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When Jolin found all remonstrance vain,
Another card he play'd ;
He got a Devil portray'd.
Joan saw the horns, Joan saw the tail,
Yet Joan as stoutly quaffid; And ever, when she seized her ale,
She clear'd it at a draught.-
His hair stood on his pate ;
* At this enormous rate :"
A VETERAN gambler, in a tempest caught,
(Born, 1754, Died, 1796.)
John BAMPFYLDE was the younger brother of derangement, and passed the last years of his
life Cambridge, and published his Sonnets* in 1776 confinement he recovered his senses, but not till when very young.
He soon after fell into mental he was in the last gasp of consumption.
Advancing, slow forewarns th' approach of day, Th' awaken'd birds begin their amorous strain, (What time the young and flow'ry-kirtled May And hill and vale with joy and fragrance teem;
Decks the green hedge, and dewy grass unshorn Such is the sight of thee ; thy wish'd return With cowslips pale, and many a whitening thorn;) To eyes, like mine, that long have waked to And now the sun comes forth, with level ray
mourn, Gilding the high-wood top, and mountain gray ; That long have watch'd for light, and wept in And, as he climbs, the meadows 'gins adorn ;
vain! * Censura Literaria, vol, iv. p. 301. (See a very interest to Sir Egerton Brydges, printed in Brydges' Autobiography, ing account of Bampfylde, in a letter from Mr. Southey vol. ii. p. 257, and in Mr. Dyce's Specimen Sonnets, p. 217.)
TO THE REDBREAST.
By rains incessant held ; for now no call
From early swain invites my hand to wield
The scythe; in parlour dim I sit conceal'd,
And mark the lessening sand from hour-glass fall; When that the fields put on their gay attire, Or 'neath my window view the wistful train Thou silent sitt'st near brake or river's brim,
of dripping poultry, whom the vine's broad leares Whilst the gay thrush sings loud from covert dim; Shelter no more.—Mute is the mournful plain, But when pale Winter lights the social fire,
Silent the swallow sits beneath the thatch, Andmeads with slime are sprentand ways with mire, And vacant hind hangs pensive o'er his hatch,
Thou charm’st us with thy soft and solemn hymn, Counting the frequent drop from reeded eaves.
From battlement or barn, or hay-stack trim; And now not seldom tunest, as if for hire,
Thy thrilling pipe to me, waiting to catch The pittance due to thy well-warbled song:
Cold is the senseless heart that never strove, Sweet bird, sing on! for oft near lonely hatch,
With the mild tumult of a real flame; Like thee, myself have pleased the rustic throng,
And oft for entrance 'neath the peaceful thatch, Rugged the breast that beauty cannot tame, Full many a tale have told and ditty long.
Nor youth's enlivening graces teach to love
The pathless vale, the long-forsaken grove, The rocky cave that bears the fair oue's name,
With ivy mantled o'er-For empty fame, SONNET.
Let him amidst the rabble toil, or rove In search of plunder far to western clime.
Give me to waste the hours in amorous play All ye, who far from town, in rural hall, With Delia, beauteous maid, and build the rhyme Like me, were wont to dwell near pleasant field, Praising her flowing hair, her snowy arins, Enjoying all the sunny day did yield,
And all that prodigality of charms With me the change lament, in irksome thrall, Form'd to enslave my heart and grace my lay,
ON A WET SUMMER.
