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verse, and the lover, whether in joy or sorrow, will find that Burns has anticipated every throb of his heart :

'Every pulse along his veins,
And every roving fancy.'

He was the first of our northern poets who brought deep passion and high energy to the service of the muse, who added sublimity to simplicity, and found loveliness and elegance dwelling among the cottages of his native land. His simplicity is graceful as well as strong; he is never mean, never weak, never vulgar, and but seldom coarse. All he says is above the mark of other men: his language is familiar, yet dignified; careless, yet concise; and he touches on the most ordinary—nay, perilous themes, with a skill so rare and felicitous, that good fortune seems to unite with good taste in helping him through the Slough of Despond, in which so many meaner spirits have wallowed. No one has greater power in adorning the humble, and dignifying the plain -no one else has so happily picked the sweet fresh flowers of poesy from among the thorns and brambles of the ordinary paths of existence.

The excellence of Burns,' says Thomas Carlyle-a true judge, is, indeed, among the rarest, whether in poetry or prose; but at the same time it is plain and easily recognized-his sincerity—his indisputable air of truth. Here are no fabulous woes or joys; no hollow fantastic sentimentalities; no wire-drawn refinings either in thought or feeling: the passion that is traced before us has glowed in a living heart; the opinion he utters has risen in his own understanding, and been a light to his own steps. He does not write from hearsay, but from sight and experience: it is the scenes he has lived and laboured amidst that he describes; those scenes, rude and humble as they are, have kindled beautiful emotions in his soul, noble thoughts, and definite resolves; and he speaks forth what is in him, not from any outward call of vanity or interest, but because his heart is too full to be silent. He speaks it, too, with such melody and modulation as he can-in homely rustic jingle-but it is his own, and genuine. This is the grand secret for finding readers, and retaining them: let him who would move and convince others, be first moved and convinced himself.'

It must be mentioned, in abatement of this high praise, that Burns occasionally speaks with too little delicacy. He violates without necessity the true decorum of his subject, and indulges in hidden meanings and allusions, such as the most tolerant cannot applaud. Nor is this the worst: he is much too free in his treatment of matters holy. He ventures to take the Deity to task about his own passions, and the order of nature, in a way less reverent than he employs when winning his way to woman's love. He has, in truth, touches of profanity which make the pious shudder. In the warmth of conversation such expressions might escape from the lips; but they should not have been coolly sanctioned in the closet with the pen. These deformities are not, however, of frequent occurrence; and, what is some extenuation, they are generally united to a noble or natural sentiment. He is not profane or indecorous for the sake of being so: his faults, as well as his beauties, come from an overflowing fulness of mind.

His songs have all the beauties, and none of the faults, of his poems. As compositions to be sung, a finer and more scientific harmony, and a more nicely-modulated dance of words were required, and Burns had both in perfection. They flow as readily to the music as if both the air and verse had been created together, and blend and mingle like two uniting streams. The sentiments are from nature; and they never, in any instance, jar or jangle with the peculiar feeling of the music. While humming the air over during the moments of composition, the words came and took their proper places, each according to the meaning of the air: rugged expressions could not well mingle with thoughts inspired by harmony.

In his poems Burns supposes himself in the society of men, and indulges in reckless sentiments and unmeasured language: in his songs he imagines himself in softer company: when woman's eye is on him he is gentle, persuasive, and impassioned; he is never boisterous; he seeks not to say fine things, yet he never misses saying them; his compliments are uttered of free will, and all his thoughts flow naturally from the subject. There is a natural grace and fascination about his songs; all is earnest and from the heart: he is none of your millinery bards who deal in jewelled locks, laced

garments, and shower pearls and gems by the bushel on youth and beauty. He makes bright eyes, flushing cheeks, the music of the tongue, and the pulses' maddening play, do all. Those charms he knew came from heaven, and not out of the tirewoman's basket, and would last when fashions changed. It is remarkable that the most naturally elegant and truly impassioned songs in the language were written by a ploughman-lad in honour of the rustic lasses around him.

If we regard the songs of Burns as so many pastoral pictures, we will find that he has an eye for the beau ties of nature as accurate and as tasteful as the happiest landscape painter. Indeed, he seldom gives us a finished image of female loveliness without the accompaniment of blooming flowers, running streams, waving woods, and the melody of birds: this is the frame-work which sets off the portrait. He has recourse rarely to embellishments borrowed from art; the lighted hall and the thrilling strings are less to him than a walk with her he loves by some lonely rivulet's side, when the dews are beginning to glisten on the lilies and weigh them down, and the moon is moving not unconsciously above them. In all this we may recognize a true poet-one who felt that woman's loveliness triumphed over these fragrant accompaniments, and who regarded her still as the blood-royal of life,' the brightest part of creation.

