Introduction to Alexander Wilson, Poems, Literary Prose, and Journalism (by Michael Ziser)

An Electronic Edition · Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), Ziser, Michael

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Poems, Literary Prose, and Journalism of Alexander Wilson


Michael Ziser



Over the course of a life shaped by economic and political upheaval and curtailed by poverty and illness, Alexander Wilson fashioned himself from a manual laborer into a popular poet and then into one of the pre-eminent men of science, art, and letters in the early American republic. Most famous today for his nine-volume work on American birds (The American Ornithology, 1808-1813), a monumental achievement that has led many historians to call him “the father” of the long and deep tradition of American ornithology, Wilson as a young man also played a unique and significant supporting role in the development of Scottish literary culture at the end of the eighteenth century. Considered in isolation, each of Wilson’s two careers deserves (and has attracted) careful consideration by specialists in Scottish Studies, literary history, labor history, and the history of science. Conjoined as they are in his life—consider the continuities, for example, between his early stint as a peddler around Paisley and his scientific and literary travelogues in the service of American natural history—they yield even more valuable insight into the character and fate of Scottish nationalism and the origins and aims of early national science in the U. S. His transatlantic body of poetry, journalism, and science draw together strands of folk poetry, democratic advocacy, and love of the Scottish and American landscapes like no other figure of his era.

Wilson was born to Alexander (“Saunders”) Wilson and Mary M’Nab, both of whom were struggling to leave behind their families’ traditional professions of illicit distilling and smuggling of goods from Britain’s overseas colonies into the domestic market. The trade in silk gauze, over which Paisley held the monopoly, was booming in the 1760s and early 1770s, and the elder Wilson went to work as weaver in one of the many “mills” (usually a shed with a loom or two) in Paisley and neighboring towns. Weaving was well-paid work at the time, with average wages roughly triple those of a tradesman and more than twenty times those of a domestic servant, and during Alexander’s childhood the Wilson family enjoyed a materially comfortable existence. This economic stability translated into cultural and intellectual refinement, notably through the many weavers’ societies that formed to discuss fields of common interest (particularly literature, politics, natural history, and outdoors pursuits) and build libraries and other infrastructure of civil society. Little “Sandy” or “Sannie,” the youngest of five children, spent his days rambling through the countryside, swimming and fishing in the River Cart, and training for a life in the church ministry at the Paisley Grammar School. Among his closest schoolboy friends were relatives of Reverend Dr. John Witherspoon, the foremost Presbyterian minister in the country, a well-known advocate for democratic reform in the Church of Scotland, and later the president of Princeton College (then the College of New Jersey) and a signer of the American Declaration of Independence. Reverend Witherspoon had been induced to leave Scotland in 1767 in part by a series of humiliating experiences with the legal system, where he lost a libel suit brought against him by local young men whom he had denounced from the pulpit and in the press for participating in an antireligious prank. Moral, political, and economic changes had begun to undermine the church’s authority within Scottish society, and Wilson’s own career far from the seminary would eventually bear witness to all of these shifts. The association with the Witherspoons was also the first of many indications that Wilson’s fate was linked to America. His tenth birthday was marked by the death of his mother and by the signing of the Declaration of Independence, both of which in the short term led to a steep drop in his fortunes. The beginning of the war interrupted trade with the colonies, and the Paisley silk weavers suffered from the loss of their most dependable customers. Wilson’s father, who had quickly remarried a widow and was now saddled with eight children, pulled Alexander out of school and sent him to work as a cowherd on a farm ten miles from town. The three years of lonely work in uninhabited fields around Beith gave the young Wilson ample time to read, daydream, and hunt, and sharpened his practical and literary attachments to the natural landscape and its wild inhabitants.

In the summer of 1779, Wilson was indentured as an apprentice in the weaving shed of his brother-in-law, William Duncan, in his first formal initiation into a profession he would come to loathe. A stanza written on the back of his indenture papers sheds some light on the regime of repetitive manual labor and corporal punishment that characterized his teen years.

Be’t kent to a’ the warld, in rhyme,

That wi’ right meikle wark an’ toil,

For three lang years I’ve ser’t my time.

Whiles feasted wi’ the hazel oil.

August, 1782

As soon as his three-year contractual obligation was fulfilled, Wilson rejoined his father’s new family, who were now living in the ruins of the ancient Tower of Auchinbathie (once home to William Wallace) and had taken up their old livelihoods of smuggling and distilling. Throughout the 1780s, Wilson continued his self-education while he worked as a journeyman weaver in shops around Renfrewshire, first in the small town of Lochwinnoch and then back in Paisley. In Paisley, Wilson had the good fortune to work alongside David Brodie, a good-humored young man interested, like Wilson, in educating himself to the end of escaping the loom for good. Brodie proved a valuable conversation partner for Wilson, and he was among the first to encourage Wilson’s attempts at poetry writing. Wilson eventually returned to the employ of his brother-in-law and former master, William Duncan, this time less as a weaver than as a peddler carrying woven goods to customers throughout the Scottish countryside. These long rambles allowed Wilson to indulge his interest in the various personalities of rural Scotland, and he often made side trips to learn from the local botanists, poets, and musicians. The spirit of these expeditions is preserved in Wilson’s “Journal as a Pedlar,” a prose piece included in his first book of poems and an important harbinger of the socially and scientifically sensitive travel narratives to come.

Wilson’s earliest poetic influences were Milton and Pope, whose works he committed to memory and imitated in the largely derivative verse of his youth. The lugubrious work of the “Graveyard Poets”—Robert Blair, Edward Young, and Thomas Gray in particular—left its mark on many of his early reflections on mortality and perhaps induced him to add to his large collection of grave rubbings on his peddling trips. Later he studied Oliver Goldsmith’s poetry closely, one indication of a growing interest in village themes. The greatest influence on Wilson, however, was the 1786 publication of Robert Burns’s Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. The example of Burns encouraged the use of Scottish diction and native subject matter, and soon an entire generation of Scottish poets were finding a new means of expressing not only their native tongue but also their native experiences, relatively free from translation into the forms and conventions of English precursors. Paisley came to be a particular center of this literary explosion, and Wilson stood amidst other local talents—John Robertson, Alexander Tait, Thomas Crichton, George MacIndoe, William Finlayson, James Yool, John MacGregor, David Webster, John Mitchell, Alexander Borland, John Wilson, Gavin Turnbull, James Scadlock, William M’Laren, and Robert Tannahill—in the growing throng of Paisley poets. [1] In addition to witnessing the publication of Burns’s Poems, 1786 marked the near total collapse of the silk industry. As fashions changed, many of the looms in Paisley switched to producing linen, but the independent weavers in surrounding towns who had once supplied Paisley with piece-work were cut off from virtually their entire income. The first major industrial strikes in the weaving industry occurred in Glasgow the following year. Wilson’s unusual poetic focus on not only the agrarian and village scenes of Burns’s poetry but also the quasi-urban intrigues of Paisley and its weaving sheds stands as some of the earliest insider literary treatments of eighteenth-century industrial upheaval. Combining conventional regard for the countryside with evident approval of the mechanization then sweeping over the mill towns, Wilson would frequently return to a vision of rural industry as the ideal economic arrangement.

During the late 1780s, Wilson continued to weave, work as a peddler, and compose poetry. He approached Thomas Crichton, Paisley’s acknowledged leading man of letters, with a manuscript collection of poetry. Crichton was deeply impressed with Wilson’s talent and recommended him to local printer John Neilson. In 1790, Wilson arranged for Neilson to print 700 copies of his first book, entitled simply Poems, complete with an engraving of the Battle of Largs as the frontispiece, hoping to sell them by subscription along his peddling route in the countryside. This volume is evenly divided between poems written in standard poetic English and those written in the Scottish dialect. For the most part, the English poems hewed very close to the originals they imitated: the elegies of Thomas Gray, the seasonal poems of James Thomson, the rural verse of William Cowper and Oliver Goldsmith, Alexander Pope’s verse epistles, and the pastoral odes of Milton and William Collins. In other cases Wilson seems a harbinger of literary events to come. “Hardyknute; or, The Battle of Largs” mines Scottish history for epic subject matter as Sir Walter Scott would later do in prose. Both “Thunder-storm” and “Lines Written on a Summer’s Evening,” in which the author “feels emotions words can ne’er express” in the presence of a sublime natural landscape, can be seen as faint precursors of Wordsworth emanating from the same eighteenth-century roots. Wilson did manage to break free of English classical tradition at a few points. “Lochwinnoch,” a descriptive poem about a town near Paisley, proceeds largely according to pastoral conventions, but mixed in among the swains are unprecedented and positive descriptions of contemporary industry from a man who knew the value of labor-saving machinery:

Wheels turning wheels in mystic throngs appear,

to twist the thread or tortur’s cotton tear,

While toiling wenches songs delight the list’ning ear.

One other poem, “Address to Calder Banks,” reveals Wilson’s more conventionally Romantic attraction to unstoried wilderness. “Strayed e’er a bard along this hermit shore?” the poet asks the remote brook:

Alas! Methinks the weeping rocks around,

And the lone stream, that murmurs far below;

And trees and caves, with solemn hollow sound,

Breathe out one mournful melancholy ‘No.’

The Scottish poems in this first collection are considerably more personal. Many are epistolary addresses to friends and patrons in and around Paisley, a crucial nexus in the 1790s Scottish literary world. Others cast in verse local events and scandals. “Elegy on the Long-Expected Death of a Wretched Miser,” for example, tells the sordid tale of the marriage of 75-year old John Craig, an unloved local landlord, to the unscrupulous 15-year old Meg Duncan (who may have had a sexual relationship with Wilson as well). A small number of moral fables drawn from local experiences give some indication of Wilson’s sensitivity to the ethical questions surrounding human labor in the natural world. “Verses on Seeing Two Men Sawing Timber,” for instance, warns against attempting to defy the power of nature. “Rabby’s Mistake,” about a relentless hunter who accidentally kills his own sow, argues for restraint in light of the fact that “short is the far’est fouk can see.” Many of the remaining poems in the volume—in particular “The Pack,” “Daybreak,” “Achtertool”—are complaints about the impoverished and difficult life of the weaver and peddler, which grew ever more chafing to Wilson over the 1780s. Donald Craig marks Wilson as a particularly good example of the “dependent workman” who made his way into Scottish poetry after the economic collapse of the 1780s and 90s (89-90). The only bird poem in this earliest collection, “The Disconsolate Wren,” is a transcription of a wren’s lament at the loss of her brood when their nest fell to earth. It reveals a sympathetic Wilson steeped in bird lore but as yet without much ornithological knowledge.

Because the economic trouble had penetrated into the Scottish countryside in the 1790s, Wilson found it exceedingly difficult to gain new subscriptions to his book and even to peddle his manufactured goods. In debt to his printer and supplier and with little hope of emancipation from the loom, Wilson fell into a depression and serious physical illness. Wilson’s fortunes soon took several turns for the better. He acquired a patron in William M’Dowell, heir to a large sugar-plantation fortune and resident of Semple Castle in Lochwinnoch. Even more encouraging was the acclaim that came to Wilson after his performance in an Edinburgh contest in oratory. Wilson’s address, later printed as “The Laurel Disputed,” defended the merits of Robert “Rab” Fergusson, who wrote in the Scottish vernacular and had been a major influence on Robert Burns. Soon after his appearance in Edinburgh literary society, material he had previously submitted to The Bee, a high profile magazine edited by James Anderson, was published. “The Solitary Philosopher,” which sketches the life of an untutored hermit of “universal genius…at once by nature botanist, philosopher, naturalist, and physician” who is able to draw morals from the “common occurrences of nature,” appeared in 1791. Having gained a measure of notoriety in the capital, Wilson arranged to have the unsold copies of his 1790 collection reissued with a few changes in a new edition, which were soon sold out.

Taking his cue from the homespun vernacular realism of Fergusson and Burns, especially the latter’s “Tam o’ Shanter,” Wilson next wrote what would become his most popular poem. “Watty and Meg” tells the story of a shrewish wife whose husband threatens to enlist in the army to escape her nagging. The poem eventually sold over 100,000 copies, though Wilson himself saw little profit from its success beyond the retirement of his printing debts. Frequently reprinted throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, “Watty and Meg” was often attributed to Robert Burns himself. Upon hearing the poem ascribed to him by a ballad-crier, Burns is reported to have shouted “that’s a damned lie! But I would have been very proud to have acknowledged it.” [2] Wilson eventually republished this poem nearly twenty years later in an American periodical.

In the midst of his growing literary reputation, Wilson remained something of a heroic defender of his colleagues in the weaver’s unions around Paisley. In 1790, Wilson had written, printed (via John Nielson), and anonymously posted three satirical handbills around the weaving sheds of Paisley. One of these, “The Insulted Pedlar,” depicted a dispute about property rights in the form of dialogue between a peddler defecating in the woods and a property manager bent on turning him away. Another, “Hab’s Door,” mocks a local silk-buyer notorious for nitpicking weavers’ products in order to justify a lower price. The third, “The Hollander, Or Light Weight,” was a thinly-veiled and caustic attack on Paisley silk manufacturer William Henry. The poem accuses Henry of cheating his laborers out of their rightful pay. Mindful of revolutionary events in France and concerned about unrest in his factories, Henry eventually lodged charges of libel and incitement to unrest against Wilson. For unknown reasons, these charges were later withdrawn, but not before Wilson had made a name for himself as a rabble-rousing, working-class poet at a time when the industrial order was just coming into being.