(Born, 1758. Died, 1796.) ROBERT BURNs was born near the town of Ayr, Mount Oliphant, unfortunately deprived him of within a few hundred yards of “Alloway's auld the benefit of Murdoch as an instructor, after he haunted kirk,” in a clay cottage, which his father, | had been about two years under his care ; and who was a small farmer and gardener, had built for a long time he received no other lessons that with his own hands. A part of this humble those which his father gave him in writing and edifice gave way when the poet was but a few arithmetic, when he instructed his family by the days old ; and his mother and he were carried, fireside of their cottage in winter evenings. About at midnight, through the storm, to a neighbour's the age of thirteen he was sent, during a part of house that gave them shelter. After having re the summer, to the parish-school in Dalrymple
, ceived some lessons in his childhood, from the in order to improve his hand-writing. In the schoolmaster of the village of Alloway, he was, ( following year he had an opportunity of passing at seven years of age, put under a teacher of the several weeks with his old friend Murdoch, with name of Murdoch, who instructed him in reading whose assistance he began to study French with and English grammar. This good man, who is intense ardour and assiduity. His proficiency in still alive, and a teacher of languages in London, that language, though it was wonderful consider boasts, with a very natural triumph, of having ing his opportunities, was necessarily slight ; yet accurately instructed Burns in the first principles it was in showing this accomplishment alone, that of composition*. At such an age, Burns' study Burns's weakness ever took the shape of vanity. of principles could not be very profound; yet it is one of his friends, who carried him into the comdue to his early instructor to observe that his prose pany of a French lady, remarked, with surprise, style is more accurate than we should expect even that he attempted to converse with her in her from the vigour of an untutored mind, and such own tongue. Their French, however, was soon as would lead us to suppose that he had been found to be almost mutually unintelligible. As early initiated in the rules of grammar. His far as Burns could make himself understood, he father's removal to another farm in Ayrshire, at unfortunately offended the foreign lady. He [*Murdoch died about the year 1822, respected and poor.] meant to tell her, that she was a charming
person, and delightful in conversation ; but ex ceasing moil of a galley-slave, brought me to my pressed himself so as to appear to her to mean, sixteenth year, when love made me a poet.” The that she was fond of speaking : to which the object of his first attachment was a Highland Gallic dame indignantly replied, that it was quite girl, named Mary Campbell, who was his fellowas common for poets to be impertinent, as for reaper in the same harvest-fieldt. She died very women to be loquacious.
young ; and when Burns heard of her death, he At the age of nineteen he received a few was thrown into an ecstacy of suffering much months' instruction in land surveying.–Such is beyond what even his keen temperament was acthe scanty history of his education, which is in- customed to feel. Nor does he seem ever to teresting simply because its opportunities were have forgotten her. His verses “ To Mary in so few and precarious, and such as only a gifted Heaven;" his invocation to the star that rose on mind could have turned to any account.
the anniversary of her death; his description of Of his early reading, he tells us, that a life of the landscape that was the scene of their day of Hannibal, which Murdoch gave him when a boy, love and parting vows, where “flowers sprang raised the first stirrings of his enthusiasm ; and, wanton to be pressid ;" the whole luxury and exhe adds, with his own fervid expression, “ that quisite passion of that strain, evince that her the life of Sir William Wallace poured a tide of image had survived many important changes in Scottish prejudices into his veins, which would himself. boil along there till the floodgates of life were shut From his seventeenth to his twenty-fourth year in eternal restt." In his sixteenth year he had he lived, as an assistant to his father, on another read some of the plays of Shakspeare, the works farm in Ayrshire, at Lochlea, to which they had of Pope and Addison, and of the Scottish poets removed from Mount Oliphant. During that Ramsay and Fergusson. From the volumes of period his brother Gilbert and he, besides labourLocke, Ray, Derham, and Stackhouse, he also ing for their father, took a part of the land on imbibed a smattering of natural history and their own account, for the purpose of raising theology ; but his brother assures us, that until flax; and this speculation induced Robert to the time of his being known as an author, he attempt establishing himself in the business of continued to be but imperfectly acquainted with flax-dressing, in the neighbouring town of Irvine. the most eminent of our English writers. Thanks But the unhealthiness of the business, and the to the songs and superstition of his native country, accidental misfortune of his shop taking fire, in. his genius had some fostering aliments, which duced him, at the end of six months, to abandon perhaps the study of classical authors might have it. Whilst his father's affairs were growing desled him to neglect. His inspiration grew up like perate at Lochlea, the poet and his brother had the flower, which owes to heaven, in a barren taken a different farm on their own account, as soil, a natural beauty and wildness of fragrance an asylum for the family in case of the worst ; that would be spoiled by artificial culture. He but, from unfavourable seasons and a bad