'An' There Some Readin' to Themselves'?: Reading and Orality in 18th-Century Ulster Poetry
Verse, letters, essays, sermons, reports, fiction — all these genres are to be found in the publishing record of the late 18th century in Ulster. When we look at these artefacts from the perspective of the early 21st century, it is easy to assume, firstly, that they were produced in a society much like ours, and, secondly, that these written texts have more or less the same relationship as that which (at a level below consciousness) applies to our own written and spoken outputs.
However, in making such assumptions, it is possible that we are guilty of transposing modern patterns onto the 18th century. At the very least, we should be more aware of the conventions which governed the composition of written texts in the past, and of the paradox which insists that all we know of the spoken language of the 18th century is derived from written sources. If we are interested in studying the lost speech sounds, and/or the equally lost contexts in which speech events occurred, then we must wring as much information as possible from the published texts, relatively few in number as these are. Poetry is likely to be the best source of information on the sounds of speech, since its whole structure is predicated on the poet's conscious attempt to rhyme words in which he expected his readers or hearers would perceive similar sounds. It will be particularly important to analyse the poetry written in what purports to be a written version of the Ulster-Scots spoken dialect, for in this sub-genre the poet's awareness of the sounds of speech, and his efforts to recreate them in written form, are as important to the 'message' as they are to the 'medium'. It turns out on closer examination that the poetry of a small number of people writing in the late 18th century, in particular that of James Orr (1770-1816) of Ballycarry in south-east Antrim, is a useful source of information about the society and the spoken language of his time and place, as well as about the linguistic attitudes discernible in the interaction between society and language. In Orr's poetry, there are descriptions of contexts within which speech events took place, as well as direct evidence about the sounds of speech and hints about the place of literature, specifically verse, in his society. It is also possible to discern in Orr's work some of the poet's own attitudes to literature, to orality, and to the changes around him.
Niall Ó Ciosáin has recently suggested that just such a close focus on an individual reader/writer might shed light on the ethnography of orality and literacy. In his analysis of the popular culture of 18th-century Ireland, the content and context of 'popular print' (chapbooks, ballads, primers, catechisms and the like) serves to some extent to delineate the reading practices and attitudes to literacy and literature that characterized that society.(1) Ó Ciosáin's approach and insights are valuable developments in the study of the period and of the topic, particularly so for areas of the country and social classes which have been scarcely examined. It is perhaps ironic, or perhaps just indicative of the need to avoid generalizations, that, when the writings of James Orr are examined, it becomes clear that though socio-economically and culturally he might be regarded as someone likely to be an avid reader of chapbooks and other printed ephemera, Orr's view of 'popular print' is anything but favourable.
Further study will be needed to determine whether Orr's community as a whole held similar prejudices or whether it was those who regarded themselves as the 'better sort' who affected such views. It must be remembered that it is possible that Orr was not typical of his community or of his own generation in his experiences and resulting attitudes; it should be noted that he was the only child of relatively elderly parents, who did not send him to school. They were themselves literate, and preferred to teach him at home. He may therefore have held beliefs about language and about literacy which were more characteristic of an earlier period. Though it may be impossible to decide on this one way or the other, given the scarcity of evidence, the case of Orr's attitude to ballads and chapbooks does underline the importance of local and individual studies.
It can be claimed that on education, at least, Orr seems to have held views similar to those of others who wrote on the subject at that time. Formal education outside the home had long been available in the north of Ireland. The local schoolhouse in which Orr's 'rude coevals learn'd to read and write' was already in ruins by 1810.(2) Literacy rates were high even in the 18th century. A figure of 83% of Protestant men who were literate has been suggested for north-west Ulster in the two decades 1780-1799, and literacy would have been at least as widespread in north-east Ulster.(3) Women were more likely to read only than to read and write, but in Ballycarry and elsewhere girls often did attend the same schools as their brothers. Orr's poems and essays by Orr and others in the Belfast Monthly Magazine, which was published between 1808 and 1814, are full of the enthusiasm for education which characterized many people in the period, particularly those with liberal or radical views, who hoped that literacy skills and universal education would inevitably bring about unparalleled moral and social amelioration.(4)
The poetry of Orr and his contemporaries, as well as travellers' descriptions, local periodicals, surviving booksellers' lists and contemporary bookplates, etc., all make it abundantly clear that books were available, were bought and were read. J. R. R. Adams's book The Printed Word and the Common Man (1987) suggests many of the ways in which these books could be acquired and lists those which were locally published or reprinted. It is possible to trace some of Orr's literary influences and to count the books he must have read. Orr mentions or quotes from over thirty classics of the period, both English and Scottish, and a contemporary description of a local poet, unnamed, but probably Orr himself, notes that he had amassed an impressive collection of books. A bookcase was 'really crammed with books, chiefly select, as Hume's History of England, Gibbon's Decline of the Roman Empire, Gordon's History of Ireland, Heron's Scotland, several modern tours, and a large collection of magazines. The novels and poetical works I found equally elegant, and very numerous'.(5) So Orr was literate, even well read, and so probably were most of his neighbours.
Orality, literacy, language attitudes, spelling conventions, the creative urge: these are topics which are of increasing interest to theorists, as well as to those with more involvement in applied linguistics, and are increasingly important in studies of societies and language groups worldwide. Middle English dialectology has been the source of a number of insights relevant to such studies, and of course anthropology can link modern contexts with analogous situations more or less distant in time or space. The work of the late Robert Gregg and of the late Brendan Adams, and those who came after them, provides useful hard synchronic data on Ulster speech, to which historical linguistic material can be contrasted, and the contemporary Ulster speech situation has been the subject of a number of sophisticated and productive theoretical analyses by such scholars as Rona Kingsmore and the Milroys. Sociolinguistic interrogation of literary sources produced in the past in Ulster is beginning to be undertaken by Philip Robinson, Michael Montgomery, John Erskine and a few others; and in this paper, though there are more questions than answers, an attempt will be made to delineate some linguistic aspects of the community within which Orr lived and wrote. The role of written material in the transmission of information and news in general throughout society will be examined first. This possibly predated the use of reading material as entertainment, and it is certainly easier to understand. Theorists are still struggling to explain why or how people derive pleasure from the written word.