In May of 1792, just as his prospects were brightening, Wilson committed a lapse of judgment that landed him in jail and eventually forced him to leave Scotland forever. Wilson had become involved in political activities, perhaps even having a hand in the composition of a call for Scottish constitutional reform modeled after Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791) that was published in The Glasgow Advertiser on 8 February 1793. His pseudonymously published “Address to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr” (1792) took explicit aim at the Church of Scotland’s complicity in the state suppression of Paine and his many sympathizers. At the same time, he apparently resumed his attacks on corrupt silk manufacturers in Paisley with the composition of “The Shark; Or Lang Mills Detected.” This time his target was William Sharp and the charge was the shortchanging of mill workers paid by the piece. Perhaps at the urging of local reformers James and William Mitchell, Wilson took the wholly uncharacteristic step of using the inflammatory poem to extort money from Sharp. Sharp retaliated with a legal complaint, and the next two years of Wilson’s life were spent in the courts and jails of Paisley. Though Wilson was fined, jailed, and forced publicly to burn the remaining copies of “The Shark,” he was much more fortunate than some other Scottish reformers of his day, many of whom were more seriously harassed by legal authorities, often brought up on dubious charges of sedition and exiled to penal colonies. [3] After several subsequent tangles with the law over his participation in reformist activities, including additional jail time for the distribution of the Glasgow Advertiser call, Wilson resolved to protect himself and the friends and family members who had signed bonds for him over the previous two years. After writing one final anonymous attack on British anti-republicanism (“The Tears of Britain”), Wilson set sail from Belfast to Philadelphia in late May of 1794 together with a young cousin, William Duncan. Their path away from Scotland reversed the Chesapeake-to-Glasgow smuggling routes that had sustained the Wilson and Duncan families for generations.

Because of the 1793-4 yellow fever epidemic, all ships bound for Philadelphia were required to unload at Newcastle on the shores of the Delaware. After disembarking and looking in vain for work in Wilmington weaving shops, Wilson and Duncan continued by foot to Philadelphia. The thirty-five mile walk to America’s then-capital city was Wilson’s first introduction to the American landscape, and it happened to coincide with the period of highest activity among resident birds and spring migrants on the Atlantic flyway. Wilson took his first specimen on this journey, a brilliant Red-headed Woodpecker.

After brief stints in engraving and weaving shops and an unsuccessful venture to Virginia, Wilson took up his peddler’s pack once again and made a tour of New Jersey that left him richer both in money and in knowledge about American society and natural history. His journal from this period, an extension of his Scottish journal and a forerunner of his later travel reports, has been lost. In 1796 Wilson settled in Milestown, Pennsylvania and began a new career as a schoolmaster, staying up late to keep one lesson ahead of his pupils. During the five years he stayed in Milestown, Wilson also helped his cousin establish a farm near Ovid, New York, to which other family members could emigrate from Scotland (see “Poetical Letter to William Duncan”). His writings and letters from this time period are sparse and deal with just two main subjects: the hardships of life as schoolmaster (“The Solitary Tutor,” “The Domini”), and Republican politics and the election of 1800 (“Jefferson and Liberty,” “Oration on the Power and Value of National Liberty,” “The Aristocrat’s War-Whoop”).

His time in Milestown came to an abrupt and mysterious end in 1801, when Wilson fled in anticipation of a scandal (which never materialized) over a love affair with either a married woman of the town or a student in his school. [4] He took up a brief post as a teacher in Bloomfield, New Jersey, before returning to Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, he found his way to a new post at the Union School in Gray’s Ferry outside the city. The foremost naturalist of the day, William Bartram, lived and kept his famous garden nearby, a fortuitous circumstance that allowed Wilson to undertake his great ornithological work.

The precise point at which Wilson resolved to catalog the birds of America is not clear. He had apparently begun to admire them as soon as he arrived in the country, perhaps beginning a more systematic study during his tenure as schoolmaster in Milestown. It was only in Gray’s Ferry, however, that Wilson let his interest be publicly known. At first he enlisted the aid of his students in collecting specimens for examination, even keeping a number of live animals (including a hummingbird and a woodpecker) for study. Later he approached William Bartram, a major authority on matters ornithological as well as botanical, for information about bird names and guidance with bird illustration, which Wilson was teaching himself nights with the help of a small owl he had stuffed and mounted for the purpose. Bartram’s romantic view of nature and sensitivity to the living animal in its native habitat reinforced Wilson’s own predisposition, and under Bartram’s tutelage Wilson soon became the unrivalled master of bird observation in America. He often astonished visitors, for instance, with his ability to mimic the calls and songs of almost all eastern North American birds. It is this kind of intimacy with the living creature that accounts for Wilson’s continued popularity among readers and bird lovers.

Wilson’s first explicit birding trip, a 1200 mile journey via the family farm in Ovid to Niagara Falls, was modeled on Bartram’s own famous expeditions to the South. Wilson chose to document his trip, undertaken with William Duncan and Isaac Leech, not in prose but in a painstakingly-detailed poem, The Foresters, that was eventually published in installments in The Port Folio magazine. The experience Wilson had acquired during his periods of itinerant salesmanship in Scotland and New Jersey served him well on this trip, and his 2,200 line poem—unexampled elsewhere in American literature—is crammed with the details of social life and natural history gleaned along his route, as in this early description of a country tavern just outside Philadelphia:

Here two long rows of market folks were seen,

Ranged front to front, the table placed between,

Where bags of meat and bones, and crusts of bread,

And hunks of bacon all around were spread;

One pint of beer from lip to lip went round,

And scarce a crumb the hungry house-dog found;

Torrents of Dutch from every quarter came,

Pigs, calves, and saur-craut the important theme;

While we, on future plans revolving deep,

Discharged our bill, and straight retired to sleep.

Back at Gray’s Ferry after completing his trip, Wilson circulated the bird drawings he had made on his Niagara trip among interested naturalists. One of these was President Jefferson, whom Wilson pressed in vain for a position on the Pike expedition to the Red River country of what is now Oklahoma. Disappointed in that attempt, of which Jefferson later said he had no memory, Wilson was nevertheless honored with the responsibility of describing and painting the few bird specimens from the Lewis and Clark expedition that had survived the return trip. Around this time the publishing house of Bradford and Inskeep hired Wilson as an assistant editor for natural sciences on Ree’s New Cyclopaedia. The generous salary allowed Wilson to quit his post at the Union School and move to Philadelphia. More than that, he found in Samuel Bradford a publisher with both the technical capability and the enthusiasm to publish his grand American Ornithology, which he projected at ten volumes illustrated with ten hand-colored engravings each. Bradford agreed to publish 200 sets of the series provided that Wilson could come up with 200 subscribers.

Wilson’s first thought was to assess interest in the project before any work on the publication itself had been completed. With his ornithological notes and a hastily cut and colored plate of illustrations under his arm, he set out on a trip to New York City to canvas for subscriptions. There he had limited success, gaining pledges only from the faculty of King’s College (later Columbia University) and from steamboat inventor and operator Robert Fulton (a fellow Scot). A similar trip to Albany came up completely dry. Wilson’s devotion to his cause might have stumbled at this point, had he not found a subscription order from his idol President Jefferson awaiting him in Philadelphia upon his return. From this date forward, nearly all of Wilson’s waking hours were consumed in bringing his grand project to fruition.

A sense of the sheer magnitude of work Wilson accomplished over the last five years of his life can be gained by comparing his pace with that of Mark Catesby, whose Natural History of the Carolinas required 35 years to complete, and of Audubon, whose Birds of America was the product of 25 years of pre-publication work. Wilson by contrast spent no more than three and a half years of concentrated effort on his massive compendium, despite the need for him to conduct field research, consult other naturalists, sketch and paint specimens, compose and edit the text, supervise the engraving, and even perform some of the coloring of the plates himself. In his last five years, he combined five long birding and canvassing expeditions to areas stretching from Maine to Georgia with visits to knowledgeable naturalists up and down the seacoast and along the Mississippi Valley. In between these busy trips he worked long hours in Philadelphia carefully revising his verbal accounts, tending to the visual images, and resolving the financial problems associated with so large an undertaking.

In late 1807 and through most of 1808, however, Wilson’s immediate concern was to complete the first volume of his series in preparation for a more ambitious capital-raising trip. For nearly a year Wilson labored to master the many skills needed to produce an illustrated and hand-colored volume excellent enough to persuade institutions and individuals to pledge the $120 ($12 per volume) price and allow him to incur further travel and publishing expenses. The result fulfilled its promise of scientific thoroughness and painterly precision, to which was added the considerable bonus of Wilson’s first-hand, folksy, and loving writing about birds. In September the first volume was finally ready, and within a fortnight Wilson departed on a scientific, artistic, and commercial tour on a scale far larger than the peddling trips of his youth. His first foray with the completed first volume was to Princeton, where he found no willing subscribers, and thence to New York, where he had more success, gaining the pledges of Federalist Rufus King, Bishop Benjamin Moore, Rev. John Mitchell Mason, polymath Dr. David Hosack, and, most significantly, Samuel Latham Mitchill, the pre-eminent American scientist of the period. (Tom Paine, whom Wilson had celebrated in his youthful verse, also signed up.) The remainder of his trip through New England yielded a total of 41 subscriptions, many of them from denizens of the hinterlands rather than the metropolis of Boston, where Wilson was received coldly.

Wilson’s hopes were dampened at the first stop of his next expedition, this one on horseback through the southern states. In Maryland, he was able to enter a resolution in the legislature for the purchase of his work, but it was unanimously rejected by the lawmakers, including the original sponsor. Inquiries in other corners of polite Annapolis society likewise yielded meager results. As in New England, however, the professional and mercantile classes evinced a much greater interest. In Washington, Wilson met with Thomas Jefferson, who had already subscribed in response to a printed advertisement. Their meeting was brief and superficial, but Jefferson was extremely enthusiastic about the project, and in the wake of their meeting Wilson had a much easier time finding willing buyers throughout the capital, Virginia, and North Carolina. While traveling in the latter state, he captured alive an ivory-billed woodpecker, the famed “Lord God Bird” presumed extinct since the 1930s and only recently (and controversially) rediscovered, nursing it and keeping it with him in the country inns where he boarded. Stopping in Charleston, he met with enormous success, emerging from the city with a total of more than 125 subscriptions. From there, he continued to Georgia, spending considerable time at the estate of the amateur naturalist Stephen Elliot along the Ogeechee river. Here at last he met the brilliant though obscure painter and naturalist John Abbot, to whose existence Jefferson had first alerted him. Abbot supplied Wilson with a wealth of knowledge of southern birds as well as numerous specimens; in return, Wilson paid him better than he had ever received from his naturalist patrons in England and made certain to credit him in the text of the American Ornithology.

Returning again to Philadelphia, Wilson took time to complete his essays on the hummingbird and the mockingbird, two of the most common and beloved birds of the eastern seaboard. At the same time, he agreed to complete his long poem, The Foresters, for publication in The Port Folio. Despite the regional and national tumult surrounding the exposure of General Wilkinson as a Spanish spy and the death of Meriwether Lewis, then governor of the Louisiana Territory, Wilson the resolved to travel by river through the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. After stopping in towns throughout central Pennsylvania on his way to Pittsburgh, he purchased a rowboat—christened “The Ornithologist”—and set out as soon as the ice broke on the Allegheny river. Reaching Louisville after a three-week float, Wilson attempted to sell subscriptions before setting out on the rest of his voyage. It was here that he had his famous meeting with John James Audubon, who defensively mischaracterized it in a recollection many years later as a discouraging (to Wilson) encounter with a superior artist and naturalist. In fact, Audubon had little grounds at this point in his career to claim precedence over Wilson; quite the contrary, he was likely motivated by Wilson’s success to eventually pursue his own even grander aesthetic natural history projects.

From Louisville, he set out by foot towards Nashville. Near Shelbyville, Wilson encountered the phenomenal flocks of passenger pigeons that stretched across the sky for miles and destroyed the woodlands where they came to roost. By a careful calculation, Wilson estimated the population of one massive flock at around 2 billion birds. Arriving at last in Nashville after more than a hundred-mile journey in unsettled territory, Wilson quickly set out again to travel southward along the Natchez Trace, an ancient aboriginal trading highway improved further a few years prior on Jefferson’s order. Stopping at Grinder’s Stand, one of the primitive inns for travelers and the site of Meriwether Lewis’s apparent suicide, Wilson took the time to interview and record the accounts of witnesses to the Governor’s last days, particularly the story of the innkeeper, Mrs. Grinder. Wilson’s detailed account, published in The Port Folio, is the only historical source of information on Lewis’s strange demise.

