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Equally non-committal is the minute of a grant made
on September 20, 1581, by the Glasgow civic authorities
to one Robert Semple in Dumbarton of £13, 6s. 8d. for
“ outsetting of the pastyme to the Kingis Majestic.” 1
From internal evidence also Sibbald was satisfied that
the author of Philotus was to be identified with Robert
Semple, the poet of the three specimens in the Bannatyne
Manuscript.2 But vague generalisations as to “ style and
manner ” do not carry much conviction. Nor is the
indecency which is common to the Semple ballads in the
Bannatyne Manuscript and to Philotus any very distinc¬
tive feature in early Scots literature. A more tempting
line of argument would be to connect certain possible
French traits of Philotus with Robert Semple’s residence
in Paris3; but documents fail. In the absence, then,
of more convincing evidence as to Semple’s author¬
ship, the controversy as to the identity of the poet and
ballad-writer Robert Semple with the fourth Lord Sempill
need not detain us. Dates alone would preclude any
possibility that the fourth Lord Sempill could be the writer
or producer of Birrel’s play in 1568. Sibbald’s computa¬
tion that Lord Sempill was then about twenty-seven
must be rejected. According to more recent evidence he
was at most not more than five years of age at that time.4
No manuscript of Philotus is known to have survived,
and the earliest edition is that printed by Robert Charteris
1 Glasgow Burgh Records, Vol. i. p. 469.
2 Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, iii. 397.
3 Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. Sempill, Robert (1530 I-1595).
1 Sibbald, loc. cit. ; Irving, op. cit., 436-7 ; Motherwell, The Harp
of Renfrewshire, p. xvii.; Stevenson, op. cit., pp. vii. ff. ; J. W. Mackenzie,
Philotus, Bannatyne Club, pp. ii. ff. ; James Cranstoun, Satirical Poets
of the Time of the Reformation, Vol. i. pp. xxv. ff. ; Balfour Paul, The
Scots Peerage, Vol. vii. p. 551.

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