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EDINBURGH LITERARY MISCELLANY,
FOR JANUARY 1809.
& brief biographical Account of NEIL Neil for some time declined the conGow.
test, believing himself to be no matck
for such masters in the art. WE announced, in one of our late however, he was prevailed on, to enter
, Gow; who was unquestionably the who was blind, being made the um most remarkable man in the line of pire, the prize was adjudged to Neil his profession that has appeared in Gow, by a sentence, in the justice of Scotland.
which the other competitors cheerful* In giving a few notices respecting ly acquiesced. On this occasión, in a character so justly celebrated in his giving his decision, the judge said, particular sphere of life, it is natural that he could distinguish the stroke to begin with mentioning the profes- of Neil's Bow among a hundredi sional merits of this extraordinary players, person. His taste for music was ear Having now attained the summit lý decided. At the age of nine be of his profession at home, the distin. began to play, and was, it is said, self- guished patronage, first of the Athole. taught, till about his thirteenth year, family, and afterwards of the Duchess when he received some instruction of Gordon, soon introduced him to from John Cameron, an attendant of the universal notice and admiration of Sir George Stewart of Grandtully. the fashionable world. From this peThe following anecdote of a competi- riod Gow's excellence was doubtless tion, which happened a few years af- unrivalled in his departinent of ous ter this, deserves to be related, not national music ; and formed, in truthu only as a proof of natural genius as an æra in the progress of its insuming its station at an early period, provement which has since been com but on account of the circumstance pleted by his sons. The livelier airs ? with which it concludes, and which which belong to the class of what are was perhaps the first acknowledg. called the Strathspey and Reel, and ment of that poculiar professional abi- which have long been peculiar to the lity to which he afterwards owed his northern part of the island, assumed, fame. A trial of skill having been in his hand, a style of spirit, fire, and proposed, amongst a few of the best beauty, which had never been heareas performers in the country, young before. It is curious and interesting
to enquire, on the principles of art, in for instance, his “ Lamentation for what consisted the peculiar character Abercairney,” and “ Loch-Errochof a performance which had thus char- ' side," are striking specimens of his gemed and enlivened the scenes of gaie- nius, feeling, and power of embellishty and innocent pleasure, with equal ment. These were set and prepared effect, in every
of life. for publication, by his son Nathaniel; There is perhaps no species whate- whose respectable character and prover of music executed on the violin, priety of conduct have long secured in which the characteristic expression him the esteem and favour of the pubdepends more on the power of the lic, and whose knowledge of composibow, particularly in what is called the tion, and variety of talent in the art, upward or returning stroke, than the joined with the greatest refinement of Highland reel. Here accordingly was taste, elegance of expression, and powGow's forte. His bow-hand, as a er of execution, render him (beyond suitable insirument of his genius, was all dispute,) the most accomplished uncommonly powerful ; and when the aud successful performer of Scottish note produced by the up-bow was of- music in general, ever produced by this ten feeble and indistinct in other country. hands, it was struck, in his playing, In private life, Neil Gow was dis, with a strength and certainty, which tinguished by a sound and vigorous never failed to surprize and delight understanding, by a singularly acute the skilful hearer. As an example, penetration into the character of those, may be mentioned his manner of both in the higher and lower spheres of striking the tenor C, in “ . Athole Society, with whom he had intercourse; House." To this extraordinary and by the conciliating and appropower of the bow, in the hand of priate accommodation of his remarks great original genius, must be ascrib- and replies, to the peculiarities of their ed the singular felicity of expression station and temper. In these he ofwhich he gave to all his music, and ten shewed a high degree of forcible the native Highland goût of certain humour, strong sense and knowledge tunes, such as “ Tulloch Gorum,” of the world, and proved himself to in which his taste and style of bowing have at once a mind naturally sagacicould never be exactly reached by ous, and a very attentive and discriany other“ performer. We may add minating habit of observation. But his the effect of the sudden shout, with most honourable praise is to be drawn which he frequently accompanied his from a view of his character, which was playing in the quick tunes, and which not so obvious to the public. His moseemed instantly to electrify the dan- ral and religious principles were origincers; inspiring them with new life ally correct, rational, and heartfelt, and and
energy, and rousing the spirits of they were never corrupted. His duthe most inanimate. Thus it has been ty in the domestic relations of life, he well observed, “ the violin, in his uniformly fulfilled with exemplary fihands, sounded like the harp of Os- delity, generosity, and kindness. In sian, or the lyre of Orpheus ; and short, by the general integrity, prugave reality to the poetic fictions dence, and propriety of his conduct, he which describe the astonishing effects deserved, and he lived and died posof their performance.”