Upon reaching Natchez, Wilson was invited to the “Forest,” the plantation of prosperous Indian trader, planter, scientist, and Scotsman William Dunbar. The generosity of the Dunbar family allowed Wilson some time to recuperate from his hard journey and to investigate the bird life of the Mississippi bayous. Dunbar’s knowledge of native lore concerning the plants and animals of the region gave Wilson an additional insight into the natural history of the region, and his essays in the American Ornithology after this date begin to show a greater engagement with indigenous knowledge. Dunbar also introduced Wilson to a variety of scientifically-minded Mississippians, who hosted him as he continued southward. Upon reaching New Orleans he received a hero’s welcome and a large batch of new subscribers from all ranks of society, and he began his return by sail to New York greatly pleased with the scientific and business success of his six-month expedition.

Apart from a few short trips to the New Jersey coast and the northern New England border with Canada (where he was arrested and briefly detained as an English spy), Wilson spent all of his time locked in his rented room seeing to the completion of the remaining volumes of his work. At last attaining the highest degree of respect from the Philadelphia scientific and cultural establishment, Wilson was inducted into both the American Philosophical Society and the Columbian Society. Just as the financial and social rewards of his long toil were about to be realized, Wilson took ill and died of dysentery on 23 October 1813, at the age of 47. The ninth (and last) volume of The American Ornithology was completed under the direction of Wilson’s associate and first biographer, George Ord. [5]

Despite its premature conclusion, Wilson’s grand career had a major impact on the natural science of both the United States and Europe. His work presented 264 of the 343 species of birds now believed to have existed in the United States of his time period, 48 of them new to science. His technical life histories became the standard descriptions for 94 species well into the 19th century. The eminent French anatomist Cuvier credited Wilson with having “treated of American birds better than those of Europe have yet been treated.” Later scientists often concurred with the rigorous praise of ornithologist Elliot Coues that “no other work in ornithology of equal extent is equally free of error.” Such technical accuracy in both the visual renderings and the verbal descriptions set the American Ornithology apart from later 19th-century compendia, particularly the showy and sometimes sensationalist work in John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838), which explicitly consulted and tried to outdo Wilson’s work. Although Birds of America is in many ways a greater artistic achievement than Wilson’s American Ornithology, even by aesthetic criteria the latter sometimes shows to advantage. Wilson’s first-hand knowledge of avian behavior, his immersion in bird folk-knowledge, his sympathetic enthusiasm for his subjects, and of course his significant literary talents make reading his work an unusual experience combining edification, spiritual reflection, and sheer pleasure. Some of the best bird lyrics in early American letters are sprinkled throughout The American Ornithology (see especially the learned “Tyrant Fly-Catcher,” the folksy “Fish-Hawk,” and the bedazzled “Hummingbird”), and Wilson’s prose is likewise the most accomplished nature writing in the period. As an immigrant polymath working at the intersection of cutting-edge science, letters, and the arts, Alexander Wilson was unrivaled in 19th-century America.

[1]See Radical Renfrew: Poetry form the French Revolution to the First World War, ed. Tom Leonard (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990); Robert Brown, ed., Paisley Poets, 2 volumes (Paisley: J. & J. Cook, 1889); and William Motherwell, ed., The Harp of Renfrewshire (Paisley, 1819).

[2]Life and Works of Robert Burns, ed. P. Hately Waddell (Glasgow: Wilson, 1867) xxv.

[3]For details of the suppression of dissent after the publication of Paine’s Rights of Man in 1791 and again when his acquittal on charges of sedition was handed down in 1794, see John Barrell and Jon Mee, eds, Trials for Treason and Sedition, 1792–1794, 8 volumes (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2006-2007) and John Barrel, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

[4]Early biographers speculate that the love affair involved his landlady, Mrs. Isaac Kulp, but this is unlikely for a number of reasons. More probable is that Wilson had a relationship with one of his students. Sarah Miller, the 16-year old daughter of his friends and neighbors, is one possibility, though Wilson’s indiscretions were apparently not great enough to stand in the way of renewed intimacy with the Millers later in the decade. Wilson left his entire estate to Sarah, suggesting perhaps the depth of his affection for her. One other plausible candidate is Nancy De Benneville, daughter of Dr. George De Benneville and a student at the Milestown school during Wilson’s tenure. See Annie De Benneville Mears, The Old York Road and Its Early Associates of History and Biography (New York: Harper, 1890).

[5]Ord’s contribution to Wilson’s legacy is a mixed one, to say the least. A pedant by nature, Ord had little of Wilson’s taste for empirical study, preferring windy polemic to close observation. His tireless attacks on Audubon served mainly to position Wilson and Audubon in the public mind as antagonists rather than precursor and heir. Ord’s exceptionally lazy biography of Wilson certainly did the posthumous reputation of the latter no favors.

[6]The Canongate Burns, ed. Andrew Noble (Edinburgh: Canongate Classic, 2001) 845-851. The poem was first published from the Mosesfield Manuscript in Robert Chambers, eds., The Poetical Works of Robert Burns (Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers, 1839) IV.87.


I was helped significantly by funding provided by the University of California, Davis Committee on Research. Frank Egerton, with whom I have collaborated on a yet unpublished edition of Wilson’s American Ornithology, was of great assistance in collecting some of the secondary documents on which this edition is based. I am grateful to graduate assistants April Boyd, Jessica Howell, Kyle Pivetti, Julie Wilhlem, and Melissa Bender for shouldering some of the most tedious aspects of this editorial project. Key assistance was provided by the Bancroft Library, the Philadelphia Public Library, the Newberry Library, the United States Library of Congress, the Edinburgh University Library, the Paisley Museum, the Widener Library of Harvard University, the Harvard Musuem of Comparative Zoology, and the Shields Special Collections at the University of California, Davis.

Alexander Wilson Chronology

1766 Born July 6th at Paisley Abbey into a family of silk weavers and former smugglers and bootleggers. Christened four days later by the local minister, Dr. John Witherspoon, later president of Princeton University. Lives happily with his two siblings and parents for the first ten years of his life, attending Paisley Grammar School and wandering through the local woods as a self-described “bird of passage.”
1776 Mother dies, father remarries a widow with five children. The tumult resulting from the American Revolution damages the Paisley silk trade and causes widespread economic hardship. Wilson removed from school and sent to work as a cowherd on a farm ten miles out of town.
1779 Indentured as an apprentice for three years in his brother-in-law William Duncan’s weaving shop.
1780s Works as a journeyman weaver in shops around Paisley and as a peddler carrying goods from family looms throughout the Scottish countryside.
1790 Attacks the silk manufacturer William Henry for exploiting workers in his locally circulated poem, “The Hollander, or Light Weight.” On June 10th, a summons was taken out against Wilson for libel and incitement to criminal unrest. Publishes first book, Poems.
1791 Publishes “The Solitary Philosopher” in The Bee magazine. Wins acclaim in an oratory contest in Edinburgh before a crowd of 500 people. Reissues collected poems as Poems, Humorous, Satirical and Serious. Composes “Watty and Meg.”
1792 Becomes politically active on a wider scale, perhaps even having a hand in the composition of a call for Scottish constitutional reform modeled after Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791). Falls into legal trouble for writing “The Shark; or Lang Mills Detected,” a poem critical of the silk manufacturing system and one man in particular, William Sharp.
1794 Sails aboard the Swift from Belfast to Philadelphia in May with nephew William Duncan. Lands at Newcastle, Delaware on July 14th and walks to Philadelphia. Works with John Aiken, printer, Philadelphia.
1794-95 Weaves at Pennypack Creek, Pennsylvania and Sheppardstown, Virginia. Completes a peddling excursion in New Jersey.
1796-1801 Settles in Milestown, Pennsylvania and begins a career as a schoolmaster. During his five years in Milestown, he helped his cousin establish a farm near Ovid, New York, the place to which other family members eventually emigrate from Scotland.
1801 Gains notoriety in Milestown for his March 4th speech celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration, “Oration on the Power and Value of Natural Liberty.” Suddenly leaves Milestown in anticipation of a scandal over a love affair with either a married woman of the town or a student in his school. After a brief interlude as a schoolteacher in Bloomfield, New Jersey, ends up at a new post at the Union School, in Gray’s Ferry outside Philadelphia.
1802-03 Approaches the foremost naturalist of the day, William Bartram, to share information about bird names and illustrations.
1804 Successfully petitions to become a citizen of the United States on June 9th.
From October to December 1804, travels on foot to Niagara Falls, a 1200-mile journey documented in The Foresters. Publishes several poems in the Literary Magazine (Philadelphia).
1806 Applies to President Jefferson for appointment on Pike’s Expedition. Hired by the publishing house of Bradford and Inskeep as an assistant editor for natural sciences on Ree’s New Cyclopaedia. Salary at this position allows him to quit his post at the Union School, move to Philadelphia, and begin work on The American Ornithology.
1807 Begins traveling through Pennsylvania
1808 Prints the first of nine volumes of The American Ornithology with the support of Samuel Bradford. Begins five years of vigorous travel up and down the eastern seaboard in an attempt to study bird populations.
1808-09 Travels southward along the coast as far as Georgia.
1809-10 Journeys through the interior by way of Pittsburgh to New Orleans.
1810 Second volume, American Ornithology.
1811 Third and fourth volumes, American Ornithology.
1812 Fifth and sixth volumes, American Ornithology. Last ornithological trip, as far north as Maine. Elected member of American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia and of the Columbian Society of Artists of the United States.
1813 Seventh volume, American Ornithology. Taken sick with dysentery after taking cold from exposure. Dies in Philadelphia on August 23rd. Buried at Gloria Dei Church (The Old Swedes’ Church), Philadelphia.
1814 Eighth volume, American Ornithology. May: posthumous ninth volume, American Ornithology, edited and with a life of Wilson by George Ord.

Note On the Text

Alexander Wilson published two collections of poetry during his lifetime, both of them in Scotland before he emigrated to the United States. The first, an octavo entitled simply Poems, was printed for Wilson in 1790 by James Neilson of Paisley. Only 200 of the original 700 printed copies were disposed of, and in 1791 Wilson used the remaining sheets as the basis for a new collection, which he retitled Poems, Humorous, Satirical, and Serious (Edinburgh: P. Hill, 1791). All of the poems and prose of the first collection are included in the second, with the exception of “Address to Calder Banks,” “Epistle to a Brother Pedlar,” “The Cruelty of Revenge,” “Achtertool,” “Epitaph on Auld Janet,” the Second and Third Epistles “To Mr. William Mitchell,” “To the Curious,” “Verse to a Stationer,” and “Ode” (“Loud roaring winter now is o’er”). Wilson added the following: “Despondence: A Pastoral Ode,” “Epigram” (“I asked a poor favourite of Phœbus t’other night”), “Eppie and the Deil,” “Ode on the Birthday of our Immortal Scottish Poet,” “Ossian’s Lament,” “The Laurel Disputed,” “To the Hon. William M’Dowal of Garthland,” “Elegy” [“Beneath a range of elms, whose branches throw”], “Elegy Addressed to a Young Lady,” and an extension of the narrative drawn from his journal as a peddler. For these Scottish poems, the text below is based primarily on the first collection, with the additional poems drawn from the second. Where a collected poem also exists as a single publication—”The Laurel Disputed” and “The Loss of the Pack”—the reading text is the collected version unless otherwise noted.

Many of Wilson’s most important poems, including all of those first published in the United States, were never collected during his lifetime. For these poems, the first (and often the only) broadside, newspaper, or journal publication provides the base text. For newspaper verse, differing versions have been compared and an educated guess made about which best reflects Wilson’s original composition, usually based on the date of publication and the presence or absence of printer’s errors that may indicate the publisher’s care in remaining faithful to the original. In the few cases where Wilson revised previously published work—as in the American version of “Watty and Meg”—the latest printed version from his hand is reproduced.

The present text is the most recent posthumous edition of Wilson’s literary works since 1876, superseding all others produced after his death. Several early collections refer to an 1814 Paisley collection, Wilson’s Minor Poems (apparently at the direction of Robert Smith, Paisley bookseller), but an exhaustive search of library catalogs in Scotland, England, and the United States has failed to turn up any surviving volume matching this description. Poems by Alexander Wilson, Author of American Ornithology, with an Account of His Life and Writings was published by John Neilson of Paisley for H. [sic] Crichton and T. Auld in 1816. This is sometimes referred to as the “Crichton edition,” in reference to the extensive biographical headnote proved by Thomas Crichton. Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Paisley: John Neilson, 1816) is very similar, and an identically-titled edition was published the same year by Longman, Hurst of London. In 1844 a substantially new edition was published as The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson, edited by Thomas Smith Hutcheson (Belfast: John Henderson, 1844) and reissued in 1853 and again, in corrupt form, in 1857. These last three editions are often lumped together as the “Belfast edition” in secondary literature. Henderson was the first to publish the poems that make up The Spouter, issuing them separately in 1847 (see note on attribution). The single catalogued surviving copy of The Spouter has gone missing from Harvard’s Widener Library. Gordon lists an 1857 Paisley edition, Poems of Alexander Wilson, but no copy survives. In 1876, Alexander Grosart published a new comprehensive edition that he claimed was based on earlier editions, manuscripts, and US periodical publications. His The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson, the American Ornithologist (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1876) is the last, best, and most widely available edition. Comparison of Grosart’s text with the two volumes published under Wilson’s supervision, however, shows that Grosart introduced many small (and some not so small) changes that, in the absence of Wilson’s manuscripts, cannot be assumed to come from the author’s hand. Grosart’s emendations do not appear in this edition for all poems that exist in other sources. In those few cases where original publications or manuscripts could not be located, Grosart’s collection provides the text.

