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had thus been prevented from legitimatizing according to the Scottish law.

social life, my reputation for bookish knowledge, a certain wild logical talent, and a strength of thought something like the rudiments of good sense; and it will not seem surprising that I was generally a welcome guest where I visited, or any great wonder that always, where two or three met together, there was I among them." In this state of mind he entered recklessly upon a dissipated career, giving loose to his passions, and indulging his taste for literature with as much irregularity and skill as he applied himself to the plough, the scythe, and the reaping-hook. To use his own expression, "Vive l'amour, et vive la bagatelle," were his sole principles of action. In his nineteenth year, he passed some time at a school, where he learnt mensuration, surveying, &c., and also improved himself in other respects, particularly in composition; which he attributes chiefly to a perusal of a collection of letters, by the wits of Queen Anne's reign.

In a state of mind bordering closely on insanity, Burns now resolved to fly the country; and, after some trouble, he agreed with Dr. Douglas, who had an estate in Jamaica, to go thither as overseer, Before sailing, however, he was advised, by his friends, to publish his poems by subscription, in order to provide him with necessaries for the voyage, and he consented to this expedient, as an experiment which could not injure, and might essentially benefit him. Subscribers' names were obtained for about three hundred and fifty copies, and six hundred were printed. The collection was very favourably received by the public, and the author realized, all expenses deducted, a profit of about twenty pounds. "This sum," says he, " came very seasonably; as I was thinking of indenting myself, for want of money to procure my passage. As soon as I was master of nine guineas, the price that was to waft me to the torrid zone, I took a steerage passage in the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde; for

"Hungry ruin had me in the wind.'

In his twenty-third year, partly, as he says, through whim, and partly that he wished to set about doing something in life, he entered the service of a flax-dresser, at Irvine, for the purpose of learning his trade; but an accidental fire, which burnt down the shop, put an end to his speculations. After his father's death, which occurred in February, 1784, he took the farm of Mossgiel, in conjunction with his brother Gilbert. "I entered on it," says Burns, "with a firm resolution, 'Come, go to, I will be wise! I read farming books; I calculated crops; I attended markets; and, in short, in spite of the devil, the world, and the flesh,' believe I should have been a wise man ; but, the first year, from unfortunately buying bad seed, the second, from a late harvest, we lost half our crops. This overset all my wisdom, and I returned like the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."" In other words, he resigned the share of the farm to his brother, and returned to habits of intemperance and irregularity. It was during his occupation of the farm of Mossgiel, that Burns first became acquainted with Jane Armour, his future wife. This lady was the daughter of a respectable mason, in the village of Mouchline, where she was at the time the reigning toast. The consequence of this acquaintance, which quickly ri-ral curiosity and interest, and was an acceptable pened into mutual love, was soon such that the guest in the gayest and highest circles. He also connexion could no longer be concealed; and, though received, from the literati of the day, every tribute the details of this story are, perhaps, as yet but of praise which the most sanguine author could imperfectly known, it seems, at least, certain, that desire. Burns was anxious to shield the partner of his imprudence to the utmost in his power. It was, therefore, agreed between them, that he should give her a written acknowledgment of marriage, and then immediately sail for Jamaica, and push his fortune there, and that she should remain with her father until her plighted husband had the means of supporting a family. This arrangement, however, did not satisfy the lady's father; who, having but a very indifferent opinion of Burns's general character, was not to be appeased, and prevailed on his daughter to destroy the document, which was the only evidence of her marriage. Under these circumstances, Jane Armour became the mother of twins, and the poet was summoned by the parish officers to find security for the maintenance of children which he

"I had been some days skulking from covert to covert, under all the terrors of a jail; as some illadvised people had uncoupled the merciless pack of the law at my heels. I had taken the last farewell of my few friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock; I had composed the last song I should ever measure in Caledonia-The Gloomy Night is Gathering Fast; when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a friend of mine overthrew all my schemes, by opening new prospects to my poetic ambition." This was a recommendation to him to proceed to Edinburgh, to superintend the publication of a second edition of his poems; and he accordingly turned his course to the Scotch metropolis, which he reached in September, 1786. He had already been noticed with much kindness by the Earl of Glencairn, the celebrated Professor Stewart and his lady, Dr. Hugh Blair, and others; and his personal appearance and demeanour exceeding the expectation that had been formed of them, he soon became an object of gene

Edinburgh, says Dr. Currie, contained, at this period, many men of considerable talents, who were not the most conspicuous for temperance and regularity. Burns entered into several parties of this description with the usual vehemence of his character. His generous affection, and brilliant imagination, fitted him to be the idol of such associations; and, by indulging himself in these festive recreations, he gradually lost a great portion of his relish for the purer pleasures to be found in the circles of taste, elegance, and literature. He saw his danger, and, at times, formed resolutions to guard against it; but he had embarked on the tide of dissipation, and was borne along its stream.

