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ROBERT [the elder] SEMPILL (c. 1530-1...

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 634 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ROBERT [the elder] SEMPILL (c. 1530-1595), Scottish ballad-writer, was in all probability a cadet of illegitimate birth of the noble house of Sempill or Semple. Very little is known of his life. He appears to have spent some time in Paris. He was probably a soldier, and must have held some office at the Scottish court, as his name appears in the lord treasurer's books in February 1567—1568, and his writings show him to have had an intimate knowledge of court affairs. He was a bitter opponent of Queen Mary and of the Catholic Church. Sempill was present at the siege of Leith (1559—1560), was in Paris in 1572, but was driven away by the massacre of St Bartholomew. He was probably present at the siege of Edinburgh Castle (1573), serving with the army of James Douglas, earl of Morton. He died in 1595. His chief works are: " The Ballat maid vpoun Margret Fleming callit the Flemyng bark "; " The defence of Crissell Sandelandis "; " The Claith Merchant or Ballat of Jonet Reid, ane Violet and Ane Quhyt," all three in the Bannatyne MS. They are characterized by extreme coarseness, and are probably among his earlier works. His chief political poems are " The Regentis Tragedie," a broadside of 1570; " The Sege of the Castel of Edinburgh " (1573), interesting from an historical point of view; " Ane Complaint vpon fortoun ... " (1581), and "The Legend of the Bischop of St Androis Lyfe callit Mr Patrik Adamsone " (1583). See Chronicle of Scottish Poetry (ed. James Sibbald, Edinburgh, 1802) ; and"Essays on the Poets of Renfrewshire," by William Mother..well, in The Harp of Renfrewshire (Paisley, 1819; reprinted 1872). Modern editions of Sempill are: " Sege of the Castel of Edinburgh," a facsimile reprint with introduction by David Constable (1813); The Sempill Ballates (T. G. Stevenson, Edinburgh, 1872) containing all the poems; Satirical poems of the Reformation (ed. James Cranstoun, Scottish Text Soc., 2 vols., 1889-1893), with a memoir of Sempill and a bibliography of his poems. SEMUR-EN-AUXOIS, a town of eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Cote-d'Or, 45 M. W.N.W. of Dijon on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) 3278. Semur occupies one of the finest sites in France, on the extremity of a plateau dominating the river Armancon, which surrounds the town on three sides. The river forms this extremity into a peninsula which is occupied by the old town, once surrounded by ramparts, the remains of which are still to be seen. An isthmus, on which stands the castle, unites the older to the newer quarter, in which are situated an old gateway of the 15th century and the church of Notre-Dame. This building, which belongs mainly to the 13th century, is one of the purest examples of Gothic architecture in Burgundy, though the narrowness of the nave, to some degree, spoils its proportions. The portal with its three arched openings projects from the facade, which is flanked by two square towers surmounted by balustrades. Of the artistic features of the interior one of the most noteworthy is the sculptured keystone of the vaulting of the apse, representing the crowning of the Virgin. The castle (13th and 14th centuries) consists of a rectangular keep flanked by four towers. Portions of it are still in use. Among the numerous old houses in the town is one belonging to the time of Louis XIV. of which the last proprietor was Florent Claude du Chatelet, husband of the friend of Voltaire. It is now used as a hospital. Semur possesses a sub-prefecture, a tribunal of first instance and a communal college. It is an important market centre for the Auxois and Morvan, and has trade in horses, grain, sheep, fruit and vegetables. Cement, leather, oil, and chemical manures are among its industrial products. Semur (Sinemurum) was a Gallic fortress in the dark ages and in feudal times a castle of the dukes of Burgundy. In the Kith century it became capital of Auxois. Its communal charter dates from 1276. The incorporation of Burgundy with France was resisted by the town, which was taken and pillaged by the royal troops in 1478. During the wars of religion in the 16th century it served as refuge for the Leaguers, and though it submitted to Henry IV. at his accession its fortifications were destroyed in 1602. S$NAC DE MEILHAN, GABRIEL (1736—1803), French writer, son of Jean Senac, physician to Louis XV., was born in Paris in 1736. He entered the civil service in 1762; two years later he bought the office of master of requests, and in 1766 further advanced his position by a rich marriage. He was successively intendant of La Rochelle, of Aix and of Valenciennes. In 1776 he became intendant-general for war, but was soon compelled to resign. He had hoped to be made minister of finance, and was disappointed by the nomination of Necker, of whom he became a bitter opponent. He was intimate with the comtesse de Tesse, sister of the duc de Choiseul, and in 1781 met Madame de Crequy, then sixty-seven years of age, and began a long friend-ship with her. His first book was the fictitious Memoires d' Anne de Gonzague, princesse palatine (1786), thought by many.people at the time to be genuine. In the next year followed the Considerations sur les richesses et le luxe, combating the opinions of Necker; and in 1788 the more valuable Considerations sur l'esprit et les mceurs, a book which abounds in sententious, but often excessively frank, sayings. Senac witnessed the beginnings of the Revolution in Paris, but emigrated in 1790, making his way first to London, and then, in 1791, to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he met Pierre Alexandre de Tilly, who asserts in his Memoirs that Senac attributed the misfortunes of Louis XVI. to the refusal of his own services. In 1793, while his recollections of the Revolution were still fresh, he wrote a novel, L'Emigre (Ham-burg, 4 vols., 1797), which shows perspicacity and good judgment in its treatment of events. It was reprinted in 1904 in an abridged form by Casimir Stryienski and Frantz Funck-Brentano. At the invitation of Catherine II. Senac went in 1792 to Russia; where he hoped to become imperial historiographer, but his manners displeased Catherine, who contented herself with dismissing him with a pension. From Russia he went to Hamburg. and thence to Vienna, where he found a friend in the prince de Ligne. He died on the 16th of August 1803. Senac also wrote a moderate exposition of the causes that led to the revolution, entitled Du gouvernement, des m curs et des conditions en France avant la Revolution, avec les caracteres des principaux personnages du regne de Louis X VI; the last part was reprinted (1813) by the duc de Levis with a notice of the author as Portraits et caracteres. Senac collected his own G uvres philosophiques et lilteraires (2 vols.) at Hamburg in 1795. See his Euvres choisies, edited by M. de Lescure in 1862; Lettres inedites de Madame de Crequi a Senac de Meilhan (1856), edited by Edouard Fournier; Louis Legrand, Senac de Meilhan et l'intendance du Hainaut et du Cambresis (1868); and the notice by Fernand Caussy prefixed to his edition (1905) of the Considerations sur l'espril et les mceurs.
End of Article: ROBERT [the elder] SEMPILL (c. 1530-1595)
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