Wilson occasionally included verse within his prose writings and correspondence, most significantly in the American Ornithology. These poems have been included here in their original published form. Three poems from Weaver’s Magazine uncertainly ascribed by Grosart to Wilson—”An Auld Scottish Sang,” “Song—The Sun Shone O’re Loch and Lea,” and “Ode”—are reprinted here with the standard caveats. It has been suggested that Burns’s The Tree of Liberty was in fact written by Wilson, but Andrew Noble’s linguistic argument against this attribution is compelling, and the poem is not included here. [6] Finally, there is a small collection of unpublished verse from the manuscript holdings at the Harvard Library of Comparative Zoology, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and the Paisley Museum.

In preparing the text, no changes were made to Wilson’s ordering, spelling, spacing or capitalization. Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected, and obsolete typological conventions distracting to the modern eye—long s and the -ct- ligature, running quotes, etc. —have been removed. Original prefaces are included in all cases.


Scots-English Glossary

A’: all

Aback: at a distance, aloof

Abee: let alone

Aboon: above

Ae: one

Aff: out of

Aff: off

Aft: oft

Aften: often

Ahint: behind

Aiblins: perhaps

Aiken: oaken

Ain: own

Air: early

Airt: to guide

Airns: irons

Aith: oath

Ait-farle: oat-cake

Alang: along

Ale-cap: ale-jug or mug

Amaist: almost

Amang: among

Ance: once

Ane: one

Aneath: beneath

Anither: another

Antrin: occasional

Baul’, bauld: bold

Bauldly: boldly

Bawbees: half pence

Beagles: police-men

Beating: thread used to repair defects in a web

Beekin: basking

Bedeen: immediately

Begoud: began

Belang: belong

Behin: behind

Beild, bield, biel: house shelter

Beinly: comfortably

Ben: into

Bent: filled-full

Belly-flaught: suddenly and eagerly

Bethankit: be thanked

Beuks: books

Bien: comfortable

Bigget: erected

Biggin: building

Billies, Willies: lads

Binna: be not

Birk: birch.

Birky: forward (young) person, cleverness implied

Birring: whirring

Bi ten’: biting

Bizzon: a fly

Bizzing: buzzing

Blackfoot: match-maker

Blae: blue (from cold)

Blades: fellows

Blash: dash

Blastit: blasted

Blate: bashful

Blatterin, blattrin, blattering: rattling

Blattert, blattered: rattled

Blauds: large pieces

Blaw: blow

Blawing: blowing

Bleeze: blaze

Bleezin: blazing

Blether: nonsense, bladder

Bletherin’ and blethering: speaking nonsense

Blethert: spoke nonsense

Blin: blind

Blinfu: blind-drunk

Blink: instant

Blue: whiskey

Bluid, blude: blood

Bluidy: bloody

Blustry: blustering

Blowt: to throw out with great force

Bockit: vomited

Bock in, bockan: vomiting

Boddam: bottom

Bodle: small coin

Bole: recess in the wall near fireplace

Bonny: beautiful, lovely

Bool: bully

Bookit: engaged

Bore: the action of a weaver turning round his beam with woven cloth upon it

Bordert: bordered

Boss: empty

Bottlie: bottle

Bouster: bolster

Bout-gates: round about

Bra’, braw: large,

Brae: hill-side

Brak: broke

Braid: broad

Branks: breeches

Branchin’: branching, budding

Braw, bra’ly: well, nicely, handsomely

Bree, brue: juice, sauce

Breeks: breeches

Bricht: bright

Brislt: bruised

Brimstane: brimstone

Brither: brother

Breeks: breeches

Broad: table

Broucht: brought

Brock: badger

Brod: tailor’s sewing board

Brogs: awl (for boring)

Broomy: broom-clad

Brooze: contest

Brownie: in Folk-lore, a spirit

Brust: burst

Buckled: joined in marriage

Buckv, buck: gay young fellow

Bug: built

Buik: book

Bums: makes a noise

Bunneuchs: bunions

Burdies: little birds

Burn: stream

Burnie: little burn

Burrel: barrel

Buskin’: adorning

Butt: opposite of ben, other end

Buttl’t: bundled, made up

By: aside

Byding: residence

Ca’: call

Ca’d: called

Cade, cud

Ca’f: calf

Caft, coft: bought

Ca’s: calls

Cairns: stone-heaps

Callans: boys

Ca’na, canna: can not

Cam: came

Cainsheuch: cross-tempered

Cannels: candles

Canker: grow crabbed and envy

Canty: cheery

Canny: wisely, niggardly

Carena: care not

Carles: persons

Carlines: feminine of carles

Catter: cash

Caul, cauld: cold

Cauler: colder

Causey: road

Cape, cope: top

Capstane: copestone

Chaist: chased

Chafts: the chops

Chanler: lean, meagre

Chap: knock

Chaps: fellows

Chappin’: knocking

Chappet: knocked

Chatterin’: shaking

Cheek: side

Cheeps: chirps

Chaunter: musical instrument, (e.g., bagpipe)

Chaunerin: murmuring, grumbling

Chaunting: chanting

Chiel’: young fellow, person

Chimly: chimney

Chirts: squeezes

Chirtin’: squeezing

Chirle: comb (of cock)

Chucky: hen

Ciners: cinders

C’anty: happy

Cheek: side of fire

Clachan: village

C’lack: loud din

Claes, Claise: clothes

Claith: cloth

Clam: climbed

Clash: din

Chappit: chapped

Clashes: lies

Clashing, clashing: din and gossip-talk

Clautet: cleaned or cleared out

Clauts: hands, as by the clauts ; or clatts, an instrument for teasing wool

Claughan, claughin, clachan: village

Cleart: cleared

Clift: cliff

Clinch: catch

Clink: money

Clinket: clinked

Clippet: clipped

Cloitet: plunged (awkwardly)

Cloorin: wounding

Clootie: Devil (hoofed)

Closses: lanes

Closs: lane

Closs-mouth: lane mouth

Clouts: rags

Cloots: ankles

Clout: white cloth

Cloutet: hard knock

Cloutin’: wounding

Cluds: clouds

Cluded: clouded

Clues: clews

Clung: starved and empty

Coblin: cobbling

Cock, cocks: hearty fellows

Cockin: cocking

Cock: erect

Cock: push up

Cockernonies: cap, gathering of a woman’s hair when it is tied up with a snood

Co’er: cover

Co’ers: covers

Co’ering: covering

Cog: a wooden dish

Cole: cash

Confoundet: confounded

Coof: foolish fellow

Core: company

Cork: small manufacturer

Cornrig: corn-ridge

Corps: company (of a regiment)

Corp-like: corpse-like

Coudna: could not

Coup: couped, tumbled

Cowl: night-cap

Cowins: cut-off portions

Crack, cracks: chat

Crackin’: chatting

Crackit: chatted

Cracky: chatty

Craig: crag

Craig-neuk: corner of a crag

Craft: croft

Cram’t: filled full

Crawin’: crowing

Craws: crows

Cried: proclaimed (for marriage)

Creels: baskets

Creesh: grease

Creeshy, creeshie: greasy

Crouds: crowds

Crouse: happy

Crously: happy

Creuk and heuk: by hook and crook

Crump: to chew hard bread

Crumpin: sound of snow trodden on

Cuft: cuffed

Cuffets: blows

Curlers: Scotch ice-game

Cut his stick: took his departure

Dab: proficient

Dading: knocking loudly

Dadlin: going idly about

Daffin: fun

Daft: full of fun (also insane)

Daft’s: as full of gladness as

Dang, beat: reopened

Dark: day’s work (before dark)

Darna: dare not

Dar’t: dared

Dauded: dashed, knocked

Daudron: slovenly, dirty

Dauner: wander

Dauners: wanders

Daunerin’ and daunering: wandering

Daunert: wandered

Daughty: well, able

Dautet: fondled, caressed

Dawds: large pieces

Deals: pieces of sawn wood

Deean: dying

Decoy’t: decoyed

Deed: indeed

Deevil, deil, deel: devil

Deil-be licket: be licked by the devil

Deil-mak-mattcr: devil-make matter

Dem: damn

Deuk: duck

Devore: devour

Didna: did not

Dight: wipe

Dighted: wiped

Digget: digged

Ding: dash, knock

Dinna: do not

Dinsome: noisy, deafening

Direfu: direful

Disputet: disputed

Dizen and dizens: dozens

Doited: stupid

Doitert: most stupid

Doits: (smallest coin)

Dool: sorrow

Doolfu’: doleful

Door: obstinate

Doos: doves

Dorty: pettish

Douce, dowse: wise, grave

Douk: dip

Douf: dull

Dously: wisely, gravely

Dowin: doing

Doyt: small coin

Draigl’t: draggled

Draff: chaff

Drap: drop

Drappan: dripping

Drapped, drapt: dropped

Dree: endure long

Dreein: lengthened out

Driven’t: driven it

Drifted: snow in wreaths

Drog: drug

Drookit: drenched

Droon: drown

Drucken: drunken

Drousy: sleepy

Dryster: the person who has charge of drying the grain in a kiln prior to grinding

Duddie, duddy: ragged and dirty

Durk: dirk

Dung: beat, defeated

Dugs: dogs

Duket: dipped

Durstna: dared not

Dwallin: duelling

Dyke: wall

Dyvour: shabby, drunken fellow

E’e: eye

Een, e’en: evening

E’ning: evening

Eerie: lonely, timid

Eerocks: chickens

Eild: old age

Eith: easy, easily

Eldin: fuel

Eldren: aged

Eldritch: ghostly (and ghastly implied)

Ell wan: measuring-rod

Embrugh: Edinburgh

Empro: lamprey

En’: end

Erls: earnest-money

Fa’: fall

Fa’s: falls

Fab: fob

Fac’t: faced

Faes: foes

Fain: fond

Fa’ing: falling

Faintive: faintly

Fair: clearly

Faith: minced oath

Fallow: fellow

Fallow’d: followed

Fan: found

Fan’ and fun’: found

Fa’n: fallen

Farm town: farm steading

Farer: farther

Farest, farthest

Farm-town: farmhouse

Fash: trouble

Fassent: fastened

Fa’t, faut: fault

Faught: tight

Feath’rin’: feathering

Fegs: faith (exclamation)

Fell: keen, biting, vigorous

Fenny: comfortable entertainment

Ferlies: wonders, strange things

Ferly: wonder

Fernyear: last year

Fiel’, fiel’s: fields

Fient a ane: none

Fin: seek, find

Finisht: finished

Firms, forms: long seats

Fit: bottom

Fitches: moves

Fizz: fury, fire

Flea: lice

Flang: flung

Flate: scolded

Fleean: flying, departing

Fleech: supplicate

Fleesome: frightful

Flighter’t: fluttered

Flinners: flinders

Flitherin: fluttering

Flounge: flounder, in a rage

Flyte: scold

Flytin’: scolding

Foistest: next of age

Forbye: besides

Fore-door: front door

Forgather’t: meet together

Forgie: forgive

Form: sea

Forret: forward

Fother’t: fathered

Foul: not one

Frae: from

Fricht: fright

Frichtet: frightened

Frien’, frien’s, freen: friend

Frien’ly: friendly

Frythin’: foaming

Fu’: full

Fug: moss

Fuggy: mossy

Fung: thump, kick

Fursday: Thursday

Furl’d: furled, folded

Ga’ and ga’d: gall and galled

Gab: mouth, speech

Gabby: chatty

Gae: to go

Gaed and gade: went’n, gaun, going

Gane, gaen: going

Gang: go

Gangs: goes

Gangrels: tramps (beggars)

Gant and gaunted: yawned

Gars: compel

Gars: compels.