After having sojourned for nearly a year in the Scottish metropolis, and acquired a sum of money

more than sufficient for his present demands, he determined to gratify a desire he had long entertained shade," of visiting some of the most interesting districts of his native country. For this purpose he left Edinburgh on the 6th of May, 1787; and after visiting various places celebrated in the rural songs of Scotland, he returned to his family in Mossgiel, where he arrived about the 8th of July. The reception he met with at home was enthusiastic; and among those who were now willing to renew his acquaintance, was the family of Jane Armour, with whom Burns was speedily reconciled. After remaining for a few days only at Mossgiel, he made a short tour to Inverary, and afterward to the highlands, whence he returned to Edinburgh, and remained there during the greater part of the winter of 1787-8, again entering freely into society and dissipation. Having settled with his publisher, in February, 1788, he was delighted to find there was a balance due to him, as the actual profit of his poems, of nearly 5007. At this juncture, he was confined to the house "with a bruised limb, extended on a cushion ;" but as soon as he was able to bear the journey, he rode to Mossgiel, advanced his brother Gilbert (who was struggling with many difficulties) the sum of 2007., married Jane Armour, and, with the remainder of his capital, took the farm of Elliesland, on the banks of the Nith, six miles above Dumfries.

A short time previously to this, it should be mentioned, that Burns had obtained, through a friend, an appointment in the excise; but with no intention of making use of his commission except on some reverse of fortune. He now took possession of his farm; but as the house required rebuilding, Mrs. Burns could not, for some time, remove thither, a circumstance peculiarly unfortunate, as it caused him to lead a very irregular and unsettled life. The determination, which he had formed, of abandoning his dissipated pursuits was broken in upon, and his industry was frequently interrupted by visiting his family in Ayrshire. As the distance was too great for a single day's journey, he generally spent a night at an inn on the road, and on such occasions, falling into company, all his resolutions were forgotten. Temptation also awaited him nearer home he was received at the tables of the neighbouring gentry with kindness and respect, and these social parties too often seduced him from the labours of his farm, and his domestic duties, in which the happiness and welfare of his family were now involved. Mrs. Burns joined her husband at Elliesland, in November, 1788; and as she had, during the autumn, lain-in of twins, they had now five children-four boys and a girl. On this occasion, Burns resumed, at times, the occupation of a labourer, and found neither his strength nor his skill impaired. Sentiments of independence cheered his mind,-pictures of domestic content and peace rose on his imagination, and a few "golden days" passed away, the happiest, perhaps, which he had ever experienced. But these were not long to last: the farming speculation was soon looked on with despondence, and neglected; and the excise became the only resource. In this capacity, in reference to which beggarly provision for their bard, Mr. Coleridge indignantly calls upon his friend Lamb,

to gather a wreath of henbane-nettles and night


-To twine The illustrious brow of Scotch nobility," poor Burns was necessarily brought into contact with low associates, and intemperance soon became his tyrant. Unable to reconcile the two occupations, his farm was in a great measure abandoned to his servants, and agriculture but seldom occupied his thoughts. Meantime, there were seldom wanting persons to lead him to a tavern; to applaud the sallies of his wit; and to witness at once the strength and degradation of his genius. The consequences may be easily imagined: at the expiration of about three years, he was compelled to relinquish his lease, and to rely upon his income of 701. per annum, as an exciseman, till he should obtain promotion. With this intention, he removed to a small house in Dumfries, about the end of the year 1791. In 1792, he contributed to Thomson's collection of Scottish songs; and, about the same time, formed a sort of book society in his neighbourhood. In the mean time, he appears to have given offence to the board of excise, by some intemperate conduct and expressions relative to the French revolution, particularly in attempting to send a captured smuggler as a present to the French convention; and an inquiry was in consequence instituted into his conduct. The result was, upon the whole, favourable; but an impression, injurious to Burns, was still left upon the minds of the commissioners, and he was told that his promotion, which was deferred, must depend on his future behaviour. This seems to have mortified him keenly, and to have made him feel his dependent situation as a degradation to his future fame. "Often," he says, in a letter to a gentleman, giving an account of the above circumstances, “in blasting anticipation, have I listened to some future hackney scribbler, with heavy malice of savage stupidity, exultingly asserting that Burns, notwithstanding the fanfaronade of independence to be found in his works, and after having been held up to public view and to public estimation as a man of some genius, yet quite destitute of resources within himself to support his borrowed dignity, dwindled into a paltry exciseman; and slunk out the rest of his insignificant existence in the meanest of pursuits, and among the lowest of mankind."

