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The New Zealand Minstrelsy : an emigrant poet affirms his vocation

The New Zealand Minstrelsy: an emigrant poet affirms his vocation


The first collection of poetry printed and published in New Zealand, William Golder’s The New Zealand Minstrelsy (1852), demonstrates in a variety of ways the effect of emigration on a specific conception of the career of the poet. This volume is a textual threshold between the potential of a new beginning in a new place and separation from the conditions, historical, cultural and economic, which sustained and informed poetic practice in Scotland in the first half of the 19th century. It establishes parameters within which a poetic vocation can be worked out in the first decades of British settlement of New Zealand.

William Golder (1810–1876) came to New Zealand with his wife and family on one of the first four New Zealand Company ships, the Bengal Merchant, arriving from Scotland early in 1840. He also brought with him his first publication, a collection of poems, songs set to Scottish traditional tunes, and prose tales, entitled Recreations for Solitary Hours, which was published in Edinburgh in 1838. Although several accounts of the voyage were written, none mentions Golder, who was not among the socially significant passengers on the ship. If it were not for the fact that he published four volumes of poetry in New Zealand during the next thirty years, he would have remained unnoticed, leaving only the traces of a person active in the ordinary affairs of his society. What were his qualifications for contributing to the work of founding a national literature for New Zealand, which is inaugurated poetically by The New Zealand Minstrelsy (1852)?1

His subsequent reception in New Zealand makes his poetic aims seem misplaced. He is not included in most nineteenth century selections of Australasian or New Zealand poetry. In the most recent assessment, Harvey McQueen’s anthology, The New Place. The Poetry of Settlement in New Zealand, 1852–1914, which takes its origin date from the publication date of The New Zealand Minstrelsy, he holds pride of place as the first poet but his poetry is described as the work of a “pragmatist” and writer of “conventional appreciations” of New Zealand’s scenery.2 One of Golder’s repeatedly given reasons for publishing his poetry was to try to ensure (against the odds) that the labour of the early settlers in nation-building was not forgotten but truly appreciated by future generations; but he also appears to have anticipated the future reception of his own poetry in the self-deprecating figure of an old library book, worn out, no longer read in “A Likeness,” a poem reprinted from Recreations for Solitary Hours.3

Emigrating from Oral to Print Culture

If Golder could become a poet/minstrel as the result of giving expression to an innate ability, socially he knew himself to be a member of the labouring class.4 Recent studies of poetry written by Golder’s contemporaries in the Scottish Lowlands, and specifically in the Glasgow area, have introduced the terms “local poet” and “artisan poet” to categorise the writers of a distinctive body of poetry which was printed locally, often by subscription, which represented the thinking and culture of labouring and working classes in this period of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, and which drew upon vernacular and popular poetic forms and traditions in the process of articulating a social and political critique.5 The first half of the 19th century provided a unique opportunity for such poets to get into print but, from mid-century, those opportunities diminished: “whereas previously most poets who got into print did so through local journal [sic] and local publishers selling to local readers, there now began to develop a stronger national press and hence a national audience for those who published in it.”6 Brown describes the local poet as “a leisure-time poet . . . Often referred to as the poet of a locality such as ‘Methven poet’ or ‘Paisley bard,’ the local poet is in some ways an unofficial poet-laureate, the group’s artistic voice.”7 These terms mark out polarities which are also fundamental to colonial writing and the formation of nations from colonies, because they infer a model of cultural production and reproduction in which the imperial/metropolitan “centre” determines official, that is, national standards and expectations for aesthetic, linguistic and cultural practice. Just as publishing was able to develop a national market and wider distribution of its products because of increasing literacy, so the written language in print became a national language. As Deibert argues, “By fixing one dialect as the predominant mode of speech, printing helped reduce other local dialects to the status of regional or local patois, thus undermining more parochial identities while at the same time legitimating a common, standardized language within territorial boundaries.”8