Gart: compelled

Gat: got

Gate: way

Ga’t: galled

Garse: grass

Gapet: gaped

Gaudie: high-sounding

Gausey: jolly, large

Gavel: gable

Gay: very

Gayen, gyen: very, quite

Gear: goods

Gentles: well-born

Ghaists: ghosts

Gie: give

Gied: gave

Gien: given

Gies: gives

Gif: if

Gigle: laugh

Gill: quarter pint drink-measure

Gillie: dimunitive of gill

Gin’t: if it were

Gin: if

Gled: kite, hawk

Gleg: quick

Glen: vale

Glibby-gabbet: quickly-talked

Glint: peep

Glinted: peeped out

Gloaming: twilight

Gloits: dults

Gloom: frown

Glowan: glowing

Glow: feel hot

Glowre: glower, stare, gaze

Glow’ring: staring, gazing

Glowert: gazed

Gluts: bellyfulls

Gorge: devour

Goud and gowd: gold

Gouk: tool

Goustly: ghostly

Gowan: daisy

Gowden: golden

Graip: dung fork

Graith: working utensils

Gran: grand

Graue: groan

Graned and gran’t: groaned

Girdle: flat circular plate hung above the fire

Girn: grin

Girning: grinning

Girnt: grinned

Girr: hoop

Gleefu’: gleeful

Glum: gloomy

Glancin’: glancing

Glasco’: Glasgow

Graped: groped

Grappleairns: arms, embraces

Grat: wept

‘Gree: agree

Gree, bear the, get the; the best of

Grit: great

Groo: shudder, hate

Groosome: frightful

Grum’le: grumble

Grumphy: pig

Grun: ground

Gruppit: gripped

Grutten: wept

Gude and guid: good

Guide’s: God-guide-us

Gude-fegs: good-faith

Gude-for-naething: good-for-nothing

Gude-man: good-man

Gude-sake and gude’s-name: God’s-sake, God’s-name

Gude-wife: good-wife

Guid-faith: good-faith

Gurle: growl

Gurl’d: growled

Ha’, ha’s: hall

Hab, hab’s: Albert

Hade: hold

Hadna: had not

Hae: have

Haen, haena: have no

Ha’f: half

Haffets: sides of the head

Ha’flins: half

Haill: whole

Hainches: haunches

Haith: faita

Hale: whole, healthy

Halesale: wholesale

Hallan: outer door

Hallow: hollow

Hallowfair: Hallowmas Fair

Halter’t: hanged

Haly: holy

Haly Beuk: Bible (Holy Book)

Hame: home

Hamely: homely

Hamewards: homewards

Hammart, hameart: belonging to home

Hammocks: swung beds

Han, haun: hand

Handy: convenient

Hap: hop

Happin’: hopping

Happet: happed

Harl: drag

Harlt and harl’d: dragged

Harnishes: shawls of a particular pattern

Harns: brains (head)

Hash: sloven

Has’t: has it

Haud: hold

Haud: retain

Haudin: holding

Haul: drag

Hault: dragged

Haun: hand

Haurlet: harled

Havings: dung

Headlang: headlong

Heapet: heaped

Hear’t: heard

Hearty: cheery

Hech: faith

Hech’s: exclamation

Hechin’: exclaiming

Hech’t: recalled

Heicht: height

Heigh: high

Heigh’s: as tall as

Heeze: lift up

He’11: he will

Herd, shepherd

Herdies: shepherd lads

Herse: hoarse

Hersel’: herself

He: hot

Heuk: hook

Heys: exclamations

Hie: high

Hielan, Highlan: Highland

Hirnsel: himself

Hinee: honey

Hinder-en’: at close

Hindmaist: hindmost, last

Hing: hang

Hingan and hingin, hanging

‘Hint: behind

Hinnymoon: honey-moon

Hippen: child’s cloth

Hirplin’: crawling, creeping

Hog: shilling

Hogmonae: last night of the year

Hornings: law papers

Hoo: how

Hools: husks

Hoot: exclamation (‘tut)

Hov’t: hoved

Hotch: fat person’s movements

Hotchin: moving

Hotch’t: moved

Houps: hopes

Howe: hollow

Howk: dig

Huggers: old stocking-legs

Huggert taes: toes covered with old stockings

Hum’elt: humbled

Humle, &c: imitative sound

Hun’er and hunder: hundred and hundred

Hunkerin: crouching

Hunker’t: crouched

Hurdies: buttocks

Hurry-burry: hurley-burley

Hutch: indefinite quantity

Huthron: hurriedly, confusedly

I’: in

Ilk: each

Ilka: every

Ill-leukin’: ill-looking

Ingle: fire-place

Ingle-cheek: fire-side

Ingon: onion

In’t: into it

Ise: I shall

Isna: is not

Ithers: others

Jaw: impudence

Jaud: jade

Jennock: girl’s name (Jane)

Jaunnering: talking idly

Jinglin’: rhyme-sounding

Jink: turn suddenly

Jinkin’: turning suddenly

Jougs: iron collar fastened by a chain to the wall

Jumpit: jumped

Kail: broth

Kame: comb

Kechan: yeast

Kecklin: cackling

Keek: peep

Keekin’: peeping

Keel or keels: end of the web

Keeking-glass: looking-glass

Keepit and keeping: keeping

Ken, kens: know, knows

Kent, kend: known

Kentna: knew not

Kepp: catch

Kicket: kicked

Kimmer: woman, wife

Kin’ling: kindling

Kinle: kindle

Kintra: country

Kintra fouk: country people

Kirk: church

Kirkyard: church-yard

Kippled: married

Kirnan-iung: staff of churn

Kist: kissed

Kist: chest

Kittle: tickle

Kittled: tickled

Knoitet: knocked

Knowe, knows: hillock, hillocks

Knuckled: endured

Koots: ankles

Kussen: thrown, cast

Kytes: bellies

Labrod: mill-stream at work

Laddie: lad

Lade: load

Lade: mill-stream

Lad’ent: loaded

Laft: loft

Laird: proprietor

Lallan: lowland

Lam’s: lambs

Lamies: little lambs

Lamp: long step

Lampin’, lampit: stepping with long stride

Lan: land

Lanc’d: lanced

Lane: alone

Lanely: lonely

Lanesome: lonesome

Lang: long

Langer: longer

Langsyne: long-ago

Lap: jumped

Lapfu’s: lapfuls

Lashin’: lashing

Late and air: late and early

Lauchin and laughin: laughing

Laught: laughed

Lave: rest

Lavrocks: sky-larks

Lay: part of a loom

Lea: leave

Lea: meadow

Lear: learning

Leart: learned

Leathing: lath

Leath’ring: castigation

Lee: lie

Leein’: lying

Leel: true

Lee’t: lied

Len’: lend

Leugh: laughed

Leuk and leuks: look

Leukin: looking

Licket: licked

Libels: enters in book

Liftin: lifting

Licht: light

Lift: sky

Lilt: sing

Limestane: limestone

Limmers: frolicsome girls

Lin, linn: waterfall

Lingle: thread

‘Listet: enlisted

Live-lang: live-long

Lizures: selvages

Lochs: lakes

Lo’ed: loved

Loes: loves

Lon’on: London

Loof: palm

Loon: fellow

Loot: did let

Looves: palm

Losin: window-panes

Lounder: severe blow

Loup: jump

Lout: stoop

Loutin and louts: stooping

Lowins: whiskey of first distillation

Lowse: loose

Lows’d, lowst: loosened

Lozens: window-panes

Lucky: widow-woman, a hen

Lug, lugs: ear, ears

Luke: look

Lum: chimney

Lum’er: lumber

Lumple: limp

Mae: more

Mair: more

Muirs: moors

Maist: most

Mak: make

Mak’s: makes

Maksna: makes not

Man: manage

Mane: moan

Mang: mong

Maun: must

Ma’t: mowed

Maukin: hare

Mauna: must not

Maunt: managed

Maw: mow

Measurt: measured

Meikle: much

Mem: madam

Mell: mallet

Men’: mend

Met: meted

Mete: measure

Micht: might

Midding: dunghill

Min: mind

Mirk: dark

Mirran: woman’s name

Mirley: spotted

Misca’d: miscalled

Mist: missed

Mistak: mistake

Mistaen: mistaken

Mither: mother

Mony: many

Mortclaith: corpse-cover, pall

Mosses: muirs

Mou’: mouth

Mouthfu’: mouthful

Muckle: much

Mum’ling: mumbling

Muirs: moors

Murnfu: mournful

Mutchkin: drink-measure

Muckworms: misers

Na: no

Nae: none

Naething: nothing

Nail’d: fixed

Nain: own

Nainsels: myself

Nane: none

Neb: nose, bill

Needfu’: needful

Needna: need not

Neive, nieve: fist

Newfangl’t: new-fancied, fond of new things

Newk and neuks: corner and corners

Nicht: night

Niest: next

Noddle: head

Noo: now

Norlan’: northern

Num’er: number

Nowt: oxen

Och: exclamation

O’d: minced oath for God

O’m: of him

On’t: on it

Ony: any

Ordour, ordure: excrement

O’s: of his

O’t: of it

Owk: week

Owre: over

Owr’t: over it

Oxtering: carrying under arm-pits

O’er’t: over it

Pack: the packman’s or chapman’s load

Packman: chapman

Painches: bowels

Pair: poor

Paper spot: a kind of gauze, of a spotted pattern

Parritch: porridge made of oatmeal

Pash: head, wig

Pass’t: passed

Pat: pot

Pate, Patie: diminutive of Patrick

Pats: pots

Paughty: proud, haughty

Pawky: sly, sagacious

Pawkily: slyly

Pechin: panting

Peel: castle-tower

Peepit: peeped

Peerie: boy’s plaything, a top

Pested: annoyed

Phrazin: flattering with fine phrases

Piping: steaming

Pirns: reed or quill in a shuttle

Pith: strength

Plaiding: plaid cloth

Plaister: plaster

Plaisteret: plastered

Planestanes: pavement

Plash: wading with a plunging sound

Plate: basin or plate in which church money-offerings are taken

Platefu: plateful

Pleugh: plough

Pocks: bags

Poortith: poverty

Poon, poind: seize property against a debt

Pouches: pockets

Poucht: pocketed

Pouther: powder

Pouthert: powdered

Pow: head

Prent: print

Prentit: printed

Preses: president, chairman

Preserve’s: preserve us

Prest: urged, pressed

Pricket: pricked

Prins: pins

Punds: pounds

Pu’s: pulls

Putten: put

Pyles: crumbs

Quait: quiet

Quat: quit

Quirty: quirky

Quo’, quoth: says, saith

Rab, Rob, Rabby, Rabbie’s: Robert

Racket: racked

Rade: rode

Raggy: ragged

Raiket: raked

Rais’t: raised

Rake: two ‘stoups’ of water, or as much as is fetched at a time

Ram’t and ram’d: rammed

Rampaugin: raging

Ranket: ranked

Rape: rope

Rappet: called for

Rattons: rats

Raw: row

Rax: reach

Ree: stupid with drink (whiskey)

Reek: smoke

Reekie: smoky

Reekin: smoking

Reekt: smoked

Reels: bobbins or quantity of work to be done

Reests: rests

Ribs: bars of a fire-grate

Richt: right

Riggin: ridge

Rin: run

Ringan: man’s name, Rowland

Ringe: rush

Rink: curling-space along which the stones slide

Rinnin’: running

Rive: tear

Rivan: tearing

Roart: roared

Rock: distaff

Roorny: spacious

Roose: raise, exalt

Roun: round

Routed: defeated

Routh: plenty

Rowan: rolling

Rowe, rowes: roll, rolls

Row’t: rolled

Rowth: plenty

Rue: repent

Ruffin: applauding with the feet

Rug: tug

Rugged and tugged: pulled and better pulled

Rurnle: rumble

Rumlin: rumbling

Rumple: to rump

Rump: back-side

Rung and rungs: stick, cudgel

Run: rivulet

Runkly: wrinkled

Sab: sob

Sabbing: sobbing

Sae: so

Saft: soft

Saftest: softest

Saftly: softly

Sair: sore

Sairly: sorely

Sairt: served

Sal: shall

Salms: Psalms

San’-blin’: sand blind

Sang: song

Sappier: jollier

Sa’r: serve

Sarks: shirts

Sauchs: willows

Saul: soul

Sautet: salted

Save’s: save us

Sawing: sowing

Sax: six

Saxpence: sixpence

Saxteen: sixteen

Saxty: sixty

Scal’: scold

Scales: weighing-basins

Scances: scans

Scannint: scanned

Scart: scratch

Scarted: scratched

Scarting: scratching

Sca’t: scabbed

Scawling: scolding

Scklates: slates

Scons: scones

Scoun’rel: scoundrel

Scower: polish bright

Scowry and scowery: shabby

Scraichin’: screeching

Screwt: screwed

Scrimp: lessen, or come short

Scrive: scribe or write

Scruntet: grunted

Scunners: loathes

See’t: see it

Sell: self

Sen’: send

Ser’t, ser’d: served.

Ser’ ye: serve you

Sert’s: set us

Sey’d: tried, thought of

Shanket: departed

Shanks: legs

Shapet: shaped

Shaw: woody glen

Shine: a rumpus or noisy quarrel

Shift: adventure

Shins: feet

Shiteing: easing nature

Shoelin’: shuffling

Shoolfu’: shovelful

Shoon: shoes

Shor’d: threatened noisily

Shortsyne: short time since

Shottle: shabby like, dilapidated

Shouthers: shoulders

Sic: such

Siccan: such a

Sicht: sight

Sicker: sure

Sight: crowd

Silken: silk

Siller: money

Simmer: summer

Sin’: since

Sinfu’: sinful

Sinny: sunny

Sinty: seventy

Sipet: supped

Skeigh: high, spiritedly

Skelf: shelf

Skelping: whipping

Skelpit: whipped

Skiff: skim

Skiffin’: slimming

Skift: skip

Skillie: ski11

Skinklin’, skinklan: sparkling

Skirles: loud laughter

Skirle: laugh loud

Skirlin’: loud, shrill laughter

Skit: cuff

Sklate: slate

Skrewt: screwed

Skyl:, scattering

Skytchers: skates

Slade: slid

Slairy’d: slobbered

Slaw: slow

Slee: sly

Slee-tongued: sly-tongued

Sleek: polished

Sleeness: slyness, sagacity

Sof’s: save us!

