ROBERT NICOLL (1814-1837), Scottish poet, was born on the 7th of January, 1814, at the farm of Little Tullybeltane, in the parish of Auchtergaven, Perthshire. When Robert was five years old his father was reduced to poverty. He became a day-labourer, and was only able to give his son a very slight education. At sixteen the boy was apprenticed to a grocer and wine-merchant at Perth. In 1833 he began to contribute to Johnstone's Magazine (afterwards Tait's Magazine), and in the next year his apprenticeship was cancelled. He visited Edinburgh, and was kindly received there, but obtained no employment. He opened a circulating library at Dundee, but in 1836 he became editor of the He held pronounced Radical opinions, and overtaxed his slender physical resources in electioneering work for Sir William Molesworth in the summer of 1837. He was obliged to resign his editorship, and died at the house of his friend William Tait, at Trinity, near Edinburgh, on the 7th of December 1837, in his twenty-fourth year. He had published a volume of Poems in 1835; and in 1844 appeared a further volume, Poems and Lyrics, with an anonymous memoir of the author by Mrs C. I. Johnstone. The best of his lyrics are those written in the Scottish dialect. They are simple in feeling and expression, genuine folk-songs.
An eloquent appreciation of his character and his poetry was included in Charles Kingsley's article on "Burns and his School" in the North British Review for November 1851. See also P. R. Drummond, Life of Robert Nicoll, Poet (1884).
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