The early stages of human society were characterized by a completely oral and aural culture, in which transmission of information, entertainment and general phatic and meaning-laden communication necessitated the close proximity of those involved in the interchange. As writing and reading became available means of communicating, and particularly when printing technology increased the density of possible links in a society, a new phase of human development was reached; people did not have to be within earshot of each other to hear what was being said. It could be argued that in our time we are working our way into a third phase, which in some senses encapsulates the two earlier stages. Nowadays, we have returned to communication of information and entertainment which is aurally received, but we do not have to be close to the interlocutor or to the source of the message. Probably our society has still to become completely relaxed with the new technologies and the new media. Individuals seem often, for instance, to believe that they 'know' as acquaintances or even friends, television personalities whose voices and faces have become so familiar that that is the only way they can be regarded, given our experience and expectations of human interaction. People assume that someone you see often, who smiles at you and talks to you, is your friend. It seems possible that Orr was writing at just such another phase change, when a largely oral society was shifting towards a print-based culture.
Orr's poetry hints at the ways in which, over a few preceding generations, the practice of reading had been assimilated by a previously oral community. It is probable that letters bringing news from friends and loved ones were among the earliest forms of the written word to impact on previously oral communities. Several poems feature the reading or writing of letters. Orr notes with gentle amusement the pride of a mother 'whose son on distant coasts / Sails in some fleet, or roams a foreign land'. She 'brings each blurr'd scrawl he sent, and fondly boasts, / That no night scholar wrote so fair a hand'.(6) Several of Orr's poems are themselves epistles; two of them are to fellow poets with published books to their names, Samuel Thomson and W. H. Drummond. The latter, though from county Antrim, never wrote in Ulster-Scots, but Orr chooses to address him in Scots. The letter to Thomson begins conventionally, 'Dear Thomson', but the poem's style and the tone of the address is that of colloquial Ulster-Scots speech, rather than the more formal register usually adopted for letters. Orr ends it with 'Good night!', rather than 'I remain, Sir, ...' or even 'Yours faithfully' or 'Yours sincerely'. Orr's friend Thomson preserved the letters that he received from people who were interested in literature. In his letter book, there is a letter (in English prose) from Orr, which shows him to have been perfectly at home with the contemporary conventions of handwriting, orthography and letter-writing in English.(7) Orr's decision to write to Thomson in verse in Ulster-Scots, and so informally, suggests that he was perhaps aware of the novelty value of writing a letter in Ulster-Scots. Though Ulster-Scots speech was clearly important to him, and though it is possible that he may have been attempting to reclaim genres in which Scots could be written, it seems to have been too difficult for him to overcome convention and write down Ulster-Scots in any medium except verse.
In one of the letters in Samuel Thomson's letter book we can see an intermediate stage between the private letter and the newpaper. For people like Thomson, educated, literate and politically aware, news from outside their own rural communities had become a necessity. Thomson had asked his friend Aeneas Lamont, who worked on the Northern Star newspaper in Belfast, to send him news from Belfast or further afield. Thomson's letter to Lamont is not extant, but it may be that he had asked his friend, not so much for news which he could not have obtained in any other way, but for news which was reliable because it was personally vouched for. Lamont responds on 1 June 1797, impatiently but with affection and humour:
There is not a man in the county that I would readier oblige if it were in my power than yourself, but as to coming under an obligation to send you the news weekly, it is a thing impossible. When I got your letter I would willingly have paid an express to have went to your place, but damn me if I could either force or coax myself to sit down and write. I went to inquire when the carts would go away — I was told I have time enough to write a line — I waited until the carts were away and damn the line I wrote! The truth is I am so much agitated about these eventful times, so eternally absorbed in reflection and speculation about my country and its inhabitants that I can do nothing but what I am compelled to by necessity, and I am even deficient in that. The foreign news till this time are as follows. The preliminaries of peace are ratified and proclaimed over all the continent. The French are threatening to punish perfidious England. The mutiny of the fleets continues in all the ports. The prince of Wurtemburg makes a great fuss in London, and the Princess his wife let a fart! So there now, you have all the foreign news.(8)
A few lines further on, Lamont warns Thomson that there will be 'no more Stars nor any impartial news under this present system — we are all to be sworn in cumulo tomorrow. A swearing mill, otherwise two judges, have come down here for the purpose'. Lamont's letter reveals that people at this time were already sophisticated consumers of news, increasingly discriminating about the quality of the news which was available to them in printed sources.
From the end of the 18th century onwards, demand for news never slackened. The small village of Maghera in county Londonderry in 1814 had 'a very great thirst for news'. The local clergyman estimated that about £80 a year was spent on one English paper, four Dublin papers, nineteen from Belfast and one each from Waterford and Kilkenny. Undoubtedly each of these had several readers, sometimes six or more, as the owner of the Belfast News Letter claimed in 1794.(9) Contemporaries realized that newspapers had the same effect on isolated areas as did the arrival of personal letters; 'periodical publication', 'this mailcoach of mind', 'this vehicle of various intelligence ... [is] the means of quickening the suspended animation of the human mind in the most distant corners'.10 The pun on the two meanings of the word 'intelligence' is perhaps not without significance.
Orr's poems show us, however, that news, whether of printed origin or not, was still very often orally transmitted within the county Antrim community. The opening of one of his poems captures a moment when one man passes news from far away on to another:
The lift begud a storm to brew,
The cloudy sun was vex't an' dark,
A forket flash cam' sklentin' thro'
Before a hawk, that chas'd a lark;
Then as I ran to reach a booth,
I met a swain, an' ax't 'what news?'(11)
What Orr heard on this inauspicious occasion was indeed 'sad news': the death of Robert Burns. Meditating on the importance of this poet to his readers in Ulster, Orr's poem sums up how he sees the function of written literature as well as the reading habits of his generation:
Sad news! He's gane, wha baith amus'd
The man o' taste, an' taught the rude;
Whase warks hae been mair read an' roos'd
Than onie, save the word o' Gude.(12)
Literature for Orr can both amuse and teach. The Bible, God's word, is paramount, but other texts have their own importance. Many poems show how people read for pleasure as well as for improvement. Orr writes about his own response to literature; in a poem which insists that life is basically good, Orr includes a verse on literature, which claims that even in relatively impoverished lives,
imagination ... can charm thee with a smile.
Or read till wrapt, and o'er thy lamp.
