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The Scottish Nation

VEDDER, DAVID, a lyric poet of considerable originality, the son of a small proprietor near Kirkwall, was born in the parish of Burness, Orkney, in 1790. He received an ordinary education at the parish school. Left an orphan, at the age of twelve, he became a cabin-boy on board of a small coasting vessel, and when only eighteen years of age was promoted to the rank of mate. Within two years after, he got command of a ship, in which he made several voyages to Greenland and other places. Thereafter he entered the revenue service as first officer of an armed cruiser, and in 1820 he was appointed tide-surveyor of customs. In this capacity he was employed, successively, at the ports of Montrose, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, and Leith. He had early begun to cultivate poetry, and at the age of twenty-one, his first poem appeared in one of the Magazines. Various other pieces of his appeared at intervals in the periodical press, and in 1826 he ventured on the publication of a volume, entitled ‘The Covenanters’ Communion, and other Poems.’ This was issued by Blackwood, at Edinburgh, and the sale was so rapid that it was very speedily out of print. His next work was his ‘Orcanian Sketches,’ published by Tait, consisting of prose and verse, and portraying several passages of his own life. His ‘Life of Sir Walter Scott,’ his next production, was much read and admired, as was also his volume of ‘Ballads and Lyrics.’ In 1841 he published his collected pieces, in one volume, under the title of ‘Poems – Legendary, Lyrical, and Descriptive.’ Many of his lyrics were set to music with or without his consent. In 1848 he furnished the descriptive matter for a work entitled ‘Lays and Lithographs,’ issued by his son-in-law. Mr. Frederick Schenk, lithographer of Edinburgh. His last work was ‘Reynard the Fox,’ a spirited adaptation from the famous German fable of that name, embellished with illustrations. He furnished additions to George Thomson’s ‘Musical Miscellany,’ poetry to the ‘Christian Herald,’ edited by the Rev. Dr. Gardner, songs to the ‘Book of Scottish Song,’ and to ‘Whistle Binkie,’ the two latter Glasgow publications. He likewise wrote the greater part of the letterpress for Geikie’s popular volume of ‘Etchings.’

Mr. Vedder retired from active duty in 1852, and died at Edinburgh, Feb. 11, 1854, aged 63.

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