It seems, however, that the board of excise did not altogether neglect Burns, who was, the year previous to his death, permitted to act as a supervisor. From October, 1795, to the January following, illness confined him to his house; but, going out a few days after, he imprudently dined at a tavern, and returned home about three o'clock in a very cold morning, benumbed and intoxicated. This occasioned a severe relapse, and he soon himself became sensible that his constitution was sinking, and his death approaching. He, however, repaired to Brow, in Annandale, to try the effects of sea-bathing; which, though it relieved his rheumatic pains, was succeeded by a fresh accession of fever, and he was brought back to his own house in Dumfries, on the 18th of July, 1796. He remained for three days in a state of feebleness, accompanied by occasional delirium, and expired on the 21st of

July, in the thirty-eighth year of his age. He was interred, with military honours, by the Dumfries volunteers, to which body he belonged, and his remains were followed to the grave by nearly ten thousand spectators. He left a widow and four sons, for whom the inhabitants of Dumfries opened a subscription, which, in itself considerable, was augmented by the profits of the edition of his works, in four volumes, octavo, published in 1800, by Dr. Currie, with a life of the poet.

Burns was within two inches of six feet in height, with a robust, yet agile frame; a finely formed face, and an uncommonly interesting countenance. His well-raised forehead indicated great intellect, and his eyes are described as having been large, dark, and full of ardour and animation. His conversation was rich in wit and humour, and occasionally displayed profound thought, and reflections equally serious and sensible; for no one possessed a finer discrimination between right and wrong. Though his moral aberrations, for which he felt the keenest remorse, have been exaggerated, the latter years of his life were undoubtedly disgraceful, both to the man and to the poet; yet, amid his career of intemperance, he preserved a warmth and generosity of heart, and an independence of mind not less surprising or peculiar than his genius.

A nod, accompanied by a significant movement of
the forefinger, brought Kate to the doorway or trance,
and I was near enough to hear the following words
distinctly uttered: Kate, are ye mad? D'ye no
ken that the supervisor and me will be in upon you
in the course of forty minutes? Guid-by to ye at
present.' Burns was in the street, and in the midst
of the crowd in an instant; and I had reason to
know that his friendly hint was not neglected. It
saved a poor widow woman from a fine of several
pounds."-Though totally free from presumption,
in the presence of the superior circles of society to
which he was admitted, he did not hesitate to ex-
press his opinions strongly and boldly. A certain
well-known provincial bore, as Mr. Lockhart de-
scribes him, having left a tavern-party, of which
Burns was one, he, the bard, immediately demanded
a bumper, and, addressing himself to the chair, said,
"I give you the health, gentlemen all, of the waiter
that called my Lord -out of the room."
was no mean extemporizer; and the following verse
is said to have been introduced by him, in a song,
in allusion to one of the company who had been
boasting, somewhat preposterously, of his aristo-
cratic acquaintances:

"Of lordly acquaintance you boast,

And the dukes that you dined wi' yestreen,
Yet an insect's an insect at most,
Though it crawl on the curl of a queen."

The poetry of Burns, who has acquired almost equal fame by his prose, is now too universally acknowledged and appreciated, to require further analysis or criticism. "Fight, who will, about words and forms," says Byron, "Burns's rank is in the first class of his art ;" but, as Mr. Lockhart observes,

Mr. Lockhart, in his life of Burns, gives several instances, which show that " he shrunk with horror and loathing from all sense of pecuniary obligation, no matter to whom." In answer to a letter from Mr. Thomson, enclosing him 57. for some of his songs, he says, "I assure you, my dear sir, that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary parcel. It degrades me in my own eyes. However, to return it would savour of affectation; but, as to any more traffic of that debtor and creditor kind, I swear, by that honour" to accumulate all that has been said of Burns, which crowns the upright statue of Robert Burns's even by men like himself, of the first order, would integrity on the least motion of it, I will indig-fill a volume." We shall conclude, therefore, with nantly spurn the by-past transaction, and from that an observation of Mr. Campbell, that "viewing moment commence entire stranger to you."-The him merely as a poet, there is scarcely another following anecdote is told of him in his character of regret connected with his name, than that his proexciseman, by a writer in the Edinburgh Literary ductions, with all their merit, fall short of the talents Journal, who saw him at Thornhill fair. "An in- which he possessed." formation," he says," had been lodged against a poor widow woman, of the name of Kate Wilson, who had ventured to serve a few of her old country friends with a draught of unlicensed ale, and a lacing of whisky, on this village jubilee. I saw him enter her door, and anticipated nothing short of an immediate seizure of a certain gray beard and barrel, which, to my personal knowledge, contained the contraband commodities our bard was in quest of.