With Tully plead for Rome,
Comment on war in Caesar's camp,
Or share all Eden's bloom
With Milton; talk to Trim with Sterne:
Or drink with Burns in Kyle;
From sympathy a sot might learn
That Man was made to smile.(13)
In this mood, at least, Orr is in agreement with those of his contemporaries who held that literature, and especially fiction, exerts its power over the reader because it is able to excite emotions analogous to those of the protagonists within the work of art.
In another of Orr's poems, 'The Penitent', he notes how lessons derived from the Bible, literature, and theology are readily learned because the readers identify with the experiences and emotions described:
Ane Fletcher's warks, a bra unbiassed sage,
Gart 'em wi' might an' mense the Calvinists engage.
An' searchin' for the Truth improv'd their taste:
How nat'ral Joseph's Life was weel they kent;
How Moses' muse her notes sublimely rais'd.
An Jeremiah's deeply did lament;
The spen'thrift son's fine scene they weel cud paint,
An' guid Samaritan's — an' nearer han',
How Young made night mair solemn wi' his plaint;
How Milton's Eve was fair, his Adam fand;
How Gray was sad an' grave, an' Shakespeare wildly grand.(14)
In this poem, the reading of the Bible and literature complete the work of spiritual and social regeneration begun when the drunken and wastrel father of the family attends a Methodist meeting in a barn. The conversion results from an experience in an oral environment when 'Smyth, the methodie, harangu'd the folk / They mourn'd and cried amen'; but reading of the texts is apparently carried out within the home; the books are described collectively as 'bolefu's'. The bole was a shelf in a recess close to the chimney.(15)
In 'The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial', he describes how during the wake, the night before the funeral, the neighbours and extended family gather in the cottier's family home. 'Belyve an auld man lifts the Word o' God, ... / Reads o'er a chapter, chosen as it should, / That maks them sure the dead shall rise again'.(16) The use of the phrase 'Word o' God' is particularly telling. The Bible was held to preserve divine utterances, and Orr's use of the term here works poetically as well as theologically to suggest that those present are comforted by hearing God's own voice. There is a surprisingly strong parallel drawn between the word of God and the reported 'dyin' words' of the old cottier, an earthly father who tells his children, just as God the heavenly father does, that 'whan your clay lies mould'rin' in a shroud / Your saul shall soar to Heaven, an' care nae mair becloud'.(17) The older people at the wake, as the night wears on, 'argue Scripture', a particularly succinct description of the characteristic Presbyterian Bible-based discussions of theology. On the same occasion, a girl 'turns to the light and sleely seems to read', though she is really listening to the conversation of the young men.(18) Reading, at least on this occasion, is shown as subordinate to orally transmitted advice, comfort and entertainment.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Orr's work, and of the personality glimpsed through that work, is the complexity of the patterns of attitudes revealed. He is clearly very strongly attached to his native area and to the people and way of life characteristic of it, and yet he criticizes some of its traditional beliefs as superstitious. Similarly, he writes songs and what appear to be fictional narratives and takes pleasure in hearing them recited locally, and yet is deeply hostile to ballad singers and chapbooks. In 'The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial', he notes that despite the fact that the cottier himself, Orr's hero, would have disapproved,
To bare the shelves o' plates they fa' to wark;
Before the looking-glass a claith they cast;
An' if a clock were here, nae ear might hark,
Her still'd han's tell how hours an' moments pass'd;
Ignorance bred sic pranks, an' custom gars them last'.(19)
In one of Orr's most ambitious poems in English blank verse, on the Assizes in Carrickfergus, he laments the fate of an uneducated youth, who 'scarce can spell the ribaldry he sings'.(20) In 'Ballycarry Fair', a ballad-singer 'bawls a string o' noisy nonsense O!'(21) There is a relatively lengthy prose essay in the Belfast Monthly Magazine for May 1810, p.321, which though signed pseudonomously 'Censor, Ballycarry', must be by Orr.
In every market and fair of our country villages, some itinerant musician bellows out a panegyric on debauchery, riot and splendid ruin, and sells the destructive doggerel as fast as he can hand it out. The gaping bumpkin shrugs and laughs and having waited to learn the tune, hums it along the path, which the Grub-Street muse, for want of flowers, has strewed with weeds; the perilous path that leads him to some of the 'styes which law has licensed', where, obedient to his anonymous monitor, he inhales as many potations as his whole pig's price will purchase, swears his hostess out of half a pint.... [If criticized by his mother or wife] he pulls out the cheap apology for licentiousness, which she must know is now become fashionable, and half spells, half sings her to silence ....
Orr's evidence on the various ways in which 'popular print' circulated, and the degree to which it was accepted by different sections of society, adds greatly to our knowledge of the diffusion of such material and its influence. His essay indicates that in some homes at least, the ballads and ballad-singers were frowned on. He notes that some
striplings whose ears are barred against the energetic notes of an 'excellent new song' are none the less susceptible to the blessed biographic sketch of twenty four pages .... As soon as the hawker's basket is set down, if [the father has] as much money as will purchase whatever worthless work they happen to fancy, it is cheerfully granted, happy in the hope, that while they seek amusement only, they will be ensnared into the art of reading. The means are blameable, as the end is praiseworthy.
Orr, afraid of the 'imperceptible power of first impressions', suggests that stories about Robin Hood, Captain James Hind, 'the chief robber of England', and Redmond O'Hanlon, will awaken a propensity to crime in the young. In the expression of these attitudes, Orr must be perceived as making common cause with those of the elite who increasingly sought to reform the culture, morals and habits of the ordinary people.
Orr's poems do not provide much evidence on exactly how people read. In one verse, on his own formation as a poet, he notes that 'the little lore that I acquir'd / Was closely sought while others slept' and that if a book was mentioned to him, he 'bought, or borrow'd, read and thought'.(22) This suggests that private reading did occur, while in a poem on the experience of emigration across the Atlantic, in a description of how people pass the time, there is one telling phrase which suggests that private reading was not the only way in which people experienced books.