Sogers: soldiers

Sonsy: jolly

Sonsier: jollier

Sooket: sucked

Soom: swim

Soon’s: soon as

Sleepin’: sleeping

Sleepit: slept

Slichtet: slighted

Slippet: slipped

Sloken: quench thirst

Sma’: small

Smoket: smoked

Smo’ering: smouldering

Sna’: snow

Snaw-ba’s: snowballs

Snawy: snowy

Snaw-wreathes: snow wreaths

Snawy: snowy

Snecks: latches

Sneeran: sneering

Snell: keen, sharp

Snellest: most keen

Sniftering: scent-tracking

Snod: tidily dressed

Snuffy: snuff-defiled

Soss: sit at ease

Souchin’ and suchin’: sighing

Soun: sound

Soucht: sought

Soun’: perfect

Soun’s: sound as

Sowing-brod: tailor’s board on which the dressing-paste is prepared

Sowins: fine oat-meal and grain steeped in water

Sowl: soul

Sowthert: soldered

Spak: spoke

Spale: spell (of words)

Spark: fop

Spat: spot

Spate: flood

Spavy: spavin

Specks, spentacles: eye-glasses

Speel: climb

Speeling: climbing

Speelt: climbed

Speer: ask

Speering: asking

Spen: spend

Spouter: elocutionist or actor

Spoulin: spoiling

Spreadan: spreading

Sprawlin: sprawling

Spree: drunken debauch

Spring: fountain

Spue’t: spewed

Spunkie: will o’-the-wisp, ignis fatuus

Squatter: spattering

Squattert: bespattered

Squeaket: squeaked

Stab and stabs: paling

Stan: stand

Stang: sting

Stannin, stanin: standing

Stane: stone

Stane-dykes: stone walls

Stap and staps: stop and stops

Stapped: stopped

Stark: mad-like, strong

Starkly: strongly

Starns: stars

Staucherin’: stumbling, staggering

Staucher: stumbles, staggers

Stechin: panting, breathless

Steck: shut or close

Steekit: closed

Steerin: stirring

Steers: stirs

Steeve: strong

Stells: stills

Stinning: standing

Stoitet: stumbled

Stoppet: stopped

Stoups: a kind of mug or jug

Stoupfu’: fill of jug or mug

Strae: straw

Strang: strong

Stranger: stronger

Streekit, streek’t: stretched

Stively: strongly

Sucket: sucked

Sud: should

Surroundet: surrounded

Swack: whack

Swalt: swelled

Swankie: youth

Sweer: unwilling

Swith: swiftly

Swither: hesitate

Swor’t: swore it

Sync: then, soon, immediately, since

Synt: washed

Tackets: nails

Ta’en: taken

Taes: toes

Tafts: cot-houses

Tak: take

Tak’s-aff: takes off

Tam, Tammy: Thomas

Tangs: tongs

Tankers: tankards

Tanle: heaped up quantity

Tap, taps: top, tops

Tassle: tussle

Tattert: tattered

Tauld: told

Tel’t: told

Tempin’: tempting

Tent: observe

Tenty: observant

Thack: thatch

Thae: these

Than: then

Thegither: together

Thinkna: think not

Thir: these

Thocht, thoucht: thought

Thole: endure

Thol’t: endured

Thow: thaw

Thrang: throng

Thrangs: throngs

Thrang’t: thronged

Thraw: twist

Thrawart: contrary

Thrawn: cross-grained

Thretty: thirty

Thriftless: improvident

Thronie: throne

Thumle: thimble

Thumpit: thumped.

Thump-the-deil: a minister

Thun’er: thunder

Thund’ren: thundering.

Till’t: to it

Tim’er: timber

Tine: lose

Tinkler: tinkcr.

Tint and tynt: lost

Tirl: tap

Tirred: stripped off

Tither: other

Tok: took

Toom and tooms: empty

Toom’s: empty as

Toop: tup

Toothfu’: taste

To’t: to it

Tormentet: tormented

Tout: to sound

Towmont: twelvemonth

Town: farm-house

Towrin’: towering

Trampit: tramped

Trance: lobby-entrance

Trig: neat

Troke: buy-and-sell, trade

Trouth: truth

Trow: believe

trowther: harum-scarum, reckless

Trunl’t: rolled or tumbled

Try’t: try it

Tubfu: a vessel so-called, full

Tum’t: emptied

Tumphy: blockhead

Turn: job or bit of work

Twa: two

‘Twad: it would.

Twa-inch: two-inch

Twalls: twelves

Twas: twos

Twa-three: two or three

Twigle-twigle: imitative-sound

Twitter’t: twittered

Tyke and tykes: dog

Tyken: cloth for beds and bolsters

Tyning: losing

Ugsome: loathsome

Unco: very

Unhaunty: unhandy

Upo’: upon

Verra: very

Vow: I declare

Wa’: wall

Wab and wabs: web, webs

Wabsters: weavers

Wad: would

Wadna: would not

Wae: woe

Wae be till’t: woe be to it

Wae’s: woe’s

Waefu’: woeful

Waft: weft

Wame: belly

Wan’s: wands, twigs

Wanted: wonted

War and waur: were.

Wark: work

Warklooms: weaving machines

Warl: world

Warldly: worldly

Warsled: warsle: wrestled

War’ly: worldly

War’t: were it

Wasna: was not

Was’t: was it

Wat: wot

Wat-shod: wet-shod

Wauk: to walk

Waukened: awakened

Waukent: awakened

Wauket: hardened

Waur: worse

Waunner: wander

Weans: children

Weanies: little children

Weather’t: weather it

Wearying: longing

Weel: well

Weel-a-weel: well-a-well

Weel-boilt: well-boiled

Weel-swalt: well-swelled

Weel-a-wat: well I wot

Weet: wet

Weel-kent: well-known

Werena: were not

We’se: we are

Wha: who

Wha ‘d: who would

Wha ‘ll: who will

Whae’er: whoever

Whan: when

Whane’er: whene’er

Whang: slice

Whare: where

Whareabouts: whereabouts

Whar-awa’s: where-away

Whase: whose

Whatna: what

Whauks: lumps

Wheedle: cheat

Wheest: hush

Wheese: wheedle

Whilk: which

Whiles: sometimes

Whinge: whine

Whist and whisht: be silent

Whitent: whitened

Whitret: weasle

Whum’le: overturning

Whuppet: whipt up

Whyle and whyles: sometimes

Whyle (a): sometime

Wi’: with

Wident: widened

Wimplin and wimplan: winding

Wi’m: with him

Win: get

Wins: winds

Winles: windlass

Winna: will not

Winnocks: windows

Winnock-brods: window-boards

Winnock-sole: window-sole

Wist: thought of

Wi’t: with it

Withouten: without

Woner: wonder

Wonnerin: wondering

Woner’t: wondered

Won’rous: wondrous

Woodings: woods, plantations

Wordy: worthy

Wrack: wreck

Wrang: wrong

Wrannie: wren

Wreathe: drifted snow

Wreath’d: drifted

Wud: a wood

Wudna or woudna: would not

Whare’er: where’er

Wylie, wyly: sly

Yaumour: murmur

Yaummers: murmuring

Yeer: your

Yellochan: out-cry

Yer: your

Yersel: yourself

Ye’re: ye are

Yestreen: yesternight

Yill: ale

Yird: earth

Yirth: earth

Yett: gate

Yon’s: yon is

Yoursel, yoursels: yourself, yourselves

Yowling: howling




Andrew Crawfurd, The Cairn of Lochwinnoch. 46 manuscript volumes held in the Paisley Central Library. Substantive material relating to Alexander Wilson and his family found in volumes 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7

American Philosphical Society, Papers, 1806-1813. 9 items, including “The Last Wish.” OCLC #122523476

Paisley Museum, Monument Scrapbook. Materials on Wilson collected during the drive to raise funds for the statue erected in his honor in 1876

Houghton Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology Manuscripts ca. 1700-1936 (inclusive). 150 volumes. Includes Wilson’s letterbook, notebooks, drawings, watercolors, and other writings OCLC #122643262

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Collection of Historical Manuscripts, 1736-1908 (inclusive), 1810-1870 (bulk). Approximately .75 linear feet. OCLC #122593629

Parochial Registers, County of Renfrew, Paisley. Register General’s Office, Edinburgh

Treasonable Practices in Scotland, 1792-94. Collection of British intelligence reports on seditious activities


Collected Poetry

Alexander Wilson, Poems (Paisley: J. Nielson, 1790)

Poems, Humorous, Satirical, and Serious. Second edition. (Edinburgh: P. Hill, 1791)

Wilson’s Minor Poems (Paisley 1814)

Poems by Alexander Wilson, Author of American Ornithology, with an Account of His Life and Writings (Paisley 1816)

Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect by Alexander Wilson with an Account of His Life and Writings (Paisley: J. Nielson, 1816)

The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson, ed. Thomas Smith Hutcheson (Belfast: John Henderson, 1844)

The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson, with a Memoir (Belfast, 1853)

The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson with an Extended Memoir of His Life and Writings (Belfast: J. Henderson, 1857)

Poems of Alexander Wilson (Paisley, 1857)

The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson, ed. Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, 2 volumes (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1876)

Individual Poems

“Address to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, by Laurie Nettle” (Paisley, 1792)

“An Auld Scottish Sang,” Weavers Magazine (n.d.) [Attributed to Wilson]

“Connel and Flora,” American newspapers (n.d.)

“Dirge (in Memory of Washington),” American newspapers (1799)

“The Dominie or The Teacher,” American newspapers (n.d.)

“The Foresters, Descriptive of a Pedestrian Journey to the Falls of Niagara, in the Autumn of 1803” The Port Folio, I (January-June 1809): 538; II (July-September 1809): 70, 141, 273, 367, 452, 561; III (January-June 1810): 159, 177

“The Foresters,” (Newton, Penn., 1818)

“The Foresters,” (Paisley, 1825)

“The Foresters,” (West Chester, Penn., 1838)

“The Foresters,” (Philadelphia, 1853)

“Hab’s Door, or The Temple of Terror” (Paisley, 1793)

“The History of Watty and Meg,” (Cupar-Fife, 1801)

“Hollander, or Light Weight” (Paisley, 1793)

“Hymns I-VII, The Psalm-Singer’s Assistant,” ed. Robert Gilmore (Paisley, 1791)

“In Memory of Captain Lewis,” (American Newspapers, 1810)

“The Invitation,” Literary Magazine II (July, 1804)

“Jefferson and Liberty” (American newspapers, 1801)

“The Laurel Disputed; or the Merits of Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson Contrasted,” Two Poetical Essays, ed. E. Picken and A. Wilson (Edinburgh, 1791)

“The Laurel Disputed” (Paisley, 1827, 1832)

“Lavinia,” American newspapers, n.d.

“The Loss of the Pack” (Edinburgh, 1791)

“My Landlady’s Nose” Newark Centinel (August 24, 1801)

“Ode by the Late Alexander Wilson,” Weaver’s Magazine (n.d.) [Attributed to Wilson]

“On Seeing the Portrait of Robert Burns,” Literary Magazine, IV (1806)

“The Pilgrim, A Poem: Descriptive of a voyage and journey from Pittsburgh to New-Orleans, in the Spring of 1810,” The Port Folio, II, III (January-June, 1810) 512

“Prayer Addressed to Jove, the God of Thunder, during the Late Hot Weather” Newark Centinel (September 22, 1801)

“Rab and Ringan, A Tale” to Which is added “Verses Occasioned by Seeing Two Men Sawing Timber in the Open Field, in Defiance of a Furious Storm” (Paisley, 1827)

“A Rural Walk,” Literary Magazine II (1804) 533-536

“A Rural Walk,” The Port Folio (April 27, 1805)

“The Shark, or Lang Mills Detected” (Paisley, 1793)

“The Solitary Tutor,” Literary Magazine, II (October, 1804)

“Song—The sun has shown o’re loch and lea,” Weaver’s Magazine (n.d) [Attributed to Wilson]

“The Spouter, a True Tale” (Belfast: J. Henderson, 1847)

“The Tears of Britain,” American newspapers, n.d.

“Verses in the Philadelphia Public Library,” Thomas Westcott’s The Historic Mansions and Buildings of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1877)

“Watty and Meg, or the Taming of the Shrew” (Paisley, 1792)

“Watty and Meg” (no place, 1795)

“Watty and Meg, or The Wife Reformed” (Glasgow, 1800, 1828)

“Watty and Meg” (Newcastle, 1801)

“Watty and Meg” (Falkirk, 1802, 1820)

“Watty and Meg, or The Wife Reformed,” The Port Folio, IV (July-December 1810) 368-377

“Watty and Meg” (Stirling, 1810)

American Ornithology

Alexander Wilson, American Ornithology, 9 volumes (Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808 1814)

American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, 9 volumes (Philadelphia: J. Laval and S.F. Bradford 1824-1825)

American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, 3 volumes (New York: Collins & Co. and Philadelphia: Harrison Hall, 1828-1829, London, 1839)

— and Charles Lucien Bonaparte, American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, ed. by Robert Jameson. 4 volumes. (Edinburgh: Constable & Co., 1831)

American Ornithology or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, with a continuation by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, 3 volumes. (London: Whittaker, Treacher & Arnot; Edinburgh: Stirling & Kenny, 1832)

Illustrations of the American Ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucien Bonaparte (Edinburgh: Frazer & Co., 1835)

American Ornithology or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States; reduced from the original work of Alexander Wilson, (London: William Spooner, n.d.)

