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pitied me sincerely, who were little able to pay the returning coach-hire, able to assist me, the majority of and my health will not be mended those, to whom I was known, excused by a journey on foot of more than themselves by blaming me for im- twenty miles. But I shall soon be prudence which they again began to relieved from a life which has lost perceive in my conduct, and set me all interest for me, except for my charitably down as one of those who child; for the energy of my constiwas destined, as they said, never to tution and spirits is no more, and I do any good.
shall surely soon meet my husband “ I am now working at my busi- and my son in a better world." ness in great discouragement and By this time we had got among mean circumstances, for I am a bro- the smoky manufactories on the ken-hearted womn, who am now south side of Glasgow, and after unable to bear, as formerly, the in- giving my sorrowful widow some solence of the prosperous, and the refreshment, we parted, and I have chiding of customers, who are never seen her no more. to be pleased with the efforts of one I would have visited her afterwho is bowed down with poverty and wards, for I was deeply interested in the depression and humiliation of her fate, but what can the poor do misfortune. I often get impatient for the poor who are unhappy, but of the harassing and mean bargain- listen to their complaints, and give making of some who live in plenty them that unfeigned and pure comthemselves, yet would have the pin- passion, which is indeed a balm to gling labour of the poor widow for aftliction, but which is seldom to be nothing: I have just been to Kil- looked for from any but those who marnock, with the view of improve are themselves afflicted, and who are ing a little my health ; but I am un unable to afford others any real relief.
ADDRESS TO LOVE.
Yet, would'I not from all conceal,
Nor yet to all confess, the zeal
No-I thy empire would disown
To every heart, save one alone.
Which only one bright glance should pierce;
And when I sing my tender verse
I still would have each meaning tone
Be understood by one alone.
The wound, inflicted by thy dart,
From all save one responsive heart,
Still Fate some trials may ordain,
Of power to make me boast my chain.
Be to reverse of fortune born,
Meet from the world un feeling scorn,
Then would I throw disguise aside,
Then would my passion be my pride.
With him the world's gay pleasures fly;
And with thy fond attentions try
Then should this truth, O Love! be known,
ESSAY ON THE GENIUS OF BURNS.
A Poet (a title synonimous with are open to the same charge. They that of Prophet in the ancient lan- read, but they do not fully underguages,) finds, it is said, no honour stand. It was a point of patriotism in his own country. Burns, at least, with Burns, as well as an accommois an exception to this rule. Few dation to his muse, to write in the poets have been more abundantly language of his native spot; and honoured in their own country, and even in his songs, notwithstanding in their own times, than has the poet the repeated hints and observations of Ayrshire. It is still, however, of Thomson, who felt anxious only a question, on this side of the Esk, to ensure for his work the widest whether Burns really be a poet of possible circulation, Burns could the genuine and imperishable kind, not be prevailed upon to discard the and worthy, without any reserves, peculiar dialect of his neighbourof taking his station beside such hood. Many readers are not aware men as Gay, Collins, Goldsmith, of their immense loss, in not being Thompson, and Cowper; or is sur familiar with these peculiarities.rounded by a false lustre, raised by The poetry of sentiment or of paspartiality, national pride, and the sion cannot, indeed, be easily disparticular circumstances of his ori- guised, or misunderstood. Where gin, character, station, and habits the current of feeling is broad, deep, of living
and rapid, its course cannot be diIn the daily declining state of the verted or greatly impeded by the language, in which the better, as rudeness and irregularity of the well as the greater part of the poems channel. But the spirit of descripof Burns are written, exists an in- tive poetry is often so subtle and so superable and growing obstacle to volatile, that it resides in minute a just appreciation of his merits. and scarcely distinguishable points, -In this respect, he resembles, in and escapes in the omission or alsome degree, a painter, who has teration, not merely of a sentence, made use of colours which will not but of a word. Take, for example, stand. The grouping, the outline, the opening line of that very