Here, some sing sangs, or stories tell,
To ithers bizzy knittin';
An' there some readin' to themsels,
Nod owre asleep, while sittin'
Twa fold that day.(23)
'Readin' to themsel's' of course is an unambiguous phrase. The term 'reading' on the other hand is not adequate to describe the ways in which people take hold of material from a printed page, and we need to remember that in earlier periods it quite often means 'reading aloud' to others as well as 'reading to oneself'. Reading, whether public or private, took place within family and social settings, and it may well be that the contemporary phenomenon of the reading society arose at a time when private reading was still unfamiliar and perhaps somewhat difficult to locate within the expected patterns of behaviour. Orr's description of the 'reading circle' which he attended stresses that his fellow members 'all my toils and all my pastimes share'; reading was likewise to be shared so that all could profit by 'transfusing copiously the stream of thought'.(24) It seems that, at least in the society of which Orr was a member, books were read at home, then brought to the meeting to be discussed, and that the second part of the evening consisted of a debate, conducted quite formally with a chairman and adhering to pre-arranged rules. It would be interesting to know if this format had been introduced to Presbyterian areas in the meetings of ministers for mutual improvement which had been occurring sporadically since the previous century. Of course, as is evident in Orr's description of the cottier's wake, 'arguing Scripture' was of prime importance in the social and intellectual life of Ulster Presbyterians, and an extension of this practice to other forms of literature is not surprising.
Reading aloud, reading in the reading societies - these were ways in which printed literature and its enjoyment could be fitted in to the existing social patterns; but there is an abundance of evidence in Orr and elsewhere which suggests that the community had long been accustomed to enjoy 'unprinted literature', and also that the production of literature was in this society something of a communal, rather than a solitary, experience. Historians note with surprise the number of people who published verse in north-east Ulster in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; it is likely that the volumes which were published represent only the tip of the iceberg.(25) Orr and Thomson and the other published poets mention their acquaintances who also wrote verse, but never published it in print; Orr congratulated his friend Nathaniel Pinkerton of Broadisland on a poem about a boat race.(26) There has been a long tradition in the north of Ireland in the Masonic Order, of which Orr was an enthusiastic member, of writing songs to be sung, or verse to be recited, at the dinners after meetings. Even into the 20th century, verse on local topics, often satirical or ribald, was written by both men and women.
In the 18th and early-19th centuries, one of the popular evening entertainments was the practice of metrical psalm tunes. It was held to be wrong to use the psalm's words, so any one who could compose a verse to the appropriate metre could oblige his friends to sing it. Several of the poets who published poetry in county Antrim, including Orr, had their first experience of verse composition at these gatherings.(27) The fireside game of crambo, when people competitively composed lines or verses of poetry, is also known to have been popular. Samuel Thomson, Orr's friend, even called his house Crambo Cave, presumably in honour of the pastime, and we know that Thomson and several of his friends jointly composed pieces of verse.(28) It can even be argued that it is in this communal approach to poetry that we can locate the way in which Ulster poets read the works of Robert Burns. They regarded him as one of themselves, addressed verses to him, and took up some of his themes and diction and used them in their own work. Thomson printed a volume of poems. Poems on different subjects .... (1793), in a style to match Burns'. When literary historians alleged that Ulster poets started to write poetry in imitation of Burns, they clearly failed to appreciate the extent to which verse-making was endemic in the orally based cultures of Ulster (and Scotland), and assumed that publication in print is an essential part of the process of producing literature.(29)
It may well be, of course, that it is thanks to Burns' example that a number of Ulster poets in the late 18th century were motivated to have their verse printed, and so it may be that it is to Burns, famous for his description of 'the chiel amang ye takin' notes, And faith, he'll prent it', that we are indirectly indebted for a large amount of what we know about late 18th-century Ulster speech and speech situations.(30) Orr's success in capturing the subleties of the social setting of language is evident in his description of the attempt by those present at the cottier's wake to converse in a formal register with the college-educated minister. The people at the wake show off their knowledge of book language, but 'they monie a lang learn'd word misca' and misapply' — they mispronounce words that they have only seen written down. Orr records something of the linguistic etiquette of the period. The people at the wake feel that it is appropriate to attempt to 'quat braid Scots' when they are speaking to the Presbyterian minister, though it is more than likely that he was himself a local man, and educated at a Scottish university.(31)
Orr is particularly adept at representing the idioms and phraseology of speech; even within the confines of the stanza and rhyme scheme, the reported speech is much more like 'the language really used by men' than anything achieved by his more famous contemporary, William Wordsworth.(32) One of Orr's poems reveals his interest in the different registers and dialects that he encountered when he travelled away from Ballycarry. In 'The Passengers' he describes the experience of emigrating; the colloquial and realistic flavour of the dialogue is marked even in the quotations from the local people who travelled with him; exclamations abound: 'L——d man ....'; 'hegh!, och!'; 'L——d sen' me hame!' But Orr is particularly interested in the sailors' argot. 'Yo heave ho!' is their exclamation, and in four lines, still within the confines of the rhyme scheme, he preserves what was for him the novel diction of the seaman, who was possibly not from Ulster. The only word with its final consonant elided is lan ', which has to rhyme with man; Ulster-Scots speakers would usually have elided the 'd' of lend and blind, and the 'f' of of.
Eh! dem my eyes! how is't, goodman?
Got clear of Davy's locker?
Lend me a facer till we lan'
Till blind as Newgate's knocker
We'll swig, that day.(33)
Other poems in which he is able to suggest the sound of speech in written text include 'The Spae-wife' and 'The Wanderer'. Both of these are completely in reported speech, with no authorial comment and nothing to set the scene; poems of this sort are rare in English literature, with Robert Browning as the best-known exponent. Orr is surprisingly expert in rendering the spoken word in written form. The rhythms and cadences of the spoken language are generally as difficult to convey as are the familiar sounds of Ulster-Scots in written conventions which were not designed for them. It is easy to forget that it took the written form of English several hundred years to become even as consistent in its symbolic representation as it is, and the development of the international phonetic alphabet took the equivalent of several full-time Victorian careers. We are all accustomed to the written language the way it is; this partly explains why it is probably easier to write in standard English, and why, even for enthusiasts for Ulster-Scots, it is easier to read standard English.
It was hard for poets to keep up the effort of trying to write down their spoken speech, partly because of the rigidities associated with the writing down of language. Perhaps we unconsciously pick these up at school: you have to write neatly and carefully; writing is structured and possibly permanent, whereas speech is gone with the wind. Anything written is liable to become associated with permanence and formality; only suitable topics are worth writing about. Ulster-Scots dialect, like Dorset dialect and Yorkshire dialect in England, becomes associated with particular topics and forms of verse, and then it is rapidly restricted to those. This is partly why there are few Ulster-Scots poems on serious subjects like death.