sessing, as large a portion of respect The different publications which from his equals, and of good will from have appeared under the name of Neil "his superiors, as has ever fallen to the Gow, and which contain not only his lot of any man of his rank. sets of the older tunes, but various oc Though he had raised himself to 'oasional airs of his own composition, independent and affluent circumstan
é sin his old age, he continued free mentioned, he left another, John, who of every appearance of vanity or os- has long resided in London, and is altentation. He retained to the last, the so distinguished and admired, as inhesame plain and unassuming simplicity riting much of his father's musical in his carriage, his dress, and his man taste and power of execution. Two ners, rhich he had observed in his other sons, of equally eminent musical early and more obscure years. His talents, William and Andrew, died Egure was vigorous and manly; and before their father, a few years ago ; the expression of his countenance spi- but not till after they had completely rited and intelligent. His whole ap- established their reputation as true pearance, indeed, exhibited so charac- descendants of Old Neil. On the teristic a model of what national par- whole, a family of such celebrity in tiality conceives a Scottish highlander our national music, as that of the to be, that his portrait has been re- Gows, Scotland is not likely soon to peatedly copied. An admirable like- witness again; and we trust, that those ness of him was painted a few years of them, who yet remain, may long ago, for the Hon. Mr Maule of Pan be preserved to us. mure, M. P. for Forfarshire, by Mr Raeburn: and he has been introduced into the View of a Highland Wedding, Proceedings of the Wernerian Natural by the late ingenious Mr Allan, to
History Society. whom he was requested to sit for the purpose.
the meeting of this Society on In this picture, too, Mr Allan has Saturday the 14th January, Dr preserved an admirable likeness of T. Thomson read an interesting desDonald Gow, the brother of Neil, cription and analysis of a particular his steady and constant violoncello; variety of Copper-glance from North and without whose able and powerful America. accompaniment Neil could scarcely, At the same meeting, Dr J. Barcin his latter days at least, be prevailed lay communicated some highly cuon to play a note.
rious observations which he had made Such was the person to whose me on the caudal vertebræ of the Great story this brief biographical tribute has Sea Snake, which exhibit in their been thought due. It is paid, unsoli- structure some beautiful provisions of cited, by one who had full and fre. Nature, not hitherto observed in the quent opportunity to judge of his cha- vertebræ of any other animal. racter. He had often listened to Neil And Mr P. Neill read a copious Gow, while delighting the gay by his and interesting general account of Inusic— he had seen him often in the this new animal, collected from differmidst of his family; and he had con- ent sources, especially letters of unversed with him, when, in sickness, he doubted authority, which he had rewas anticipating the near approach of ceived from Orkney. He stated, death.
however, that owing to the prevalence Neil Gow was born in Strathbrand, of tempestuous weather, the head, fin, Perthshire, of humble but honest pa- collar-bone, and dorsal vertebræ, pro.. rents, in the year 1727. He died at mised to the University Museum Inver, near Dunkeld, on the 1st of sowie weeks ago, had not yet'arrived ; March 1807. He was twice mar but that he had received a note from ried; first to Margaret Wiseman, by Gilbert Meason, Esq.(the gentleman whom he had a large family : the on whose estate in Stronsa the sea second time to Margaret Urqu- snake was cast) assuring him that hart, by whom he had no children.- they might now be expected by the Besides his son Nathaniel, already first vessel from Orkney, In the
mean time he submitted to the Socie. ing article I am indebted to the at. ty the outline of a generic character. tention of Captain LASKEY of the 'The name which he suggested for 21st Milita,-a keen md successful this new genus was Halsydrus (from investigator of objects in different hals the sea, and hydros a water snake); departments of natural history, and and as it evidently appeared to be the who, during his residence in our neighSoe-Ormen or Serpens marinus mag- bourhood, has added a long list of new nus, long ago treated of by Pontoppi- species to our Scottish conchology, dan, in his Natural History of Nor- chietly discovered by dredging in the way, he suggested that the specific Frith of Forth*.] name might, with propriety, be H. 12. A pair of Snow Bun. Pontoppidani.
tings (Emberiza nivalis,) caught alive near Carnwath last month, ha
ving been sent to Mr Wilson, ColMonthly Memoranda in Natural His. lege, have been kept by him in a
cage ever since ; and they continue tory.