Wilson’s American Ornithology, 1 volume (Boston: Otis, Broadus, and Company, 1840)

Wilson’s American Ornithology, 1 volume (New York: H.S. Samuels, 1852) (New York: Charles L. Cornish, 1854), 2 volumes (Philadelphia, 1856)

— and Charles Lucien Bonaparte, American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, 3 volumes (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1871)

— and Charles Lucien Bonaparte, American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, 3 volumes (London: Chatto and Windus, 1876)

— and Charles Lucien Bonaparte, American Ornithology: or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States, 3 volumes in 1 (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates 1878)

Other Prose Pieces

“Answer to Myrtillo (Dr. Nathaniel Potter of Baltimore)” The Port Folio II (August 1809) 151-153

“Oration on the Power and Value of National Liberty,” American newspapers (1801)

“Journal,” Poems, Humorous, Satirical, and Serious. Second edition. (Edinburgh: P. Hill, 1791)

“Letter from Lexington, April 4, 1810,” The Port Folio III (June 1810) 499-518

“Letter from Nashville, April 28, 1810,” The Port Folio IV (October 1810) 310-321

“Letter from Natchez, May 28, 1810,” The Port Folio VII (January 1812) 34-47

“Letter to the Editor of The Port Folio, July 16, 1811, (answering Incola of Lexington),” The Port Folio VI (August 1811) 109

“Letter to Thomas Jefferson. Washington, December 17, 1808” in James Southall Wilson, Alexander Wilson, Poet-Naturalist: A Study of His Life with Selected Poems (New York: Neale, 1906) 85

“Letter to Thomas Jefferson. Washington, December 24, 1818” in James Southall Wilson, Alexander Wilson, Poet-Naturalist: A Study of His Life with Selected Poems (New York: Neale, 1906) 86

“The Naturalist, No. II (Alligators),” The Port Folio II (July 1809) 51-55

“The Naturalist, No. III (Milkweed),” The Port Folio II (August 1809) 61-62

“The Naturalist, No. IV, Observations of the Nighthawk and Whipporwill of the United States,” The Port Folio II (September 1809) 197-199

“The Naturalist, No. V, On the Existence of Native Antimony in the United States,” The Port Folio II (November 1809) 426-429

“On the Study of Natural History, No. 1,” The Port Folio I (June 1809) 511-513

“The Solitary Philosopher,” Glasgow Bee (March 17, 1791)

“The Solitary Philosopher,” Collection of Ancient and Modern Characters (Paisley, 1805)

“Some Unpublished Letters of Alexander Wilson and John Abbot,” (“To William Bartram, Philadelphia, May 22, 1807,” “To Messrs. Bradford and Inskeep, New York, October 2, 1807,” “To John Abbot, Philadelphia, January 23, 1813”), The Auk XXIII (1906): 361-368.

(* denotes work of major significance to the study of Wilson)

John Abbot, The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia, 2 volumes (London: T. Bentley, 1797)

— “Notes on My Life,” ed. C. L. Remington, Lepidoterist News 2, 3 (1948).

“Alexander Wilson,” Allibone’s Dictionary of English Literature, III, 2765-66

“Alexander Wilson,” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, VI, 545-546

“Alexander Wilson,” Encyclopaedia Americana, (1927)

“Alexander Wilson,” Encyclopaedia Brittanica, (1927)

“Alexander Wilson,” Museum of Foreign Literature, XI, 399

“Alexander Wilson,” National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, (1892)

“Alexander Wilson,” New International Encyclopaedia (1916)

*Elsa Guerdrum Allen, “The History of American Ornithology Before Audubon,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, XLI, No. 3 (October 1951) 387-591

—”The American Career of Alexander Wilson,” Atlantic Naturalist, VIII, No. 2 (1952) 61-76

— “John Abbot, Pioneer Naturalist of Georgia,” The George Historical Quarterly 4, 3 (1957)

Sara Travers Lewis Anderson, Lewises, Meriwethers, and Their Kin (Richmond: Dietz Press, 1938)

William Anderson, “Alexander Wilson,” The Popular Scottish Biography (1842)

The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1880

Archaeological and Historical Collections County of Renfrew, Parish Lochwinnoch, 2 volumes (Paisley: Alex Gardner, 1890)

John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 4 volumes (London, 1827-1838 and New York: Macmillan Company, 1937)

The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon, the Naturalist (New York: 1868)

The Original Water-Colour Paintings by John James Audubon for the Birds of America, introduction by Marshall B. Davidson. (London: Michael Joseph Ltd., and the Connoisseur, 1966)

John Bakeless, Lewis and Clark (New York: 1947)

William Bennett, A Practical Guide to American Nineteenth Century Color Plate Books (New York, 1943)

James Leander Bishop, History of American Manufactures, 1608-1806, 2 volumes (Philadelphia, 1863-1867)

Matthew Blair, The Paisley Shawl (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1904)

The Paisley Thread Industry (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1907)

Michael Branch, “Indexing American Possibilities: The Natural History Writing of Bartram, Wilson, and Audubon,” in The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology, edited by Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996) 282-302

  1. Lucy Brightwell, Difficulties Overcome: Scenes in the Life of Alexander Wilson the Ornithologist (London, 1860)

David Brodie, A Short Set of Book-Keeping by Double Entry (Paisley: Nelson & Hay, 1831)

*Robert Brown, Paisley Poets, 2 volumes (Paisley: J. & J. Cook, 1889)

—- Paisley Burns Clubs 1805-1893 (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1893)

The History of Paisley, 2 volumes (Paisley, J. and J. Cook, 1886)

Robert Buchanan, The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon, third edition (London: Sampson, Low, Son & Marston, 1869)

Frank L. Burns, “Alexander Wilson” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 20 (1908) 1-18; no. 22 (1910) 79-96

— “Alexander Wilson: The Unsuccessful Lover,” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 64 (1908) 130-145.

— “The Mystery of the Small-Headed Flycatcher,” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 22 (1908) 63-79

— “The Making of the American Ornithology,” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 20 (1908) 165-185

— “The Completion of American Ornithology” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 21 (1909) 16-35

— “His Nomenclature” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 21 (1909) 132-151

— “Biographia, Portraits, and a Bibliography of the Various Editions of His Works” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 21 (1909) 165-186

— “His Early Life and Writings,” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 22 (1910) 79-96

— “Miss Malvinia Lawson’s Recollections of Ornithologists,” The Auk, no. 34 (1917) 275-282

Robert Burns, The Canongate Burns, ed. Andrew Noble (Edinburgh: Canongate Classic, 2001)

Robert Burns’ Literary Correspondence, ed. William Wallace (London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1938)

Robert Burns and Mrs. Dunlop, Correspondence, ed. William Wallace (London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1898)

  1. H. Butterfield, John Witherspoon Comes to America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953)

Dr. Charles Caldwell, Autobiography (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1855)

James Thomson Callendar, The Political Process of Britain (Edinburgh, 1792)

The Trial of James Thomson Callendar for Sedition (Richmond, 1800)

Sir Rom de Camden, “Memorable Facts in the Lives of Memorable Americans,” Potter’s American Monthly and Illustrated Magazine (January-June, 1875) 263-267

*Robert Cantwell, Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1961)

Albert Pruden Carman, Thomas Carman and Phoebe Prudence Carman (Urbana-Champaign, Ill: 1935)

Daniel K. Cassell, History of the Rittenhouse Family (Germantown, Pa., 1849)

Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands: Containing the Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects, and Plants, third edition, 2 volumes, (London: 1771). (First edition of each volume 1731 and 1743).

Robert Chambers, “Alexander Wilson,” A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, IV (1814) 514

— “Alexander Wilson,” Cyclopaedia of English Literature, II (Edinburgh: 1844, 1876) 812-813

John Chancellor, Audubon—A Biography (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1978)

Bayard Christy, “Wilson’s Ohio River Journey,” The Cardinal, no. 6 (July, 1925) 6-12

— “Wilson’s Pittsburgh Subscribers,” The Cardinal, no. 6 (July, 1925) 13-15

Daniel Clark, Proofs of Corruption of General James Wilkinson (Philadelphia, 1809)

DeWitt Clinton, “Alexander Wilson,” American Medical and Philosophical Register, IV (1814) 514

Varnum Lansing Collins, President Witherspoon, 2 volumes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1925)

Contemporaries of Burns and the More Recents Poets of Ayrshire, (Edinburgh: Paton, Carber and Gilder, 1840)

Lane Cooper, “Travellers and Observers, 1763-1846,” Cambridge History of American Literature, Volume 1, Book II, Chapter 1 (New York, 1917)

  1. S. Cotterell, “The Natchez Trace,” Tennessee Historical Magazine (April 1921)

Elliott Coues, “Private Letters of Wilson, Ord and Bonaparte,” Penn Monthly 10 (1879) 443-455

Edward J. Cowan and Mike Paterson, Folk in Print: Scotland’s Chapbook Heritage, 1750-1850 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2007)

Henry Coyle, “Alexander Wilson, the Great Naturalist,” The Chautuaquan, New Series IX (October 1893-1894) 180-184

David Craig, Scottish Literature and the Scottish People, 1680-1830 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961)

Andrew Crawfurd, “Some Incidents in the Life of Alexander Wilson, Collected in the Parish of Lochwinnoch,” The Paisley Magazine I.11 (November 1828)

George Crawfurd, The History of the Shire of Renfrew, continued by William Semple (Paisley: Alex Weir, 1782)

A General Description of the Shire of Renfrew, continued by George Robertson (Paisley: J. Nielson, 1818)

*Thomas Crichton, “The Life of the Author,” Poems by Alexander Wilson, Author of American Ornithology, with an Account of His Life and Writings (Paisley: 1816)

— “Memoir of Wilson,” The Weavers Magazine and Literary Companion, volume 1 (Paisley: John Nielson, 1819)

— “Memoir of the Life and Writings of John Witherspoon D D, late president of the College of New Jersey,” Edinburgh Christian Register (n.d.)

— “Biographical Sketches of the Late Alexander Wilson. Letters to a Young Friend” Weaver’s Magazine and Literary Companion, II (Paisley: J. Neilson, 1819)

Robert Hartley Cromek, “Alexander Wilson,” Select Scottish Songs, 2 volumes (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1810) 211-225

Robert Cummings, Essay Delivered at the Pantheon on Thursday, April 14, 1791, on the question “Whether the exertions of Allan Ramsay or Robert Fergusson have done most to honor Scottish Poetry” (Edinburgh, 1791)

Poems on Several Occasions, with The History of Mrs. Wallace (Edinburgh, 1791)

John Cunningham, The Church History of Scotland, 2 volumes (Edinburgh, 1882)

William Darlington, Memorial of John Bartram and Henry Marshall (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakison, 1849)

John Bathurst Dickson, The Life, Labors, and Genius of Alexander Wilson (Paisley: James Cooke, 1856)

William Dunlap, History of the Arts of Design in the United States (Boston: Goodspeed, 1918)

Evart A. Duyckinck, “Alexander Wilson,” Cyclopaedia of American Literature I (Philadelphia, 1856, 1881) 565-575

Michael Durey, Transatlantic Radicals and the Early American Republic (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1997)

Ernest Earnest, John and William Bartram, Botanists and Explorers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1940)

Bela Bates Edwards, “Alexander Wilson,” Biography of Self-Taught Men (Boston, 1846) 594

George Edwards, A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, 1743-1751: Gleanings of Natural History, 1750-1764, 7 volumes in 3. London, in 4 parts between 1743 and 1751 (1743, 1747, 1750, 1751); in 3 parts between 1758 and 1764.