A society which begins to become literate makes a huge investment of effort and money in the process of educating its members. Anyone who has watched schoolchildren struggling to form shaky print, and who remembers the effort that went into learning the one correct, but apparently arbitrary, combination of letters to spell any word, recognizes the effort involved. The language of literacy is an abstraction from the spoken language, and learning the spoken language of the home is so much easier for all of us than learning a second language, the written form of the first. But once the investment is made, once literacy is possible, there is no turning back. In all societies, literacy is recognized as a passport out of isolated non-literate communities; it simultaneously creates and supplies the demand for ever more information. That information in turn brings about the loss of the purely oral, as well as the destruction of the isolation of the community. In Ulster, literacy in the standard form of the language brought in its wake the consolidation of the acceptance of the standard form as the elite language. This phenomenon, so well documented in other societies and language situations, may at least partly explain the contemporary attrition of the Irish language.(34)
The kinds of behaviour expected in a given community, the ways of relating to others, the attitudes and entertainments characteristic of that group - these are all mediated by language, and in earlier societies, that would have been the spoken language. It can be argued that speech makes the culture of a community distinctive, and though borrowing of language items may occur, distinction in language is what prevented one community from merging with another. People who share one language, as they shared so much else of life's experiences, share one mindset. Written texts from outside that mindset introduce the possibility of learning alternative ways of doing things, of experiences which are novel, of new methods used elsewhere. They create dissatisfaction with the old ways, and not just among younger generations.
Written texts, so portable, so addictive, so powerful, will inevitably breach the invisible barriers round an isolated speech community. Not only that, but the acquisition of literacy parallels the acquisition of modern self-consciousness and individuation. The literate individual is aware of himself and of his environment in a way that a member of a pre-literate society is not. It has been argued that writing makes possible 'the intellectual objectification of self and world', introducing the 'distancing inherent in the scientific approach to life' which is held to characterize modern societies in the West.(35) It may well be, also, that it is not just literacy which changes a society for ever. Literacy is generally acquired in schools, and the whole experience of schooling, the new kinds of socialization therein, and the removal of children from the home to join a group with different rules and expectations, and with a novel hierarchy and a generational structure: all of this could have contributed to the changes in society which anthropologists expect to follow upon the acquisitions of literacy.
The poetry of late 18th-century Ulster is produced in a society which has undergone some of these changes and in which orality is losing ground. The poets who turn to publishing their work in books seem to have realized, perhaps only dimly, that the speech of their native region was important, and some of them, especially Orr and Thomson, perhaps also grasped that something valuable and distinctive was under threat, that standardization of language was a possibility, and that the community life of Ulster was so intimately bound up with its language that the loss of linguistic distinctiveness would alter their society. Whether any of them perceived the irony that print itself would bring about the destruction of the oral community which they valued, is doubtful.
Orr and Thomson learned to write the standard language. Its conventions are not designed to represent the idiosyncrasies of speech and regional variations, but they tried to make them do so. It must be emphasized that this was the only way open to them to represent their spoken language, Ulster-Scots, in print. It is an extremely complex task to develop alternative ways of spelling sounds, and even if an individual is successful in designing a new system, he runs the risk that no-one in his intended audience will be able to read it - and more than likely will not take the trouble to try. The challenge for writers of Ulster-Scots is to represent their language faithfully using conventions which are already familiar. Orr's successful renditions of speech make it seem all the more likely that in using the conventions which had been first adumbrated by the Scots authors of earlier generations such as Allan Ramsay, and later by Burns, he was almost iconographically imaging his involvement with the distinctiveness of his community. Hugh Porter of Moneyslan in county Down noted that 'And thirdly in my style appears / The accent of my early years, / Which is nor Scotch nor English either / But part o' baith mix'd up thegither / Yet it's the sort my neighbours use / Wha think 'shoon' prettier far than shoes'.(36) What seems to have been almost a conscious linguistic choice is reported here. Orr takes pleasure in realizing that 'countra folk my dog'rels roose, / In terms that mak' me blythe'.(37)
Orr's use of the apostrophe to indicate dropped consonants and elided syllables is remarkably careful. It is not often that even close study will turn up an inconsistency like that in two successive lines of 'Song Written in Winter', where he writes 'wi' settin' dogs' and 'we snaw-baws'.(38) His most frequent use of the apostrophe is to write down a word which in his pronunciation would have no final consonant — 'restin", 'o", but there are other, more imaginative uses. For instance, he uses an apostrophe at the end of a past participle or the past tense, almost certainly to indicate that in his speech the pronunciation of the final syllable is /t/ rather than /d/, representing the earlier Scots form -it, and to make sure that there is no ambiguity or danger of misapprehension of meaning or intended sound introduced by respelling the verb with a final t. Thus in the phrase 'weel-pair't peasants', the apostrophe is not strictly necessary — no syllable is elided, but Orr's use of it here prevents a reader from reading 'pairt' as if it was a respelling of 'part' or wondering what is the adjective being used to describe the peasants. Similarly, in 'sparkle't', the apostrophe allows the verb to be read correctly, and not as *spark-let.
Orr takes care to indicate when even a relatively minor difference from standard pronunciation is intended; for instance, in rememb'rin' and mould'rin'. The use of the apostrophe in other circumstances, though conventional nowadays and perhaps already in Orr's time, should be recognized as an ingenious, even inspired, method of representing words which have different pronunciations in Ulster-Scots. The word eye for instance, pronounced /i/ in Ulster-Scots, can be represented with admirable accuracy and read with ease when written down e'e ; the medial apostrophe scarcely impinges on the reading eye, and the new spelling has the merit of retaining enough of the conventional spelling to be instantly recognized. The same is true of a respelling like gi'es for 'gives' and lea's for 'leaves', while in spellings like mak' for 'make', the apostrophe has something of the force of a diacritic, indicating to the reader that the vowel in the syllable before the apostrophe must be pronounced differently from the vowel in the equivalent English word, which would otherwise be difficult to respell and thus much more difficult to read. Mak's could be respelled, using conventional English rules of representing sounds, as *max or *macks, but neither of these would be so readily understood and accepted by the reader.
