief for the murder of his royal master is said to have been so great as to shorten his days. He died on the 4th of December 1649, in the sixty-fourth year of his age, and was interred in his own aisle, in the church of Lesswade, near to his house of Hawthornden. He left two sons and a daughter, William who was knighted in Charles IId's reign; Robert; and Elizabeth, who was married to Dr. Henderson, a physician of Edinburgh.
His character has descended to us without blemish. Unambitious of riches or honours, he appears to have projected the life of a retired scholar, from which he was diverted only by the commotions that robbed his country of its tranquillity. He was highly accomplished in ancient and modern languages, and in the amusements which became a man of his rank. Among his intimate friends, and learned contemporaries, he seems to have