Those who desire to feel, in their full force, the songs of Burns, must not hope it from scientific singers in the theatres. The right scene is the pastoral glen; the right tongue for utterance is that of a shepherd lass; and the proper song is that which belongs to her present feelings. The gowany glen, the nibbling sheep, the warbling birds, and the running stream, give the inanimate, while the singer herself personates the living beauty of the song. I have listened to a country girl singing one of his songs, while she spread her webs to bleach by a running stream-ignorant of her audience-with such feeling and effect as were quite overpowering. This will keep the fame of Burns high among us; should the printer's ink dry up, ten thousand melodious tongues will preserve his songs to remote generations.

The variety, too, of his lyrics is equal to their truth and beauty. He has written songs which echo the feelings of every age and condition in life. He personates

all the passions of man and all the gradations of affec tion. He sings the lover hastening through storm and tempest to see the object of his attachment-the swelling stream, the haunted wood, and the suspicious parents, are all alike disregarded. He paints him again on an eve of July, when the air is calm, the grass fragrant, and no sound is abroad save the amorous cry of the partridge, enjoying the beauty of the evening as he steals by some unfrequented way to the trysting thorn, whither his mistress is hastening; or he limns him on a cold and snowy night, enjoying a brief parley with her whom he loves, from a cautiously opened window, which shews her white arm and bright eyes, and the shadow perhaps of a more fortunate lover, which accounts for the marks of feet impressed in the snow on the way to her dwelling. Nor is he always sighing and vowing; some of his heroes answer scorn with scorn, are saucy with the saucy, and proud with the proud, and comfort themselves with sarcastic comments on woman and her fickleness and folly; others drop all allegiance to that fantastic idol beauty, and while mirth abounds, and the wine-cup shines in light,' find wondrous solace. laughs at the sex one moment, and adores them the next-he ridicules and satirizes-he vows and entreats -he traduces and he deifies-all in a breath. Burns was intimate with the female heart, and with the romantic mode of courtship practised in the pastoral districts of Caledonia. He was early initiated into all the mysteries of rustic love, and had tried his eloquence with such success among the maidens of the land, that one of them said, 'Open your eyes and shut your ears with Rob Burns, and there's nae fear o' your heart; but close your eyes and open your ears, and you'll lose it.'


Of all lyric poets he is the most prolific and various. Of one hundred and sixty songs which he communicated to Johnson's Museum, all, save a score or so, are either his composition, or amended with such skill and genius as to be all but made his own. For Thomson he wrote little short of a hundred. He took a peculiar pleasure in ekeing out and amending the old and imperfect songs of his country. He has exercised his fancy and taste to a greater extent that way than antiquarians either like or seem willing to acknowledge. Scott, who performed for the ballads of Scotland what

Burns did for many of her songs, perceived this:-'The Scottish tunes and songs,' he remarked, 'preserved for Burns that inexpressible charm which they have ever afforded to his countrymen. He entered into the idea of collecting their fragments with the zeal of an enthusiast; and few, whether serious or humorous, passed through his hands without receiving some of those magic touches, which, without greatly altering the song, restored its original spirit, or gave it more than it previously possessed. So dexterously are those touches combined with the ancient structure, that the rifacciamento, in many instances, could scarcely have been detected without the avowal of the Bard himself. Neither would it be easy to mark his share in the individual ditties. Some he appears to have entirely rewritten; to others he added supplementary stanzas; in some he retained only the leading lines and the chorus; and others he merely arranged and ornamented.' No one has ever equalled him in these exquisite imitations: he caught up the peculiar spirit of the old song at once; he thought as his elder brother in rhyme thought, and communicated an antique sentiment and tone to all the verses which he added. Finer feeling, purer fancy, more exquisite touches of nature, and more vigorous thoughts, were the result of this intercourse. Burns found Scottish song like a fruit-tree in winter, not dead, though unbudded; nor did he leave it till it was covered with bloom and beauty. He sharpened the sarcasm, deepened the passion, heightened the humour, and abated the indelicacy of his country's lyrics.

To Burns's ear,' says Wilson-a high judge in all poetic questions- the lowly lays of Scotland were familiar, and most dear were they all to his heart. Often had he "sung aloud old songs that are the music of the heart;" and, some day, to be able himself to breathe such strains was his dearest, his highest ambition. His genius and his moral frame were thus embued with the spirit of our old traditionary ballad poetry; and, as soon as all his passions were ripe, the voice of song was on all occasions of deep and tender interest--the voice of his daily, his nightly speech. Those old songs were his models; he felt as they felt, and looked up with the same eyes on the same objects. So entirely was their language his language, that all the beautiful lines, and

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