Burns's character is, upon the whole, honestly drawn by his own pen, în the serio-comic epitaph, written on himself, concluding with the following verse:

"Reader, attend-whether thy soul
Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
In low pursuit ;
Know, prudent, cautious self-control,
Is wisdom's root."

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The dearest comfort o' their lives, Their grushie weans an' faithfu' wives; The prattling things are just their pride, That sweetens a' their fire side.

An' why les twalpennie worth o' nappy Can mak the bodies unco happy; They lay aside their private cares, To mend the kirk and state affairs; They'll talk o' patronage and priests, Wi' kindling fury in their breasts, Or tell what new taxation's coming, An' ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.

As bleak-faced Hallowmass returns, They get the jovial, ranting kirns, When rural life, o' ev'ry station, Unite in common recreation; Love blinks, Wit slaps, an' social Mirth, Forgets there's care upo' the earth.

That merry day the year begins, They bar the door on frosty winds; The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream, An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam; The luntin pipe, an' sneeshin mill, Are handed round' wi' richt guid will; The cantie auld folks crackin crouse, The young anes rantin through the house,My heart has been sae fain to see them, That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.

Still it's owre true that ye hae said, Sic game is now owre aften play'd. There's monie a creditable stock, O' decent, honest, fawsont fo'k, Are riven out baith root and branch, Some rascal's pridefu' greed to quench, Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster In favour wi' some gentle master, Wha, aiblins, thrang a-parliamentin, For Britain's guid his saul indentin


Haith, lad, ye little ken about it;
For Britain's guid! guid faith! I doubt it,
Say rather, gaun as premiers lead him,
An' saying ay or no's they bid him,
At operas an' plays parading,
Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading;
Or may be, in a frolic daft,

To Hague or Calais takes a waft,
To make a tour, an' tak a whirl,
To learn bon ton, an' see the warl'.

There, at Vienna or Versailles He rives his father's auld entails; Or by Madrid he takes the rout, To thrum guitars, and fecht wi' nowt; Or down Italian vista startles, Wh-re-hunting among groves o' myrtles ; Then bouses drumly German water, To mak himsel look fair and fatter, An' clear the consequential sorrows, Love-gifts of carnival signoras. For Britain's guid! for her destruction! Wi' dissipation, feud, an' faction.


Hech man! dear sirs! is that the gate They waste sae mony a braw estate ! Are we sae foughten an' harass'd For gear to gang that gate at last!

O would they stay aback frae courts, An' please themsels wi' kintra sports, It wa'd for every ane be better, The laird, the tenant, and the cotter! For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies, Fient haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows; Except for breakin o' their timmer, Or speakin lightly o' their limmer, Or shootin o' a hare or moor-cock, The ne'er a bit they're ill to poor fo'k.

But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar, Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure? Nae cauld nor hunger e'er can steer them, The vera thought o't need na fear them.


L-d, man, were ye but whyles where I am, The gentles ye wad ne'er envy 'em.

It's true they need na starve or sweat, Through winter's cauld, or simmer's heat; They've nae sair wark to craze their banes, An' fill auld age wi' gripes an' granes: But human bodies are sic fools, For a' their colleges and schools, That when nae real ills perplex them, They make enow themselves to vex them; An' aye the less they hae to sturt them, In like proportion less will hurt them. A country fellow at the pleugh, His acres till'd, he's right eneugh; A kintra lassie at her wheel, Her dizzens done, she's unco weel: But gentlemen, an' ladies warst, Wi' ev'ndown want o' wark are curst. They loiter, lounging, lank, an' lazy; Though deil haet ails them, yet uneasy; Their days, insipid, dull, an' tasteless; Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless; An' e'en their sports, their balls an' races, Their galloping through public places. There's sic parade, sic an' art, pomp, The joy can scarcely reach the heart. The men cast out in party matches, Then sowther a' in deep debauches;

Ae night they're mad wi' drink an' wh-ring,
Niest day their life is past enduring.
The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters,
As great and gracious a' as sisters;
But hear their absent thoughts o' ither,
They're a' run deils an' jads thegither.
Whyles o'er the wee bit cup an' platie,
They sip the scandal portion pretty;
Or lee-lang nights, wi' crabbit leuks
Pore owre the devil's pictured beuks;
Stake on a chance a farmer's stackyard,
An' cheat like onie unhang'd blackguard.

There's some exception, man an' woman; But this is gentry's life in common.

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