humorthe proportion, and something of
ous and admirably told story of the expression of character still re “Death and Dr. Hornbook :". main, but the spirit and gusto are flown ;, and that, which once was « The clachan yill had made me canty." fraught with life and vigour, is become meagre, vapid, and inanimate. Are there many English readers, For no reference to the glossary can who, instead of recoiling from this suffice to give that perfect relish of ultra-provincial line, will enter into the poet, which is possessed by those the impudent hilarity of the potwho read his works in their mother valiant hero, as completely as they tongue, and understand the nice dis would do, in reading the English tinctions, and are familiar with the translation? various associations of words, which, to the most enlightened stranger,
6 The village ale had made me jolly." appear indifferent or synonimous. A ridiculous, if not contemptible Without a thorough acquaintance affectation of admiring the Scottish with the dialect of the West of Scotdialect has, indeed, sprung up lately, land, as with a distinct tongue, the in company with the celebrated no entire sense of this, and a variety of vels, Waverley, Guy Mannering, &c. other passages which might be easily But that it is an affectation, and cited, is lost upon the reader. Anonothing more, is very obvious to ther example may be taken from the those who are really acquainted with “ Twa Dogs," a tale replete with exthe language, customs, manners, and quisite touches of nature, but written deportment of the mass of the Scottish in a style so perfectly Scottish, that people. A considerable portion of Englishmen, who have not studied the readers and admirers of Burns the language of North Britain, must
find it as unintelligible as if it were with any thing of the same characWelsh or Irish:
ter in the English language; while “ At kirk or market, mill or smiddie,
the “Cotter's Saturday Night,"“ Man Nae tawted tyke, tho' e'er sae duddie,
was made to Mourn," and, indeed, But he wad stan't as glad to see him,
nearly all the English poems, though And stroan't on stanes an' billocks wi' they bear strong marks of genius, him.”
and the first especially contains a
faithful and animated picture of the Let the fancied admirers of Burns manners of the Scottish peasantry, look to it. Enough is said to put are written, nevertheless, in a narthem on their guard against the de row and somewbat squalid kind of lusion of believing, that they know sentiment, which leaves an uncomthe value of the jewels, when, in fortable impression on the reader's truth, they have not yet seen the mind. It was Burns's misfortune interior of the casket.
to be poor, and to feel some of the To return to the subject proposed hardest consequences of poverty in at the commencement of these re- his youth. Had not the experiment marks, the genius of Burns, which been made so unrelentingly, and at is undervalued by some, in conse such an early age, his strength of quence of and in proportion to, the mind would, most probably, bare extravagance of the estimate made brought him to a just appreciation by others. Burns appears to have of wealth. As it happened, he fell been one of those beings, whose into the vulgar affectation of despiss minds are so delicately constructed, ing. it, and adopted the practice of as to be incapable of preserving their indiscriminately reviling its possestone for any length of time, or under sors; a conduct which never fails to any but the most favourable circum- betray discontent and envy lurking stances. He seems to have been in the heart. It was the chilly air formed for the most exquisite enjoy of poverty alone which depressed ments; but as the keenest edge is the mercury in Burns's constitution. the most easily turned, and the It was his nature to be revelling in highest polish is the most suscepti- the summer heat of mirth and jueuble of blemish, so the temper of larity; and the best of his poenis Burns, by collision with uncongenial are those, which were composed under minds and adverse fortune, sustained the influence of this his predominant irreparable injury. His humour, his passion. benevolence, and his ardent love From these remarks it is to be appear natural; but his occasional inferred, that Burns excelled in joy: melancholy, and even illiberal in- ous, light-hearted descriptions of vective, sit awkwardly upon him. the manners and characters of the His wit, though, as it has been just Scottish peasantry, and in a light remarked, not easily understood by and delicious humour, sometimes English readers in general, is of the bordering on the satirical, such as rarest and most felicitous kind; his
