Fergusson, Robert

Fergusson, Robert, a Scottish poet, born in Edinburgh; after a university course at St. Andrews he obtained a post in the office of the commissionary-clerk of Edinburgh; his first poems appeared in Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine, and brought him a popularity which proved his ruin; some years of unrestrained dissipation ended in religious melancholia, which finally settled down into an incurable insanity; his poems, collected in 1773, have abundant energy, wit, and fluency, but lack the passion and tenderness of those of Burns; he was, however, held in high honour by Burns, who regarded him as “his elder brother in the Muses.” “In his death,” says Mr. Henley, “at four-and-twenty, a great loss was inflicted to Scottish literature; he had intelligence and an eye, a right touch of humour, the gifts of invention and observation and style, together with a true feeling for country and city alike ... Burns, who learned much from him, was an enthusiast in his regard for him, bared his head and shed tears over 'the green mound and the scattered gowans,' under which he found his exemplar lying in Canongate Churchyard, and got leave from the managers to put up a headstone at his own cost there” (1750-1774). See Mr. Henley's “Life of Burns” in the Centenary Burns, published by the Messrs. T. C. and E. C. Jack.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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