Golder acknowledges these developments in the predominance of English as the language of his published poetry, and in his adoption of what are clearly standardised ways of presenting a poem or song on the page. But he is also writing in a new locality in which the link between dialect and region is not firmly established, a locality in which different cultures and dialects mingle and ultimately produce a hybrid version of the standard imperial language as one mark of the difference of the new nation among the various nations of the British empire.9 In so far as his poems are written to be read, they fulfil this standardising function of print; in so far as they are available to be performed, they can circulate in the regionally inflected versions of English spoken by the representatives of the different British nations settling in New Zealand. In these ways, The New Zealand Minstrelsy as a collection fully exemplifies in the variety of its forms and subject matters an aspect of what Anne Janowitz describes as the “on-going interaction between the two modes of poem-making. . . In the romantic period, the exchange between oral and print cultures is energetic: on the one hand, democratising print culture, and on the other, reanimating the resources of oral poetic culture.” One conclusion which she draws from this point is of particular significance for Golder, both in relation to his absence from New Zealand literature and the conception of the work of the poet which informs his writing. One effect of the dialectic is to shape “the history of literary criticism . . . As a result, the presiding spirit of the age has been Wordsworth rather than Burns; the characteristic form has been taken to be the blank verse paragraph rather than the choric song or the ballad; and the stance of identity taken to be solitude rather than solidarity.”10 Conceiving of himself as an artistic voice of a group, British settlers in New Zealand, Golder demonstrates the complex interaction between notions of cultural region and cultural nation which are so significant in the early 19th century in Scotland, and on which are grounded a democratic conception of the local poet as the means by which the nation finds its distinctive voice.11

The emigrant poet fulfils another important function attributed directly to print in a book about New Zealand which so fully expresses Golder’s own views about New Zealand that it can be taken as a prime source for them. In The New Zealanders,12 G. L. Craik argues that emigration threatens the transmission of “civilisation” from a mature society of origin to a new land by removing the emigrant from the protective embrace of laws and institutions which maintain and perpetuate that order of values and body of knowledge, unless those laws and institutions can also be fully transferred. Craik marks out the difference between traditional and British societies in terms of their respective abilities to preserve the gains of civilisation at a distance, the key being “the art of printing.” Just as the stadial theory of history defines a progression from barbarism through various stages of civilisation, so it is possible to regress: “The descent of a race from civilization to barbarism may have been occasioned in a variety of ways. It is difficult to conceive such an event to be within the limits of possibility, since the establishment of the art of printing, and the consequent diffusion of knowledge amongst the mass of the community. But in ancient times, the possessors of any learning were the exceptions to the body of the people.” The only certain means of preventing regression is “the enlightening of the great mass of the community,” a process in which literacy and printing play the crucial roles. It is here that the conception of the poet as one who speaks to and for the “great mass of the community” rather than a society’s cultural elites clearly provides a way of conceiving of emigrant “national poets” as those who rearticulate the fundamental principles of their native society’s “civilisation” in the new land, being a principal means of retaining a vital connection with inherited social and cultural achievement. What prevents this role from being simply conservative, at least in Golder’s case, is his British self-concept, the many parallels between Scotland and New Zealand, and his commitment to a powerfully progressive view of the development of human civilisation.

The Character of a National Poet

Golder’s conception of the poet is not defined by membership in the canon of great poets; nor is his conception of a national literature defined by a list of great works. His observations on the latter point in the Preface to The New Zealand Minstrelsy underline how every aspect of settlers’ physical and social circumstances enforce the transitional nature of settler identity as it is grounded in conceptions of nationality:

this little attempt in the matter of song may tend not only to add to the literature of our Colony, thereby extracting some of the sweets which lie hid among the many asperities of colonial life; but also to endear our adopted country the more to the bosom of the bonâ fide settler; as such, in days of yore, has often induced a people to take hold of their country, by not only inspiring them with a spirit of patriotic magnanimity, but also in making them the more connected as a people in the eyes of others. For instances of which, I need not here refer the intelligent reader to the ancient history of any other nation than the one to which he as an individual may belong.