we find in the “ Lines on Captain philanthropy conspicuous, when ac Grose's Peregrination through Scotcidental vexation does not depress land,” the “ Address to the Deil," the his spirits; and his particular attach- "Lines to (pardonit, delicate reader!) ments, whether of the nature of
a Louse," and several others, which it friendship or of love, to his “ Davie" is needless to mention. Not that or his "Jean,” ardent in the highest there is wanting a strain of sweet degree. It may seem strange to a pathos, equally removed from mirth superficial observer of the character and despondency, that, in “the Lines of Burns, that he has succeeded
to a Mountain Daisy," the “ Death ratherin his humourous attempts than and Dying Words of Poor Maillie,” his grave ones. “Tamo’Shanter," the &c, and the “Lines to a Mouse, on ** Address to the Deil,” • Holy Fair," turning upherNest with the Plough, "Death and Dr. Hornbook," " the raise the poet to a more exalted station
“ Scotch Drink," and on the heights of Parnassus, than is Lines on Captain Grose’s Peregrina- usually assigned to the tuneful votation,” are among the happiest efforts ries of Euphrosyne. Nothing, perof his muse, and will bear comparison haps, that was ever written, exceeds
in beauty the following stanza in the burthen of one of his songs, and the “Lines to a Mountain Daisy:" shews the fancy of the poet prevail
ing over his greatest fault: “ Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet, The bonny lark companion meet,
« Oh, why should Fate sic pleasure have, Bending thee 'mang the dewy wet,
Life's dearest bands untwining;
Or why sae sweet a flower as Love
Depend on Fortune's shining ?"
In his songs Burns was particuIt is to be regretted, that in each larly happy, if we except certain of these last mentioned pieces, there awkward English attempts to exceed should be a tendency to that fault
the limits of his powers.
It must which has been before observed, have been observed, that there is an a vulgar declamation against the eager and pernicious curiosity in partiality of Fortune. I'here is a what Sterne would have called “Incertain meanness in the sentiments quisitive Readers," to know how and contained in the “ Death and Dying in which way poetry is made, as if it Words of Poor Maillie,” which is far were like conjuring on a pack of from captivating; and the reflec cards. The publication of every tions, which conclude the other two scrap of the correspondence between poems, are equally painful and un Burns and Thomson the bookseller, just. How much is it to be wished, which forms the major part of the that poets were always pre-eminently fourth volume of Currie's edition, versed in moral philosophy; and re
is an endeavour to gratify this appegretted that the talent of conveying, tite. In this we are admitted into with all the force which imagination the very workshop, as it may be can lend, the sentiments which are to called, of the bard and his publisher. impress our minds, imbue our charac. There we have songs made to the ters, and influence our conduct, is not measure of old tunes, turned, taken invariably united with the profound- in, pieced, furbished, and re-fitted. est knowledge, and most perfect judg; Here is snicking at one thought and ment. Had Burns been as sound stretching at another; trimming this a moral philosopher as he was expression and unpicking that. a fine poet, what effect might he What has a reader to do with all have given to the rising wisdom of this? If it be true that a grocer has our age! And who but must lament no fondness for figs, or a pastrythat, in his “ Epistle to a Young cook for sweetmeats, it is rational Friend,” he should have condescended to suppose that a bookseller has but to inculcate such meanness and dissi- little taste for literary compositions. mulation as this!
