This essay shows how in The Gentle Shepherd Allan Ramsay engages in the complex work of "pastoral improvement" on an individual and national scale and foresees--to a point--how his work will be received in the decades and even centuries to come. After situating his work within the uprising of the Galloway Levellers, pastoral, and the early work of agricultural improvement, I consider how the concept of improvement shapes the reception of his work in the Linley-Tickell production of the 1780s--including a surprising appearance from the Shakespearean forger, William Henry Ireland--and the key role The Gentle Shepherd plays in "The Young West-Indian," a story by Lydia Maria Child, one of the most influential authors in the United States during the 19th century. These case studies help to establish The Gentle Shepherd as the most major of minor texts in that hybrid thing called eighteenth-century British literature, bringing together music, image, and text to imagine and question the idea and practice of improvement for individuals and nations.
"'Some Pastoral Improvement' in The Gentle Shepherd: Mediation, Remediation, and Minority,"
Studies in Scottish Literature:
Available at: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/ssl/vol46/iss2/7