The process of nation-building which can be extrapolated from this sympathetic address to the settler readers as a group from one of their number clearly parallels the process undertaken by the Scots after the Act of Union, by which Britannia became “their country” in a political and imperial sense at the same time as Scotia/Caledonia was reconstituted as a distinct cultural nation among other associated nations in the British Isles.13 As a colony, New Zealand as “our adopted country” substitutes for but cannot displace the original scene of individual and social formation; settler society is here represented as composed of individuals who still belong to nations which are physically located elsewhere. In a poem to another poet from his hometown, Strathaven, published in his second volume, Pigeon’s Parliament, Golder describes his situation in New Zealand:

Ah! brother bard, in this far southern clime,
Amid primeval forests though I roam,
Or where the mountains rear their heights sublime,
Whose woody grandeur well the scenes become;——
My upmost thoughts are oft afar “at home,”
’Mid pleasing walks, where tender friendships grew;
While flowery lawns and sunny braes, where some
Most joyous hours were spent, would rise in view,
Aye, then I’ve felt it hard my feelings to subdue.14

Building a new nation is a matter of shaping perception, both in the settlers and those for whom “nation” and “country” are complementary, not dissociated, terms; it is the role of the bard. The poet addresses the whole society (through the “general” reader) as one of its number distinguished only by this special vocation; his aims are to give pleasure by identifying the “sweets . . . of colonial life,” especially because they are so outweighed by the difficulties endured by the settlers, and in all other ways to work to encourage the formation of an overriding conviction of a shared affiliation and a devotion to the idea of the new nation which is both its outcome and its goal.

Golder’s conception of the minstrel/bard is historically and culturally contextualised in the complex relations between bard, nation, colony and empire as these are discussed by Katie Trumpener, who distinguishes between nationalist antiquaries, for whom “the bard is the mouthpiece for a whole society” and English poets who “imagine the bard (and the minstrel after him) as an inspired, isolated, and peripatetic figure [who] represents poetry as a dislocated art, standing apart from and transcending its particular time and place.” She affirms that “the late-eighteenth-century bardic revival gives new emphasis to the social rootedness and political function of literature, as to the inseparability of literary performance from specific institutions and audiences. English writers insist, in contrast, on literature’s social and political autonomy.”15 Within these national/literary polarities, Golder’s poetry is emphatically on the side of “social rootedness.” It is also prospective, not retrospective in its relation to those to and for whom it is written, members of a society and nation in formation rather than in collapse and imperial assimilation which is also a product of diverse nationalities. In this respect, Golder does not exemplify the process which Trumpener describes as “collective amnesia,”16 by which settlers from the colonised nations in the British Isles “misplace” their national histories as they repeat them in the dispossession of indigenous peoples; he instead focuses on the interaction of these different inheritances within a shared conception of the new nation of New Zealand. While “English” is clearly the linguistic sign of this shared conception, as it is of Britannia, it does not, in Golder’s poetic practice, require the suppression of his native Scots as a further mark of social rootedness within the nation-to-be.17 At this early point in the development of the modern nation signified by “New Zealand,” a “British” conception of the nation seems possible.18

The one direct reference to other literature in The New Zealand Minstrelsy is to James Beattie’s poem, The Minstrel or, The Progress of Genius (1771–1774),19 which is quoted as the title-page epigraph:

Him who ne’er listened to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne’er appal. (I, ii)

Golder used the same two lines on the title page of Recreations For Solitary Hours, emphasising continuity in his thinking about the situation of the poet. Being a poet in this account has nothing to do with the traditional link between poetic accomplishment and fame, but everything to do with the role of poetry in the enhancement of humanity in every part of a society. Golder is fully conscious of the social and literary measure by which claims to be a poet are traditionally tested against the achievements of past writers, but he advances his own publication under the disclaimer provided by Beattie as poetry which is not seeking to be evaluated by that measure.

What is remarkable about the link affirmed by the epigraph between Beattie’s poem and Golder’s is that it is not restricted to a moral issue about fame and social standing, but that Golder’s life and productivity as a poet is an exact performance of the model elaborated by Beattie and the principles on which it is founded. While a fully detailed demonstration of this claim depends upon taking Golder’s later publications into account, The New Zealand Minstrelsy provides enough evidence to show how formative his reading of The Minstrel was for his conception of what it meant for someone of his social class to be a poet. The poem spoke to all the principal components of Golder’s personal and intellectual circumstances, and modelled a poetic identity grounded in a coherent and purposeful set of relations between self and society, nature and culture, social status and inner qualities of mind and feeling, freedom and authority, human disorder and providential design, personal improvement and social progress, humane learning and scientific progress. It is a set of relations which is also characteristic of the later “popular enlightenment.”20

