Meston, William

, an ingenious burlesque poet of Scotland, was born in the parish of Midmar in Aberdeenshire, about 1688. He received a liberal education at the Marischal college in Aberdeen, and, after finishing his studies, became one of the teachers in the high-school of New Aberdeen. Thence he removed into the family of Marshal, to be preceptor to the young earl of that name, and his brother, afterwards marshal Keith; and, in 1714, by the interest of the countess, was appointed professor of philosophy in the Marischal college. He did not long retain this situation, for, when the rebellion broke out in 1715, he followed the fortunes of his noble patrons, who made him governor of Dunotter castle. After the defeat at Sheriffmuir, he lurked among the mountains, till the act of indemnity was passed, with a few fugitive companions, | for whose amusement and his own, he composed several of the burlesque poems, which he called “Mother Grim’s tales.” He appears to have remained steady to his principles, and consequently was not restored to his professorship but, while the countess of Marshal lived, resided chiefly in her family where his great pleasantry and liveliness made him always an acceptable guest. After her death, he must have been for some time without much provision, till he commenced an academy at Elgin, in conjunction with his brother Mr. Samuel Meston. He was, however, little formed for prudence and regularity, but much more given to conviviality; for which cause probably, among others, this academy at Elgin after a time began to decline. He then successively settled at Turiff, in Aberdeenshire, and* at Montrose, where he lost his brother and coadjutor. He made the same attempt at Perth, but soon after entered as preceptor into the family of a Mr. Oliphant, Here he continued till his health declined, when he removed to Peterhead for the benefit of the mineral waters. There he was chiefly supported by the bounty of the countess of Errol, under whose patronage he had formerly undertaken the academy at TuriflF. At length he removed to Aberdeen, where he was taken care of by some relations, till he died of a languishing distemper in the spring of 1745.

Meston is said to have been one of the best classical scholars of his time, and by no means a contemptible philosopher and mathematician. His wit also was very lively, and shone particularly in jovial meetings, to which unhappily he was rather too strongly addicted. His poems were first published separately, as they were written, and doubtless by way of assisting him in his necessities. That called “the Knight/* appears to have been first printed in 1723; and, after it had received several corrections, a second edition was printed at London. The first decade of” Mother Grim’s Tales,“afterwards appeared; and next, the second part, by Jodocus, her grandson. Some years after, the piece called,” Mob contra Mob.“The whole were first collected in a small volume, 12 mo, at Edinburgh, in 1767, to which a short account of his life is prefixed, whence the present memoirs have been extracted. The Knight,” and several others of his poems, are in the style of Butler, whom he greatly adinired and imitated, perhaps too servilely, yet with some | success. In the second decade, written under the name of Jodocus, there are several poems in Latin, and the title was in that language. It runs thus: “Decadem alteram, ex probatissimis auctoribus, in usum Juventutis Jinguse Latinse, prsesertim verse poeseos studiosse, selectam, et in scholis ad propagandam fidem legendam: admixtis subinde nonnullis, in gratiam Pulchrioris Sexus, vernaculis, subjunxit Jodocus Grimmus Aniculae nostrae pronepos.” His Latin poetry is of no great excellence. 1

1 Life, as above.