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Book Reports

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Book Reports

Larry (View posts)
Posted: 1127038010000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Ruickbie
September 17, 2005


A few months back I finally received microfilm copies of the following two books from The National Library of Scotland:

Main author: Ruickbie, James.
Title: Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect. / By James Ruickbie.
Imprint: Hawick: Printed for the author, by Robert Armstrong, 1815.
Format: Book
Pagination: 242 p. ; 18 cm. (12mo)

Main author: Ruickbie, John.
Title: A collection of original poems and songs, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, / by John Ruickbie.
Imprint: Edinburgh : Printed for the author, by R. Menzies, 1837.
Format: Book
Pagination: 96 p. ; 19 cm. (12mo)

It took some time to get the film as these books had never been microfilmed. These 2 books are “quite” rare.

Today was the first chance I had to visit a local facility with a microfilm viewer – to read the books.

This is my report.


The 1837 book by “John Ruickbie of Traquair” would indicate that this John was the man born circa 1779 and the husband of Agnes Tait.

The book also contained two larger poems clearly identified as being written by his father William (who would be the husband of both Isabell Tait and Lilias Euman.)

This brings the number of published Ruickbie poets to 3.

This book, while not as highly polished as James Ruickbie’s work, is amusing in a much lighter, simpler fashion and style.

There are multiple references to Traquair and its people, including one to the “Earl of Traquair” who is praised in a dedicated poem concerning his charity and support of those in the region.

There are multiple references in the work to a “Mary”.

Friends mentioned include Geordy Gray, Sandy Reid, Rob (the weaver), and Peter (“who came frae the hill”.)

The two poems by father William are much more solemn with strict religious overtones.


The 1815 book by James is a LARGE piece of work and includes poems from his first book published in 1807 (and a few dated even earlier). It is a much more polished presentation. The scope of what he covers is wide - including current events of the times, to songs, children’s rhymes, humorous jabs at locals, dedications to friends, and much more on a wide range of topics. In reading it I found it amazing that one could write verse and poems in so many totally different flavours and moods. I would say this work represents his “top of the game”.

His soulful empathy, and hope for betterment of the poor is expressed repeatedly.

In contrast to his 1807 book the long rambling narratives are not present.

Plus – it contains a large surprise – throughout the book James has included footnotes to certain poems. These footnotes are NOT in the Scottish Dialect that all of his poems and verse portray. In fact, the footnotes clearly indicate that James writings were perhaps not his normal way of speaking. (I stress that they are his notes - as they are written in the first person.) These footnote paragraphs are the work of a man who was well educated in the language and grammar, and not that of a bumpkin with an accent as thick as molasses. But I advise that he, at the same time, portrayed that his past was in as much, and that he was proud of this heritage.

No wonder that many of his friends and contemporaries such as Robert Anderson (who is mentioned several times) sought his company and discussion, as it shows James was a man of depth and thought; capable of either a good argument or hearty intelligent support.

This book also shows his patriotism and deep concern in current political events.

On a lighter note I forward that Jamie, as he called himself, liked a wee bit of the ale and Scotch here and there as he writes both a eulogy and an birth announcement - for the death of same, and its return, in 1800 and 1802 (respectively). i.e the “Lean Years”….. Plus more than few poems on the subject of the effects and affects of the devils brew……….

His love for “Meg” is clear throughout. (His wife).

And lastly I make note of a poem making repeated reference to an Ainsley. The accompanying footnote by James says: “Robert Ainsley, a gentleman in Edinburgh, to whom I am much indebted for able instructions in versification.”

It would appear James was capable of being many characters both on, and off the page. – cool………………….



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