The beginning of this paper emphasized the importance of examining all details of the written texts available from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. There is a wealth of information about the sounds of contemporary speech in Orr's rhymes. Rhyme evidence is not, however, always unambiguous, and analysis must wait for another occasion. Orr's respellings, which were adopted specifically and consciously to indicate one particular pronunciation, are easier to elucidate; conclusions about Orr's attempts to render pronunciation on paper will be presented in an appendix. Even cursory examination indicates that Orr was deliberately respelling words to indicate their local pronunciation. This suggests that he was aware that the speech of his community differed from that of people who might read his work. Linguistic awareness of this sort, as discussed above, suggests a degree of sophistication which would not have been present in a community without external contacts.
Orr's community, then, was no longer isolated, unaltered and orally orientated. There is still, however, in Orr's poetry, evidence which allows us to guess at some of the elements of attitude and behaviour which would have characterized earlier generations of Ulster-Scots. It is worth stressing that this kind of reconstruction, while tentative, can only be attempted at all because Orr and his contemporaries happened to live during a phase transition between states of linguistic development. It has been claimed, for instance, that oral societies are 'utterance-collecting'.(39) Proverbs and habitually used phrases contain general truths which have been painfully learned and which are thus orally transmitted between the generations. The term cliché, with its pejorative connotations of staleness and triteness, derives appropriately enough from printing technology; for an oral society, something good cannot be too often repeated. There are many proverbs and traditional collocations in Orr and especially also in the work of his friend Thomson. Orr writes approvingly of a child of whom he was fond that 'acute were his senses and his mem'ry strong / How soon he learns the tale, the riddle or the song'.(40) A number of proverbs and what appear to be collocate phrases, or idioms, are listed in Appendix 2; Orr frequently sets these off in his text with inverted commas or uses italics, indicating that he recognized these utterances as in some way special or perhaps characteristic of his own area.
One can glimpse in Orr's poetry some aspects of a previously oral society, which in ways resembles that described by David Rollison, who studied a small area of Gloucestershire in England in the 16th century.(41) Rollison notes that the lives of the inhabitants there and then were focused on a number of 'dynamic loci'; the most immediate was the home, then the family, then the neighbours and what the people of Dursley called 'the countrey'. This last focus was very different from what we mean when we use either of the meanings of 'country' current today. For these 16th-century people, 'the countrey' was the landscape around them, in which they perceived meaning and continuity, and in which resided known or related families. In 'the countrey' was vested the right to pass judgment on the activities or characters of individuals and families; some of this way of looking at the community seems also to be found in Orr's world.(42)
Many of Orr's poems contain reference to the judgment of the community; the poet's persona has been told the tale of the penitent weaver's life by 'Brice, the auld herd on the moor ... Brice gi'ed me this account, an' right weel pleas'd I was'. The penitent weaver's progress is of interest to his neighbours —'ilk short relapse the clashes met to track o".(43) Orr's description of the community as it sits in judgment is not always flattering: 'the claghin wives, wi' heads in flannin', / Forgether'd on a sabbath e'enin' .... / Losh how they rauner, rail an' ripple / Their nybers' names, an' mumph an' sipple'.(44) The community is particularly prone to sum up the nature of the contribution of its deceased members. Orr notes that some receive the 'palm of posthumous applause', while, in a poem on the death of the cottier, Orr writes:
The village sires, wha kent him lang, lament
The dear deceas'd, an praise his life an' creed:
For if they crav'd his help in time o' need,
Or gied him trust, they prov'd him true an' kin'.
In several of Orr's poems he speculated on what his neighbours would say about him after his death, and he tried to ensure that poems he had written would not be lost; he asked friends to try to publish them. In a biographical sketch prefixed to the posthumously published volume of Orr's poems, his friend Archibald McDowell wrote:
the fate of a character, as well as worldly effects, is bequeathed to futurity. [Orr's] wish was that [his poems] might be published; and my aim is in acceding to his desire, that whatever ability in them shall be found, may not be lost in the progressive waste of time, but that the Press may save them to posterity, as evidence on which to form judgment.(45)
Robert Gregg was a native of Glenoe, and thus from the same 'countrey' as James Orr. Both men were fascinated by their native speech and struggled to preserve it in a written form, which in their different ways they have 'bequeathed to futurity'. Posterity can rightly form the judgment that the work of both Gregg and Orr merits the 'palm of posthumous applause'.
Respelled words in James Orr's poems
nybers, nyb 'rin' 'neighbours' suggesting a pronunciation with /aɪ/ and with non-occurrence of a schwa vowel
le'er 'liar' suggesting a pronunciation with /ir/ or /er/
saunt 'saint' suggesting a pronounciation with /ɑ/
cam 'came' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
bleaze 'blaze' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
peys 'pays' suggesting a pronunciation with /aɪ/
staid 'stayed' suggesting a pronunciation with /aɪ/
wauk 'wake' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/
straught 'straight' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ and probably with a medial fricative /x/
staun 'stand' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ and with non-occurrence of final /d/
bonnock 'bannock' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/
moorlun' 'moorland' suggesting a pronunciation with /ə/ or perhaps merely an attempt to render the unstressed syllable before non-occurrence of final /d/
stauchrin' 'staggering' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/, /x/ instead of /g/ and non-occurrence of syllabic /ə/
wat 'wet' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
weel 'well' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
wab 'web' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
whan 'when' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
walth 'wealth' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
rack 'wreck' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
monie 'many' suggesting a pronunciation with /o/
crap 'crept' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ and non-occurrence of final /t/
carn 'cairn' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
whare 'where' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ or perhaps /ɑ/
scaur'd 'scared' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ or perhaps /ɑ/ and probably indicating final /t/ instead of final /d/
daur 'dare' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ or perhaps /ɑ/
graise 'grease' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
quat 'quit' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
hade 'hid' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
lieve and 'live' and leev'd 'lived', suggesting a pronunciation with /i/ and perhaps final /t/ in the past tense
dreep 'drip' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
seeves 'sieves' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
lee-lang 'live-long' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/ and with /a/ in 'long', and non-occurrence of medial /v/
tap 'top' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
faps 'fops' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
drap, drapie, drapple 'drop' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
sang 'song' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
gude 'God' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/
lang 'long' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
stap 'stop' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
saft, saftly 'soft, softly' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
aft 'oft' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
wrang'd 'wronged' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ and perhaps final /t/ instead of /d/
claith 'cloth' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
shap 'shop' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
fander, fandness 'fonder, fondness' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
laft 'loft' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
fand 'fond' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
half-thow't 'half-thawed' suggesting a pronunciation with /au/, perhaps, and with final /t/
amang 'among' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
sauls 'souls' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ or possibly /au/
cam'd 'combed' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/ or with /a/ and possibly with final /t/ instead of /d/
faes 'foes' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
banes 'bones' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
haudins 'holdings' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ or possibly /au/, and with non-occurrence of medial /l/ and occurrence of final /n/
fald 'fold' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
baith 'both' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
row 'roll' suggesting a pronunciation with vocalization of final /l/. The vowel may be either /o/ or /au/.
