Mayne, John (DNB00)

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MAYNE, JOHN (1759–1836), Scottish poet, was born at Dumfries, 26 March 1759. Educated in the local grammar school, he became a printer in the office of the ‘Dumfries Journal.’ In 1782 he accompanied his family to Glasgow, where he was engaged for five years in the publishing house of the brothers Foulis. In 1787 he settled in London, first as a printer, and then as proprietor and joint editor of the ‘Star,’ an evening paper, in which he inserted several of his poems. He had written poetry in Dumfries, and after 1777 he occasionally contributed poems to ‘Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine,’ Edinburgh. Between 1807 and 1817 several of his lyrics appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ Although expressing in verse a strong desire to revisit Dumfries, Mayne never realised his wish. He died at Lisson Grove, London, 14 March 1836.

Mayne's ‘Siller Gun,’ descriptive of a Dumfries wapinschaw (wherein the competitors are members of the corporations, and the prize a silver cannon-shaped tube presented by James VI), consisted of twelve stanzas when it appeared in 1777. Enlarged to two cantos in 1779, and to three and four in 1780 and 1808 respectively, it took final shape in five cantos with notes in 1836. It is vivacious and humorous, conceived and worked in the spirit of ‘Peblis to the Play.’ Scott considers it superior to anything of Fergusson's and approaching the excellence of Burns (note to Lady of the Lake, v. 20). Mayne's ‘Hallowe'en,’ published in ‘Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine,’ in November 1780, probably stimulated Burns's brilliant treatment of the same theme (Chambers, Life and Work of Burns, i. 154, ed. 1851). ‘Logan Braes,’ which appeared in the ‘Star,’ 23 May 1789, is a song so daintily attuned to the old Scottish spirit and manner that Burns, thinking it a vagrant of an early master, appropriated two of its lines in a ‘Logan Braes’ of his own. ‘Glasgow,’ a poem of description and characterisation, published in the ‘Glasgow Magazine’ in December 1783, was favourably noticed in the ‘Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland,’ i. 451, and was enlarged and issued in 1803. In the same year Mayne published a patriotic address entitled ‘English, Scots, and Irishmen.’

[Gent. Mag. May 1836; Grant Wilson's Poets and Poetry of Scotland; MacDowall's Dumfries, p. 724; Chambers's Scottish Songs prior to Burns.]

T. B.