A Poetic Career

This claim implies, of course, a much wider claim about Beattie’s achievement in The Minstrel.21 The poem defines a model of individual poetic development beginning with an innate capacity for responding with delight and sympathy to nature and humanity and progressing in literary skill as a result of long-term application. The young poet, Edwin, is brought up by loving parents as a shepherd in a remote rural environment; they emphasise simplicity of living, charitable relations with others, and religious belief as the foundations of a true life, in contrast to the unrelenting pursuit of power and wealth which characterises the public world. The morality he is taught by his father is summed up in the injunctions:

To others do (the law is not severe)
What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear,
And friends, and native land; nor those alone;
All human weal and woe learn thou to make thine own.

(I, xxix)

Edwin’s mother introduces him to poetry and music by singing ballads and telling traditional stories. By this means, and through his daily experience of the natural world, he discovers his love for and abilities in poetry and music; it is the purpose of the poem’s second book to tell of his further education by the Hermit, a man who has lived at the court and has rejected its corrupting values. This teaching in history and philosophy builds on the knowledge derived from his parents, entrenches the view that the materialism of society is the source of its degeneracy, and provides powerful arguments for a poetry which encourages the improvement of society by linking under divine governance conceptions of virtuous action and the free nation with science, art and industry.

Clear evidence of the importance of Beattie’s poem to Golder is to be found in “Stanzas, To a Young Poet,” which Golder first published in Recreations for Solitary Hours and reprinted in The New Zealand Minstrelsy. This poem, like The Minstrel, is written in Spenserian stanzas.22 Beattie writes in his preface that “I have endeavoured to imitate Spenser in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition.” He has avoided “antique expressions” except where they are appropriate to the “Gothic” subject of the “Minstrel in days of yore,” and further justifies his choice of “so difficult a measure” because “it pleases my ear, and ... admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and language ... It allows the sententiousness of the couplet, as well as the more complex modulation of blank verse.” In other words, the melodic qualities of song manifested in the repetition of the stanza as the basic unit of narrative composition are combined with the reflective and discursive qualities of the iambic pentameter, governed by a verbal code of practice which emphasises simplicity of diction. “Simplicity” refers both to the moral qualities of the minstrel and in two ways to the medium of expression: the poetry should be immediately intelligible, at least “to a reader of English poetry,” and it should engage the reader with the actual, not the imaginary or the artificial. The qualities of the true minstrel are both given — the “portion of celestial fire” granted by “th’indulgent Muse” (I.vi) — and acquired by learning through “high converse with the godlike few” who “Teach beauty, virtue, truth, and love, and melody” (I.xl). The conception of the minstrel as an itinerant singer of his own compositions, accompanied by the lyre and in harmony with nature (I.iii), emphasises further the oral tradition of performance to a present audience. It also locates the minstrel among the generality of the people rather than among the privileged at the top of the social hierarchy.

“Stanzas, To a Young Poet” affirms Beattie’s conception of the poet as a person achieving self-knowledge in communion with nature and through moral learning, a vocation discovered in youth through the experience of a sympathetic and imaginative identification with nature. Such a discovery is not a function of learning or social position, but the realisation of an innate capability to be a poet which is improved through practice and the acquisition of true knowledge about the natural, social and spiritual worlds. Golder quotes the first two lines of Beattie’s poem as an epigraph:

Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame’s proud temple shines afar!

These lines position Beattie’s poem, as do the lines used on the title page of The New Zealand Minstrelsy, in such a way that the entry into the account of the character of the true minstrel is through consideration of the problem of how worth is measured in society. He places the vocation of poet, like Beattie, in a context of mental growth and maturation, and membership of the “choir” of poets, the conventional pursuit of fame being obstructive to the “progress” of the young poet. Golder’s poem, in other words, is characteristically communitarian in its representation of a shared set of qualities and characteristics. As Janowitz has observed, the “communitarian lyric . . . enacts the problems of poetic vocation, interpreted through the exchange between oral and print cultures, and the entry of plebeian labourer poets into the terrain of polite and then ‘literary’ culture.”23