haud 'hold' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ and vocalization of medial /l/
rapes 'ropes' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
maist 'most' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
laigh 'low' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/ and with a final fricative /x/
hame, hameward 'home, homeward' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
lanely 'lonely' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
hauden 'holding' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/, non-occurrence or vocalization of medial /l/ and occurrence of final /n/
shaw 'show' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/
snaw-baws 'snowballs' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/ and with non-occurrence or vocalization of final /l/ in 'balls'
bauld 'bold' suggesting a pronunciation with /au/ or /ɑ/
hale 'whole' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
brak 'broke' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
thrave 'throve' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
strave 'strove' suggesting a pronunciation with /e/
tald 'told' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
saw 'sow' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɑ/
bord 'board' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɔ/
sla-thorn 'sloe-thorn' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
owre 'over' suggesting a pronunciation with /au/ and non-occurrence of medial /v/
ithers 'others' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
sin 'sun' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
bit 'but' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
rin 'run' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
cou'd, cud 'could' suggesting a pronunciation with /ʌ/; the indicated non-occurrence or vocalization of medial /l/ is perhaps merely a diacritic
wad, wadna 'would, would not' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ and with non-occurrence of final /t/ in not
beuk 'book' suggesting a pronunciation with /yu/
muir suggesting a pronunciation with /yu/
sud 'should' suggesting a pronunciation with /ʌ/ and with an initial /s/ instead of /ʃ/
pit 'put' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
bouse, bous't 'boozed' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/ and final /t/ instead of /d/
guid 'good' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɪ/
hoose 'house' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/
fand 'found' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
pouther, pouther't 'powder, powdered' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/, with medial /th/ instead of /d/ and with final /t/
doon 'down' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/
doonright 'downright' suggesting a pronunciation with /u/
Airlan' 'Ireland' suggesting a pronunciation with /ɛr/ and nonoccurrence of final /d/
slee, sleely 'sly, slyly' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
e'e 'eye' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/
dee, deein' 'die, dying' suggesting a pronunciation with /i/ and occurrence of final /n/
wark 'work' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
warst 'worst' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/
warl 'world' suggesting a pronunciation with /a/ and non-occurrence of final /d/
brust 'burst' suggesting a pronunciation with /ʌ/ and indicating that metathesis occurs in this word
misca' 'miscall', fiels 'fields', chiel ' 'child', frien's 'friends', an' 'and', bin's 'binds', han's 'hands', boatfu's 'boatfuls', bolefu's 'bolefuls'; en's 'ends', sen's 'sends', min's 'minds', hoise 'hoist', ca't 'called' roun' 'round', houn's 'hounds', wi' 'with', men' 'mend', warmin' 'warming', lyin ' 'lying', lea 'leave', behin' 'behind', werena 'were not', wa' 'wall', wa'-stead 'wallstead', warl' 'world', row 'roll', saut 'salt', o ' 'of', ha'f 'half', dreadfu', 'dreadful', fause 'false', faut 'fault', soger 'soldier', snaw-baws 'snowballs': all these provide evidence of non-occurrence of a final consonant or of vocalization of /l/.
Hae 'have', ne'er 'never', e'er 'ever', gies 'gives', lo'esome 'lovesome', ser't 'served', co'ers 'covers', deels 'devils', sillar 'silver', hin'-hairst 'hind-harvest' indicate nonoccurrence of medial /v/.
Claes 'clothes' indicates non-occurrence of medial /ð/.
Tase 'taste', plun'ers 'plunders', hun'ers 'hundreds', har'ly 'hardly', wan'er 'wander', yon'ers 'yonder is', frien'ship 'friendship', wan'rers 'wanderers', and hairbreath 'hairbreadth' all suggest non-occurrence of medial /t/ or /d/.
Brust(in') 'burst(ing)', gingebread 'gingerbread', pa'snips 'parsnips' suggest metathesis or non-occurrence of post-vocalic /r/.
Conversely, thristle 'thistle' indicates intrusive /r/.
Metathesis of Old English <sc> explains the spellings of 'ask' as ax.
Orr's spellings wiss 'wish', and Slimiss 'Slemish' suggest the substitution of /s/ for /ʃ/, and leash 'lease' suggests use of final /ʃ/ in place of /s/.
Pouther('t), 'powder(ed)' probably indicates use of medial /d/.
Orr's respellings provide evidence of /x/ preserved in words such as leugh 'laugh', straught 'straight', staughers 'staggers', laigh 'low', licht 'light', nicher and cleighrin'.
Apparently proverbial or habitually collocated phrases and idioms in Orr.
Wha wad hae belled the cat awee
my inner man
I ledge we'd fen
chow the fat o', meaning 'talk over'
play'd the weary
biggin' castles in the air (italicized)
the fiddler's acre (in inverted commas)
blessed be the Maker! (an exclamation apparently used after praising someone's children)
haud up the mirror to the times (in inverted commas)
workin' sair days-dark on't
I wadna gie for a' Braidislan' tythe
deel tak ...
gif bowls row right, meaning 'if things work out right'
bandied frae post tae pillar
wise men o' Gotham
I'd beg my bread through Airlan'
the guid auld rule, 'first come, first ser't'
twa three like that will wreck her
at ance baith pray an' watch
the wheel o' chance revolv'd
rise not on empty goblet (in inverted commas)
had ay a hearty fill
an' eat the bread o' care
habit like a bough by force held straight, Sprang till its ain auld thraw
fair fa' ye
I'll swear by jing!
deel brust him!