Frank N. Egerton, “Wilson, Alexander (1766–1813),” Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2004),

Andrew Ellicott, Journal (Philadelphia, 1797)

Major Charles Winslow Elliot, Winfield Scott (New York: Macmillan, 1937)

Harold Milton Ellis, Joseph Dennie and His Circle (University of Texas, 1915)

Joseph Fulford Folsom, Bloomfield Old and New (Bloomfield, New Jersey, 1912)

Wurthington Chauncey Ford, Thomas Jefferson and James Thomas Callendar (Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1912)

Joseph Foster, Members of Parliament—Scotland, 1357-1882 (London, 1882)

Colonel Fullerton, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Ayr (Edinburgh, 1793)

Dorsey Gardner, “Alexander Wilson, Ornithologist,” Scribner’s Monthly, XI (1876) 690-703

David Gilmour, Paisley Weavers of Other Days (Edinburgh, 1898)

The Glasgow Advertiser (1793)

Henry Grey Graham, The Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1964)

Rufus Wilmot Griswold, “Alexander Wilson,” Prose Writers of America (Philadelphia: 1847) 187

Francis Groome, ed., Ordnance Survey (London: Mackenzie, 1902)

Alexander B. Grosart, “Memorial—Introduction,” The Poems and Prose of Alexander Wilson” (Paisley, 1876) xvii-lv

Alexander Hamilton, Observation on Certain Documents written by Himself (Philadelphia, 1796-1800)

William Maxwell Hetherington, Memoir of Alexander Wilson, (Edinburgh: Constable, 1831)

William Hector, Selections from the Judicial Records of Renfrewshire (Paisley, J. & J. Cook, series 1, 1876; series 2, 1878)

  1. F. Henderson, “Burns and Lesser Scottish Verse,” Cambridge History of English Literature XI (n.d.) 224-270

Francis Hobart Herrick, Audubon the Naturalist, 2 volumes (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1917)

Lawrence E. Hicks, “An Account of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Club Held in Pittsburgh, December 28-30, 1934, with the Details of an Exhibition of Wilsoniana.” The Wilson Bulletin, n.d.

Philip Marshall Hicks, The Development of the Natural History Essay in American Literature (Philadelphia, 1924)

Thomas O. P. Hiller, “Alexander Wilson,” English and Scottish Sketches (London, 1857) 277-284

Clark Hunter, “Alexander Wilson: Paisley Poet and American Ornithologist,” Scotland’s Magazine 68, 6 (June 1972)

*— The Life and Letters of Alexander Wilson (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1983)

Thomas Hunter, “Notes on the Literature of Paisley an District,” series of articles in Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette, February to November 1952.

*Thomas Smith Hutcheson, “Memoir of Wilson,” The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson (Belfast, 1844, 1845, 1853, 1857)

Clarence J. Hyslander, American Scientists (New York: Macmillan, 1935)

  1. J., “Bi-centenary of a Naturalist: Alexander Wilson—Paisley’s Most Gifted Son.” Paisley Daily Express (6 July 1966)

John W. Jorner, ed. Colonial Families of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1911)

James Ripley Jacobs, Tarnished Warrior: Major General James Wilkinson (New York: Macmillan, 1938)

Charles William Janson, The Stranger in America (London, 1807)

*William Jardine, “Life of Alexander Wilson,” Wilson and Bonaparte’s American Ornithology I (London, 1832) ix-cv

—”Memoir of Wilson,” The Naturalist’s Library, volume 40 (Edinburgh, 1843)

—”Memoir of Wilson,” Birds of Great Britain and Ireland, volume 4 (London, 1876)

Thomas H. Johnston, Oxford Companion to American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966)

Joseph Kastner, A World of Naturalists (London: John Murray, 1978)

John Kay, A Series of Original Portraits, 2 volumes (Edinburgh: Hugh Patton, 1837, 1842).

  1. Cameron Lees, The Abbey of Paisley (Paisley, 1878)

Tom Leonard, ed., Radical Renfrew: Poetry from the French Revolution to the First World War (Ediburgh: Polygon, 2001)

Charles Robert Leslie, Autobiographical Recollection, ed. Tom Taylor, 8 volumes (London, 1860)

“Life and Writings of Alexander Wilson,” Renfrewshire Magazine (April 1847) 283

“List of Pieces Written by Alexander Wilson, Now in Philadelphia,” Paisley Repository, no. 20 (1810)

Benson John Lossing, “Alexander Wilson,” Eminent Americans (New York, 1857) 181

William MacKean, Letters Home During a Trip in America 1869 (Paisley, 1875)

Norman MacKeen, An Eighteenth Century Lodge in Paisley (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1909)

  1. T. Mann and H. D. Traill, Social England (London: Cassell, 1909)

Park Marshall, “The True Route of the Natchez Trace,” Tennessee Historical Magazine (September, 1915)

Catherine van Cortland Mathews, Andrew Ellicott, His Life and Letters, (New York: 1908)

William Smith McClellan, Smuggling in the American Colonies (1912)

Liam McIlvanney, Burns the Radical: Poetry and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (East Lothian: Tuckwell, 2002)

Robert Meek, A Biographical Sketch of the Life of James Tytler (Edinburgh, 1805)

Henry Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution (Glasgow, 1912)

Scotland (New York: Nielson, 1947)

“Memoir of Wilson,” in Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson (Paisley, 1859)

Memoir of Alexander Wilson of Paisley (Philadelphia: Carey and Lea, 1836)

Men Who Have Risen (London: J. Hagy & Co., n.d.)

William Metcalfe, A History of Paisley, Scotland, 600-1908 (Paisley: Gardner, 1909)

  1. H. Millar, A Literary History of Scotland (New York, 1903)

Elizabeth Montgomery, Reminiscences of Wilmington (Philadelphia, 1851)

*William Motherwell, The Harp of Renfrewshire (Paisley: J. Lawrence, Jr., 1819)

— ed. The Paisley Magazine (Paisley: David Dick, 1828)

Norman Murray, The Scottish Hand Loom Weavers, 1790-1850: A Social History (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1978)

*Andrew Noble, “Displaced Persons and the Renfrew Radicals,” in Bob Harris, ed., Scotland in the Age of the French Revolution (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2005) 196-225

Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, Philadelphia, a History of the City and its People, (Philadelphia, n.d.)

*George Ord, “Life of Alexander Wilson,” The Port Folio, Series III, II (July-December, 1813): 345-353

—”The Life of Wilson,” Rees’ Cyclopaedia, XL (Philadephia: 1814)

—”Sketch of the Author’s Life,” American Ornithology (Philadephia, 1814)

Sketch of the Life of Alexander Wilson (Philadelphia: Harrison Hall, 1828)

—”The Life of Wilson,” American Ornithology (Philadephia, 1825)

—”Life of Wilson, Author of American Ornithology” (Philadelphia, 1828)

Paisley Directory (Paisley: Nielson, 1812)

The Paisley Magazine (Paisley: David Dick, 1828) 582-585; 632-635.

John Parkhill, The History of Paisley (Paisley: Robert Stewart, 1857)

Allan Park Paton, Alexander Wilson the Ornithologist: A New Chapter in His Life (London: Longman, Greens, & Co., 1863)

William B. O. Peabody, “Life of Alexander Wilson,” Library of American Biography, ed. Jared Sparks, volume II (Boston: Hilliard and Gray, 1839)

Ebenezer Picken, Poems and Epistles, Mostly in the Scottish Dialect with Glossary (Paisley: John Neilson, 1788)

Charles Pierce, A Meteorological Account of the Weather in Philadelphia from January 1, 1790 to January 1, 1847 (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston)

Jessie Poesch, Titian Ramsay Peale 1799-1825 and His Journals of the Wilkes Expedition. Memoirs of Amer. Philos. Soc. , volume 52 (Philadephia, 1961)

William H. Prescott, Charles Brockden Brown (Boston, 1832)

James Purdy, “A Relative of Alexander Wilson,” The Auk XII (1895) 396

Frederick Pursh, Flora Americae Septentrionalis. A Systematic Arrangement and Description of the Plants of North America, 2 volumes (London: White, Cockrane & Co., 1814)

  1. D. Ramsay, The Smugglers’ Trade (London: Royal Historical Society, 1952)

Philip A. Ramsay, Views of Renfrewshire (Edinburgh: Lizars, 1834)

Samuel N. Rhoads, “George Ord,” Cassinia 12 (1908)

*Laura Rigal, “Empire of Birds: Alexander Wilson’s American Ornithology,” in Art and Science in America, edited and introduced by Amy R. W. Meyers (San Marino: Huntington Library Press, 1998) 61-96

“Romance of Bartram’s Garden,” Philadelphia Press, (May 3, 1896) 8

  1. Ross, ed., The Book of Scottish Poems: Ancient and Modern (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1882)

Dunbar Rowland, Encyclopedia of Mississippi History (Madison, Wis., 1909)

Mrs. Dunbar Rowland, Marking the Natchez Trace (Mississippi Historical Society, 1910)

Life, Letters and Papers of William Dunbar (Jackson, Mississippi: Mississippi Historical Society, 1930)

St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia, Historical Catalogue 1749-1907 (Philadelphia, 1907)

Mrs. Horace St. John, Audubon, the Naturalist in the New World, His Adventures and Discoveries (New York, 1856)

Frederick Saunders, The Story of Some Famous Books (London, 1887)

  1. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Wescott, History of Philadelphia (Philadelpha, 1884)

Scottish Journal of Topography, Antiquities, Traditions, Etc. , volume 1 (September 1847 to February 1848) and volume 2 (March-July 1848), esp. 228-232 and 245-247.

David Semple, The Poems and Songs and Correspondence of Robert Tannahill (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1876)

  1. C. B. Seymour, Self-Made Men (New York: 1858) 215-233

Elizabeth A. Sharp, William Sharp (Fiona MacLeod) (London: William Heinemann, 1910)

Henry Simpson, The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians (Philadelphia, 1859) 968-969

Sir John Sinclair, The Statistical Record of Scotland (Edinburgh: William Creech, 1793)

  1. Vrooman Smith, “Scenes from the Life of Alexander Wilson,” Oologist (1893-1894)

James Speed, “Alexander Wilson,” Ten Outdoor Men (New York, 1929) 73-86

Witmer Stone, “Some Unpublished Letters of Alexander Wilson and John Abbot,” The Auk 23, 4 (1906)

—”Alexander Wilson,” Leading Men of Science, ed. David Starr Jordan (New York: 1910)

—”Alexander Wilson, the Father of American Ornithology,” Nature Magazine VIII (1926) 29-30

—”A Tablet to Wilson,” The Auk XL (1923) 575

—”Note on the Hundredth Anniversary of Wilson’s Death,” The Auk XXX (1913) 622

—”Review of James Lane Allen’s The Kentucky Warbler,” The Auk XXXVII (1920) 174

—”Some Early American Ornithologists,” Bird Lore VII (1905) 265-268

Emerson Stringham, Alexander Wilson, a Founder of Scientific Ornithology (Kerrville, Texas, 1958)

Alexander Tait, Poems and Songs (Paisley, 1790)

Robert Tannahill, Poems and Songs, ed. David Semple (Paisley: Alex. Gardner, 1900)

Mrs. H. J. Taylor, “Alexander Wilson: A Sketch,” The Wilson Bulletin XL (1928) 75-84

Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazeteer of Scotland, 2 volumes (Edinburgh: Fullerton, 1854)

Spencer Trotter, “Alexander Wilson,” Library of the World’s Best Literature” (New York, 1876) 16017-16018

Samuel Marion Tucker, “The Beginning of Verse 1610-1808,” Cambridge History of American Literature I, Chapter IX (New York, 1917)

Gavin Turnbull, Poetical Essays (Glasgow: David Niven, 1788)

John Veitch, The Feeling For Nature in Scottish Poetry (Edinburgh and London, 1887)

Joseph M. Wade, “Alexander Wilson,” Ornithologist and Oologist, Vol. XVIII, No. 5 (May 1893) 65-67

Hugh Walker, Three Centuries of Scottish Literature, 2 volumes (Glasgow, 1893)

Townsend Ward, “Second Street and Its Associations,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. IV (1880)

— “A Walk to Darby,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. III (1879)

  1. M. Weed, Stories from Comparison of the Writings of Audubon, Wilson, etc. (Chicago: Rand, McNally and Co., 1904)

Robert Henry Welker, Birds and Men: American Birds in Science, Art, Literature, and Conservation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955) 18-58

Francis Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (Published by the authority of Congress, Government Printing Office, 1889)

State Trials in the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1849)

James Wilkinson, Memoirs of My Own Time (Philadelphia, 1816)

Samuel Cole Williams, Early Travels in the Tennessee Country (Johnson City, Tenn., 1928)

“Wilson the Ornithologist,” The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, and Sciences, London (September 3 & October 15, 1831)

Alexander Wilson, Memoirs of Alexander Wilson (Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1831)

James Grant Wilson, “Alexander Wilson,” The Poets and Poetry of Scotland, 2 volumes (New York: Harpers, 1876 and London: Blackie & Son, 1877) 418-427

*James Southall Wilson, Alexander Wilson, Poet-Naturalist: A Study of His Life with Selected Poems (New York: Neale, 1906)

  1. B. Woodward, “Alexander Wilson,” Dictionary of National Biography (1900)

William Jay Youman, “Alexander Wilson,” Popular Science Monthly XXXVI (November 1889-April 1890) 400-407

— “Alexander Wilson,” Pioneers of Science in America (New York, 1896)

Michael Ziser, “Alexander Wilson,” Early American Nature Writers: A Biographical Encyclopedia, ed. Daniel Patterson (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008) 288-293

Theses and Dissertations

Gordon Wilson, “Alexander Wilson: Poet-Essayist-Ornithologist,” dissertation, Indiana University, 1930

William T. Hamilton, “Alexander Wilson’s America,” dissertation, University of Minnesota 1971

Elizabeth Fairhead, “Bartram’s Garden and Natural History in Philadelphia, 1790-1825,” dissertation, Michigan State University, 2005

Full Colophon Information

Location: British America
Format: introduction