Bethune, John (1812-1839) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

BETHUNE, JOHN (1812–1839), poet, a younger brother of Alexander Bethune [q. v.], was born, like him, at Upper Rankeillor, Monimail, Fifeshire, in 1812. In 1813 his parents removed to Lochend, near the Loch of Lindores. He never received any school education. He was taught to read by his mother, and writing ana arithmetic by his brother Alexander. The two lads, from the thirteenth year of the elder, earned their living by breaking stones on the road between Lindores and Newburgh. John, having been apprenticed to weaving in the village of CoUessie, became so expert in the craft that in 1825 he set up looms for himself in a house immediately adjoining his Other's, and with Alexander for apprentice. The failure of the trade all over Scotland in this year ruined them all. The two brothers returned to their former occupation of outdoor labourers. Alexander tells how John would eagerly seize any scrap of white paper that onerea itself whereon to write out his poems. Before 1831 he had a large collection of manuscripts of the most miscellaneous sort. In October 1829 he was a day-labourer on the estate of Inchtyre. His integrity and capacity in this humble position 80 commended him to the proprietor that, on the death in 1835 of the overseer, he was appointed his successor at a salary of 26l. per annum, with fodder for a cow, and with his brother for assistant. Unfortunately the estate changed hands, and the situation was lost. In 1838, to Alexander's 'Tales and Sketches of the Scottish Peasantry ' he contributed five pieces. In 1889 appeared ' Lectures on Practical Economy ' by both brothers. In the title-page he describes himself as a 'Fifeshire Forester.' Under the same signature of a 'Fifeshire Forester' he contributed many poems to the two Scottish periodicals called the 'Scottish Christian Herald' and the 'Christian Instructor' — the latter under the editorship of Dr. Andrew Thomson. In 1838 his health failed; he therefore gave up manual labour, and endeavoured to gain a livelihood out of literary work. He died of consumption on Sunday, 1 Sept. 1839, in his twenty-seventh year.

[Authorities cited under Bethune, Alexander; local inquiries.]

A. B. G.