(1) Ó Ciosáin, Niall, 'Printed Popular Literature in Irish 1750-1850: Presence and Absence', in Daly, Mary, and David Dickson (eds.), The Origins of Popular Literacy in Ireland: Language Change and Educational Development 1700-1920 (Dublin, 1990), 45-72; Ó Ciosáin, Niall, Print and Popular Culture in Ireland 1750-1850 (New York, 1997), in which more general conclusions about the rôle of printing are discussed.
(2) Orr, James, Poems on Various Subjects (Belfast, 1804) and The Posthumous Works of James Orr of Ballycarry: with a Sketch of his Life (Belfast, 1817), reprinted in one volume (Belfast, 1935), 282.
(3) Kirkham, Graeme, 'Literacy in North-West Ulster 1680-1860', in Daly, Mary, and David Dickson (eds.), The Origins of Popular Literacy in Ireland: Language Change and Educational Development 1700-1920 (Dublin, 1990), 80.
(4) Linda Lunny [sic], 'Knowledge and Enlightenment: Attitudes to Education in Early Nineteenth-Century Ulster', in Daly, Mary, and David Dickson (eds.), The Origins of Popular Literacy in Ireland: Language Change and Educational Development 1700-1920 (Dublin, 1990), 97-112.
(5) Orr quotes from, or indicates some knowledge of, Thomas Campbell, James Thomson, Robert Heron, Robert Burns, Goethe's Werner, Sappho, the Bible and Apocalypse, Shakespeare, Isaac Watts, Alexander Pope, MacPherson's Ossian, Edward Young, Isaac Newton, John Locke, William Robertson, John Tillotson, Francis Atterbury, Michael Bruce, Oliver Goldsmith, Robert Fergusson, David Garrick, Thomas Gray, Henry Brooke, John William Fletcher, Cicero, John Milton, Laurence Sterne, William Cowper, Sir John Denham, Sydney Owenson, David Hume, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Gibbon, Francis Bacon, Sir Matthew Hale, Thomas Erskine, John P. Curran, John Home, the Belfast Commercial Chronicle, some version of a life of Alexander Selkirk and Michel de Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer. He quotes most often from Burns, Young, Shakespeare, Goldsmith, the Bible, Pope, Hume, Ossian and Gray. The quotation is from 'A Sketch of a Ramble to Antrim', Belfast Monthly Magazine, July 1809, 422.
(6) Orr, James, 'Elegy Written in the Ruins of a Country Schoolhouse', op. cit. (1935), 284.
(7) MS 7257 in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. The author is grateful to the Board of Trinity College, Dublin, for permission to quote from this manuscript.
(8) Ibid., p. 78.
(9) Graham, J., 'Parish of Maghera' in Mason, W. S. (ed.), A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland ... , vol. 1 (Dublin, 1816), 594; Joy, H., Northern Star, 10 November 1794.
(10) 'Monthly Retrospect of Politics', Belfast Monthly Magazine, July 1812.
(11) Orr, James, 'Elegy on the Death of Mr. Robert Burns, the Ayrshire Poet', op. cit. (1935), 29.
(13) Orr, James, 'Man was Made to Smile', op. cit. (1935), 201.
(14) Orr, James, 'The Penitent', op. cit. (1935), 178-179.
(15) Ibid., 178.
(16) Orr, James, 'The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial', op. cit. (1935), 264.
(17) Ibid., 262.
(18) Ibid., 265.
(19) Ibid., 263.
(20) Orr, James, 'The Assizes', op. cit. (1935), 300.
(21) Orr, James, 'Ballycarry Fair', op. cit. (1935), 156.
(22) Orr, James, 'Lines Presented to a Gentleman by the Author, with His Own Poems', op. cit. (1935), 293.
(23) Orr, James, 'The Passengers', op. cit. (1935), 140.
(24) Orr, James, 'The Reading Society', op. cit. (1935), 274.
(25) Hewitt, John, The Rhyming Weavers and Other Country Poets of Antrim and Down (Belfast, 1974), 1.
(26) Orr, James, 'Epistle to N—— P——, Oldmill', op. cit. (1935), 80.
(27) McDowell, A., 'Sketch of the Author's Life', prefixed to 1817 volume, op. cit. (1935), 187.
(28) Scott, Ernest McA., and Philip Robinson (eds.), The Country Rhymes of Samuel Thomson The Bard of Carngranny 1766-1816 (Bangor, 1992), ix.
(29) Hewitt, John, op. cit. (1974), 5.
(30) Burns, Robert, 'On the Late Captain Grose's Peregrinations thro' Scotland ...' in Kinsley, James (ed.), Burns Poems and Songs (Oxford, 1969), 392.
(31) Orr, James, 'The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial', op. cit. (1935), 261.
(32) Wordsworth, William, 'Preface, Lyrical Ballads', 2nd edition, The Norton Anthology of English Literature (New York, 1968), 107.
(33) Orr, James, 'The Passengers', op. cit. (1935), 139.
(34) Ó Ciosáin, Niall, op. cit. (1997).
(35) Ong, Walter J., Interfaces of the Word. Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture (Ithaca, 1977), 207, quoted by Rollison, David, The Local Origins of Modern Society. Gloucestershire 1500-1800 (London, 1992), 14.
(36) Adams, A., and J. R. R. Adams (eds.), The Country Rhymes of Hugh Porter the Bard of Moneyslane born c. 1780 (Bangor, 1992), xxix.
(37) Orr, James, 'Epistle to S. Thomson of Carngranny A Brother Poet', op. cit. (1935), 124; Robinson, Philip, Ulster-Scots. A Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language (Belfast, 1997) deals with the principles and practice of the spelling of Ulster-Scots in more detail than can be attempted here.
(38) Orr, James, 'Song, Written in Winter', op. cit. (1935), 163.
(39) Ong, Walter J., quoted by Rollison, op. cit. 14.
(40) Orr, James, 'Lambert an Elegiac Ode', op. cit. (1935), 44.
(41) Rollison, op. cit., 7-9, 152-153.
(42) Orr, James, 'The Penitent', op. cit. (1935), 177, 179.
(43) Orr, James, 'Tea', op.cit. (1935), 62.
(44) Orr, James, 'Elegy Written in the Churchyard of Templecorran'; 'The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial', op.cit. (1935), 130, 265.
(45) Orr, James, op. cit. (1817).