In both publications, Golder claims that his decision to publish his poetry was motivated by circumstances outside his control. In Recreations For Solitary Hours, it is the decision to emigrate; in The New Zealand Minstrelsy, they are “circumstances unseen, which I could not avert.” In both instances he is clear that to publish is to assume a public character, that of “an Author”; in Recreations For Solitary Hours this means being “urged into the arena of literary competition” and in The New Zealand Minstrelsy, “the arena of the literary circle.” While in both cases the move from “obscurity” to “the platform of public opinion” is a move from a private, recreational activity to a domain of public critique and evaluation, the changed emphasis in the second phrasing could mean that he is conceding that emigration will prevent him having a conventional career as a poet.

If this inference is correct, then the career alternatives open to Golder, to which the inclusion in Recreations For Solitary Hours of poetry and prose narrative, and poems addressed to people of rank, may point, can be inferred from Peter Murphy’s discussion of the opportunities for the self-educated in Scotland during the latter 18th and the early 19th centuries to achieve public repute and income from their literacy. Specifically, his occupational journey from agricultural labour to weaver to primary school teacher is also a social journey powered by literacy which places him in association with the “respectable,” the “discerning,” and the “distinguished,” who subscribe to his book and are his expected readers. The next step, as emigrant to New Zealand, seems to change his relation to his audience. In The New Zealand Minstrelsy there is no dedication to specific distinguished persons, as there is in Recreations For Solitary Hours; instead, the subscription list is published at the back of the volume, and it includes two hundred and twelve people, with Governor Grey and Lieutenant Governor Eyre at the top. Taken together with the opening statement that he is “offering this little work to the Nobility and Inhabitants in general of Port Nicholson, as a tribute to the memory of the early settlers of our Colony,” it is clear that “the public” has become a much more defined group, one still stratified socially but in principle inclusive of the whole local population. As one of these inhabitants, he claims a bardic role in seeking to remind them all about what is significant in their shared history and common in their experience as settlers. “Fame” is not the motivation for writing poetry.

Golder’s situation can be thought of as the reverse of that which Murphy describes for James Hogg, who made a career as a writer and who shares with Golder a similar social origin and educational history as a young man.24 In Wellington, Golder lacks the ability to travel as Hogg does between the established sites of cultural production, the domain of nature and the people, on the one hand (Ettrick), and the metropolitan centre of cultural authority on the other (Edinburgh). For Golder, emigration was a removal in the opposite social and cultural direction, to a wilderness scene more absolute and literal than that in which Beattie’s Hermit lived, on the borders of rural settlement, and the moral obverse of the destructive polity from which the Hermit had retreated. For the Hermit, savagery was the pervasive condition of the civilised polity; for Golder, to go to New Zealand was to travel through time as well as space to the beginning of history and human society in unmodified nature, as understood in the stadial theory of civilisation formulated in the Scottish enlightenment.25 It is not clear whether Beattie would have delineated a metropolitan role for Edwin in his mature phase, because the poem concludes before that point of personal and poetic development is reached, but the overall conception of the minstrel as a local voice able to speak to the whole society through all its localities rather than from the metropolitan centre points to a fundamentally democratic conception of the poet. For Golder, unlike MacPherson, Hogg or Scott,26 there are no local histories or cultural traditions to be recovered or reasserted as the ground for formulating a cultural conception of a modern New Zealand nation. Instead, The New Zealand Minstrelsy is offered as a contribution to a democratic beginning, both as a memorial to the first years of settlement and as a representation of the primary features of ordinary life and work. By employing a linguistic register which declines literary resonance and tradition and affirms both everyday language and a version of written English which is shaped by the codes of referentiality, perspicuity and rationality, Golder establishes the terms of a poetic career which maintains continuities with his Scottish cultural and intellectual origins while marking out the parameters for the formation of a distinctive language and poetic literature in the new nation.27


