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Significant Scots
Richard Gall


GALL, RICHARD, a poet of considerable merit, was the son of a notary in the neighbourhood of Dunbar, where he was born in December, 1776. He received a limited education at Haddington, and at the age of eleven was apprenticed to his maternal uncle, who was a house-carpenter and builder. A decided repugnance to this mechanical art induced him soon after to abandon it, and enter the business of a printer, which was only a degree more suitable to his inclinations, from its connection with literature, to which he was already much attached. In the course of an apprenticeship to Mr David Ramsay, the liberal and enlightened printer of the Edinburgh Evening Courant, he made great advances in knowledge, and began at length to attempt the composition of poetry in the manner of Burns. At the expiry of his time, he had resolved to abandon even this more agreeable profession, as affording him too slight opportunities of cultivating his mind, when fortunately he obtained the appointment of traveling clerk to Mr Ramsay, an employment which promised him much of that leisure for literary recreation, of which he was so desirous. He continued to act in this capacity till his death by abscess in his breast, May 10, 1801, when he wanted still some months to complete his twenty-fifth year.

In the course of his brief career, Mr Gall had secured, by his genius and modest manners, the friendship of various literary characters of considerable eminence, in particular Mr Alexander Murray, afterwards Professor of Oriental Languages, Mr Thomas Campbell, author of the Pleasures of Hope, and Mr Hector Macneill, author of many admired poems in the Scottish dialect. His poetical remains were published in 1819, in one small volume, and include some pieces which have retained their place in the body of our popular poetry, though in general they are characterized by a tameness of thought and language, which will for ever prevent their author from ranking in nearly the same form with Fergusson, Ramsay, and Burns.


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