lively, and are pretty familiar. They Jan. 2. 1809. THE Heath Thrush eat cole-seed, canary-seed, or hemp
of Lewin, one of seed indifferently, with crumbs of our rarer migratory birds, was shot bread, or almost any thing offered to near Port Seton Barracks, East Lo- them. thian. This bird, according to Lo
18. The Long-tailed Duck win, considerably resembles the song. (Anas glacialis) was brought to the thrush in colour, but it is perfectly fish-market, having been caught in distinguished from it by its make: the Frith. Dun Divers, wigeons, malthe tail is half an inch shorter; and the lards, wild geese, &c. are very comneck is not so long : the body, how- mon in the poultry-market at present. ever, is a good deal thicker, so that 23. By a letter from Alloa it exceeds the song-thrush in weight : I learn, that the shock of an eartha short black bar appears on each side quake was distinctly felt there, about of the eye, and it is whiter under the 2 o'clock on Wednesday morning, chin. The Port Seton specimen the 18th inst. It seems, from the measured, from the bill to the tail, 12 newspapers, that the tremulous moinches, and from tip of wing to wing tion and noise were very perceptible 20 inches. It seems to have been & all along the base of the Ochils. Straggler ; Lewin remarking that this GREAT COLD.-By the end of species generally arrives about the December, the large quantity of snow end of March, and leaves us in au- which had fallen in that month, had tumn.
disappeared from off the ground.- 3. A Wagel Gull (Larus The wind, however, remained chiefnævius, which, by some naturalists, ly at E. and N. E. On 20 January, is suspected to be only a variety of the cold became pretty severe, and it L. fuscus) of an uncommonly large continued so for several succeeding size, was also shot near Port Seton Ear
days, racks. When the wings were extended, it measured, in breadth, 6; feet, and, in length, from the tip of the
* Similar communications, in any bill to the end of the tail, it was 24 department of natural history, from obfeet. It weighed nearly nine ounces
servers resident in different parts of the
country, will be very acceptable, and more than the largest described by shall be duly attended to in the Monthly Pennant. [For this and the preced- Memoranda.
days, accompanied with much drifting
Directions for the Use of COFFEK, snow, and some hail, On the 7th the wind veering for some time to
To the Editor wards the south, a gentle thaw com
SIR, menced. This continued till the 12th, when frost again set in. The IT is a great presumption in favour
of was, at this time, nothing to what oc tutes a general article of consumption curred to the north of the Forth. in almost all foreign countries, and as Ketween Queensferry and Kinross, it is now likely to be as generally uit lay from six to ten feet deep sed in our own country, I have venfor many days. On Wednesday the țured to trouble you with some obser13th, in the evening, the frost became vations on the subject. exceedingly intense, the mercury in As very little is known of the history, Fahrenheit's thermometer falling as qualities, or proper method of adapt. low as I lo, or 21 degrees below the free. ing Coffee for general use, I beg leave zing point in the neighbourhood of to refer your readers to a Tract, writthis city. At Foxhall, about eight ten by the late Dr Fothergill, and miles west from Edinburgh, in a win- published in the second volume of his dow exposed to the current of air from works, wherein the author says, the N.E., it was observed as low as 6o, point in view is, to engage the Legisor 26 degrees below the freezing point. lature to lower the duties, and encouDuring the three following days, the rage the produce and consumption of thermometer indicated from 22° to Coffee, for the mutual benefit of this 28o. Sunday the 22d was one of nation, and her colonies.” Dr Fo the coldest days in the remembrance thergill's advice seems at last to have of the present generation. At 8 o' made a proper impression on the Le. clock in the morning, in this city, the gislature ; and his opinion, precepts, mercury stood at 11°. A little way and example, must necessarily have from town it was observed at 8°. great weight with all those who are
Queen Street, exposed to the acquainted with his reputation, for Worth, it was as low as 6o. In the wisdom, patriotism, and philanthroevening it was perhaps still colder ; phy; his botanical knowledge and for, at Foxhall, it was noticed as low medical science. But as many of as 5o, or 27 degrees below the freez- your readers may not have an opporing point. The large bason of the tunity of perusing Fothergill's book, new harbour at Leith, though filI shall give you a few hints, taken led with salt water was so complete. from it, which may be useful to those ly frozen over, that the sailors could who possess little information respecpass from ship to ship upon the ice. ting the manner of preparing Coffee, From the 22d to the 25th, the ther- or of its qualities. mometer has varied from 15° to 25o. 1st, it is generally allowed that
During the last six months therefore, Coffee eolivens the spirits, and, with we have seen a range of temperature qut prejudice to the constitution, preof no less than seventy degrees; we have vents drowsiness. It is also, with maexperienced the greatest heat and the ny, a cure for a very distressing and greatest cold known for many years common complaint, the head-ach, bez past.
sides being a relief in various other
N. 26th Jan. 1809.
2d, The longer Coffee is kept in the bean the better ; even to the ex,