If Golder had stayed in Scotland, and had continued to write and publish according to the commitments and beliefs he expressed in his first New Zealand publication, it is possible that he might have been represented in a broadly inclusive collection of Scottish poets, The Scottish Minstrel, which was designed to demonstrate the vigour of national song following Burns’ success “in renovating the national minstrelsy.” The editor of the collection defines the role of the poet as national in the double sense of speaking for and to all when he affirms that “Poetry has been the first language of nations. The Lyric Muse has especially chosen the land of the mountain and the flood; and such scenes she has only abandoned when the inhabitants have sacrificed their liberties,” and when he describes Burns as “so [striking] the chord of the Scottish lyre, that its vibrations were felt in every bosom.” The collection includes not only the poems, but also “memoirs of the poets in connection with their compositions, thus making the reader acquainted with the condition of every writer, and with the circumstances in which his minstrelsy was given forth.” This respect for the “poetic gift,” in men and women as well as people of all social positions, is complemented by a desire that access to this body of song should be as widespread as possible; the editor thanks the publisher for his “national spirit” in undertaking “to produce the work at a price which will render it generally accessible.”28 By leaving Scotland, Golder cut himself off from the possibility of a career either as a local poet or a metropolitan writer. What he did instead was to re-position himself as one voice in a democracy of voices learning to speak and write in terms appropriate to a new nation.

Like the Hermit, and like those promoting the “popular enlightenment,” Golder believed in the mutually informing relation of scientific and religious knowledge, and in the advancing of civilisation through the amelioration of all human life and the achievement of the good society by the application of knowledge — scientific, moral and religious — by each individual. His special vocation as a poet, understood in the form defined by Beattie’s Minstrel and practised by Golder in the specific circumstances of colonial settlement, did not lead him to seek membership of a cultural elite but instead to work out an obligation to advance the quality of social life through a diversity of poetic means for addressing his fellow citizens. He addressed the emotional, imaginative, sociable and intellectual needs of settler society by drawing fully on the cultural resources he had acquired, resources that enabled him to live in what he experienced as wilderness while envisaging a new nation with a new literature leading the further advance of human civilisation.

1 The conception of a national literature informing Golder’s poetic work is discussed in my paper, “The New Zealand Minstrelsy (1852). William Golder and the beginnings of a national literature in New Zealand,” Victorian Literature (forthcoming).

2 MacD. P. Jackson, “Poetry. Part One: Beginnings to 1945,” in The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English, Second Edition, edited by Terry Sturm (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1998), 410.

4 The Pigeons’ Parliament; A Poem of the Year 1845. In Four Cantos with Notes. To which is added, Thoughts on the Wairarapa, and Other Stanzas. (Wellington: W. Lyon, 1854), 94. He shares the attributes of “self-improvers” discussed by Anne Baltz Rodrick, “The Importance of being an Earnest Improver: Class, Caste, and Self-Help in Mid-Victorian England,” Victorian Literature and Culture, 29 (1) 2001, 46: “intellectual achievement, moral rectitude, and civic responsibility.”

5 Mary Ellen Brown, “Robert Tannahill as a Local Poet” in The Paisley Poets. A Critical Reappraisal of their work and reputation, edited by Stuart James and Gordon MacCrae (Paisley: University of Paisley Library/Renfrew District Arts and Libraries, 1993), 26–36. See also Radical Renfrew. Poetry from the French Revolution to the First World War by poets born, or sometimes resident in, the County of Renfrewshire, selected, edited and introduced by Tom Leonard (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990).

6 Sandy Hobbs, “A Nest of Singing Birds?” in The Paisley Poets, 83.

7 Brown, “Robert Tannahill” in The Paisley Poets, 27.

8 Ronald H. Deibert, Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia. Communication in World Order Transformation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 107.

9 Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism. The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 1997), 82, argues that “a language is collectively produced and collectively used, the most important shared property of a national community.”

10 Anne Janowitz, Lyric and Labour in the Romantic Tradition, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 12, 17.

11 Thomas Crawford, “James Hogg: The Play of Region and Nation,” and William Findlay, “Reclaiming Local Literature; William Thom and Janet Hamilton,” in The History of Scottish Literature, Vol. 3. Nineteenth Century, edited by Douglas Gifford (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1988).

12 [G. L. Craik], The Library of Entertaining Knowledge. The New Zealanders (London: Charles Knight, 1830). The main themes of Craik’s account are repeated in A Statement of the Objects of the New Zealand Association, with some particulars concerning the position, extent, soil and climate, natural productions, and Natives of New Zealand (London, 1837).