He should therefore be more discreet 6 An' free aff hand your story tell,
than to run the hazard of surfeiting When wi' a bosom crony;
the public by admitting them into But still keep something to yoursel,
his very kitchen, and allowing
them You scarcely tell to ony.
a perusal of his receipt book. There Conceal yoursel' as weel's you can,
are some dishes which are most deFrae critical dissection;
licious when made, but which would But keek through every ither man,
be insufferable if we were to know Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.” or see the process of their composi
tion; and it is not certain that à vo. But enough has been said on this lume of poems is not a dish of this part of the character of Burns's description. It is certainly destroymind. It is much more grateful to ing the sweet illusion, under which contemplate the sweetness and plea a reader of poetry loves to repose, santry of his happier style. At this when he is forced to turn his eyes moment occurs a verse, which forms from effect to contrivance; from the
It is a strange coincidence that Burns himself should have made use of this very same figure of the furnisher of “our troublesome disguises.” In one of his letters to Thomson, inclosing a song, is the following passage :-“ Well, this is not amiss; you see how I answer your orders; your tailor could not be more punctual."
contemplation of a beautiful form to bition to be able to compose a Scots the operations of the anatomist pad air. Mr. Clarke, partly by way of dling in its entrails. And hence the joke, told him to keep to the black dislike to the publication of all the keys of the harpsichord, and preletters between Thomson and Burns. serve some kind of rythm, and he This sort of literary gossip is seldom would infallibly compose a Scots air. very respectable or very interesting, Certain it is, that in a few days, but in the present instance it is in a Miller produced the rudiments of an more than ordinary degree objec air which Mr. Clarke, with some tionable. Although many of the
touches and corrections, fashioned songs in Thomson's collection are into the tune in question. Ritson, exceedingly beautiful, and especially you know, has the same story of the those of the livelier sort, there are, black keys, but this account which I in a considerable number, very evi- have just given you, Mr. Clarke indent marks of the goad. And lest formed me of several years ago. these marks should escape the obser. Now, to shew you how difficult it is vation of even the most
unsuspecting to trace the origin of our airs, I have reader, the figure of Thomson, sit- heard it in Ireland among the old ting on the crupper of the bard's women, while on the other hand, a Pegasus and spurring him on with- countess informed me, that the first out mercy or consideration, is dis- person, who introduced the air into played at full length in every page this country, was a baronet's lady of of a whole volume. This is most her acquaintance, who took down imprudent even in the practice of the notes from an itinerant piper in book-making.
the Isle of Man. How difficult then If any one doubt the truth of to ascertain the truth respecting our what has been said respecting the poetry and music! I myself hare inferiority of those songs, which were lately seen a couple of ballads sung written in the poet's melancholy through the streets of Dumfries, mood, let him compare “ Where
with my name at the head of them war's deadly blast was blown,” as the author, though it was the “ How can my poor heart be glad,
first time I had ever seen them." and “ True hearted was he, the sad
That Burns was a man of genius swain of the Yarrow," with “Green no one can doubt. That his tempegrow the rushes, O!” “ Duncan rament was happy, seems equally inGray," " Last May a brave woer disputable. It is pleasing to dwell cam' down the lane glen,” and “Oh! on the spontaneons productions of for ane and twenty Tam,” and re his fertile imagination; to follow tain his doubt if he can. By the him in his poetic rambles; to be way, in turning over this volume, with him “at hame, a-field, at wark, we find a very curious anecdote, or leisure," and to feel with him that which is not altogether unworthy of it is being extracted. It is part of one “ Sweet to stray and pensive ponder of Burns' letters. “ There is an air,
A heart-felt sang." • The Caledonian Hunt's delight,' to “Tam o'Shanter” is perhaps the very which I wrote a song that you will best tale that was ever written, and find in Johnson, Ye banks, and “ 0! whistle, and I'll come to you, braes o' bonny Doon.' This air, I my lad,” one of the very best of think, might find a place among lively, songs. your hundred, as Lear says of his It is a pity that Burns had a sol. knights. Do you know the history dier's funeral. His remains should of this air? It is curious enough. have been very differently attended. A good many years ago, Mr. James But sacred be the spot where he lies, Miller, writer in your good town, a and may the hearts and voices of the gentleman whom possibly you know, Scottish yonth be for ever warm and was in company with our friend clear, that his verse may be honoured Clarke, and talking of Scottish mu for ages yet to come. sic, Miller expressed an ardent am
J. C. H.