13 Michael Fry, The Scottish Empire (Edinburgh: Tuckwell Press, 2001), 54–55.

14 “To Mr. James Nicholson, Strathaven, Scotland, Author of ‘Weeds and Wild Flowers,’” in The Pigeons’ Parliament, 108.

15 Bardic Nationalism, 6.

16 Bardic Nationalism, 253.

17 Trumpener writes that, “To the degree that England becomes the centre of the empire, its own internal sense of culture accordingly fails to develop. And to the degree that the English language, coercively imposed on the British peripheries, comes to serve as the means of imperial absorption, it becomes an increasingly minimal basis for identifying Englishness. The peripheries, in comparison, struggle with the contradictions of underdevelopment, yet they each retain their distinct, national, and non-English character. Their very ways of speaking English remain highly distinctive, marked by a particular cultural and political history” (Bardic Nationalism, 15–16).

18 Robert Crawford, Devolving English Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), discusses the synthesis of Scottish and English literary traditions in the vernacular revival of the eighteenth century, and the importance of Burns in the development of British literature (104–110), affirming that “if we say that Burns is a British poet, in the sense that he fully utilized the spectrum of British language, then it is clear that he did this precisely because he was a Scottish writer. His deployment of a mixture of Scots and English . . . represents a mingling of the low, dominated Scots language with the high, dominant language of ‘proper English’” (106).

19 The Poetical Works of James Beattie (London: Bell and Daldy, n.d.), 3–61.

20 On the popular enightenment, see J. V. Smith, “Reason, revelation and reform,” History of Education, v.12, no.4 (1983): 255–70, and “Manners, Morals and Mentalities: Reflections on the Popular Enlightenment of Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland,” in Scottish Culture and Scottish Education, 1800–1900, edited by Walter M. Humes and Hamish M. Paterson (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd., 1983). Rev. Thomas Dick is put forward as an exemplar of the positive valuation of knowledge in Alan Rauch’s study of the early nineteenth century, Useful Knowledge. The Victorians, Morality, and the March of Intellect (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001), 2–3. The links between local printing, the expansion of the reading public, and popular enlightenment in Scotland are discussed by Alexander Murdoch and Richard B. Sher, “Literary and Learned Culture,” in People and Society in Scotland, I: 1760–1830, edited by T. M. Devine and Rosalind Mitchison (John Donald Publishers Ltd in association with The Economic and Social History Society of Scotland: Edinburgh, 1988), 136–138.

21 On the significance of The Minstrel for the Romantic poets, see Everard H King, James Beattie (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977) and James Beattie’s ‘The Minstrel’ and the Origins of Romantic Autobiography (Lewiston; Lampeter; Queenston: Edwin Mellor Press, 1992); and Roger Robinson, “The Origins and Composition of Beattie’s Minstrel,” Romanticism, v.4, no. 2 (1998), 224–240.

22 Peter Murphy, Poetry as an Occupation and an Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 54, makes a similar point about Burns: “In his sweet, careful performance of pastoral convention [in ‘The Cottar’s Saturday Night’], Burns shows himself to be a poet, an enthusiastic newcomer in the reading and writing world, where poetry is not only a technical accomplishment (the ability to write in Spenserian stanzas, for instance, taken from Shenstone), but also a demonstration of conventions learned, of culture absorbed and appreciated.”

23 Peter Murphy, Poetry as an Occupation and an Art, 14.

24 Murphy, 95–6, 102.

25 Christopher J. Berry, Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 113–115.

26 The importance of Scottish landscape and history in the Scottish literary and nationalist revival of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is discussed extensively by both Murphy, Poetry as an Occupation and an Art, and Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism.

27 It also brought him from the west of Scotland into close proximity to Edinburgh, at Newton where his school was located. Murphy writes in Poetry as an Occupation and an Art that “In Burns’ Scotland, the circle of refinement was a very nearly perceptible item; it corresponded to the confines of Edinburgh” (55).

28 Rev. Charles Rogers, The Scottish Minstrel. The Songs of Scotland subsequent to Burns with Memoirs of the Poets, 2nd edition (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1873), v, iii, v, vii.