soil, learned an infinite number of old ballads, from this speculation proved also unfortunate, and was hearing his mother sing them at her wheel; and given up. By this time Burns had formed his he was instructed in all the venerable heraldry connexion with Jean Armour, who was afterof devils and witches by an ancient woman in the wards his wife, a connexion which could no neighbourhood, “the Sybelline nurse of his longer be concealed, at the moment when the Muse," who probably first imparted to him the ruinous state of his affairs had determined him story of Tam o' Shanter. “ Song was his favour to cross the Atlantic, and to seek his fortune in ite and first pursuit.” “ The Song-book," he Jamaica. He had even engaged himself as assays, “ was my Vade Mecum : I pored over it sistant overseer to a plantation. He proposed, constantly, driving my cart, or walking to labour.” however, to legalise the private contract of marIt would be pleasing to dwell on this era of his riage which he had made with Jean ; and, though youthful sensibility, if his life had been happy; he anticipated the necessity of leaving her behind but it was far otherwise. He was the eldest of a him, he trusted to better days for their being refamily, buffeted by misfortunes, toiling beyond united. But the parents of Jean were unwilling their strength, and living without the support to dispose of her to a husband who was thus to of animal food. At thirteen years of age he used be separated from her, and persuaded her to to thresh in his father's barn ; and, at fifteen, renounce the informal marriage. Burns also was the principal labourer on the farm. After agreed to dissolve the connexion, though deeply the toils of the day, he usually sunk in the even wounded at the apparent willingness of his mising in to dejection of spirits, and was afflicted with tress to give him up, and overwhelmed with feeldull headaches, the joint result of anxiety, low ings of the most distracting nature. He now diet, and fatigue. “This kind of life,” (he says) [1786) prepared to embark for Jamaica, where “the cheerless gloom of a hermit, with the un- his first situation would, in all probability, have
(* This story is in no account of Burns's life that we [+ Mr. Campbell is mistaken in this: Burns's first love have ever seen, before or since Mr. Campbell wrote.) was his handsome Nell; his Mary Campbell an after | From his letter to Dr. Moore.
been that of a negro-driver, when, before bidding After he had been caressed and distinguished a last adieu to his native country, he happily so much in Edinburgh, it was natural to anticithought of publishing a collection of his poems. pate that among the many individuals of publie By this publication he gained about £20, which influence and respectability, who had counteseasonably saved him from indenting himself as a nanced his genius, some means might have been servant, for want of money to procure a passage. devised to secure to him a competent livelihood in With nine guineas out of this sum he had taken a a proper station of society. It was probably with steerage passage in the Clyde for Jamaica; and, to
this hope in his mind that he returned to Edib. avoid the terrors of a jail, he had been for some burgh after his summer excursion ; and, unfor time skulking from covert to covert. He had tunately for his habits, spent the winter of 1788 taken a last leave of his friends, and had com in accepting a round of convivial invitations. posed the last song which he thought he should The hospitality of the north was not then what it ever measure to Caledonia*, when the contents now is. Refinement had not yet banished to the of a letter, from Dr. Blacklock of Edinburgh, to tavern the custom of bumper-toasts, and de one of his friends, describing the enco
ncouragement | pressing the bottle ; and the master of the house which an edition of his poems would be likely to was not thought very hospitable unless the receive in the Scottish capital, suddenly lighted majority of his male guests, at a regular party,
all his prospects, and detained him from em were at least half intoxicated. Burns was invited barking. “I immediately posted,” he says, “ to and importuned to those scenes of dissipation; Edinburgh, without a single acquaintance or and beset, at least as much by the desire of letter of introduction. The baneful star, which others to enjoy his society when he was exluihad so long shed its blasting influence on my larated, as by his own facility to lend it. He zenith, for once made a revolution to the nadir.” probably deluded his own reflections, by imagining,
Though he speaks of having had no acquaint- that in every fresh excess he was acquiring a ance in Edinburgh, he had been previously new friend, or attaching one already acquired
. introduced in Ayrshire to Lord Daer, to Dugald | But with all the admiration and declarations of Stewart, and to several respectable individuals, personal friendship which were lavished on him, by the reputation which the first edition of his
the only appointment that could be obtained poems had acquired. He arrived in Edinburgh for him was that of an officer of excise. In the in 1786, and his reception there was more like mean time he had acquired a relish for a new and an agreeable change of fortune in a romance, over-excited state of life. He had been expected than like an event in ordinary life. His com to shine in every society; and, to use his own pany was everywhere sought for; and it was phrase, “ had been too often obliged to give bis soon found that the admiration which his poetry company a slice of his constitution." At least, had excited, was but a part of what was due to he was so infatuated as to think so. He had now the general eminence of his mental faculties. to go back to the sphere of society from which His natural eloquence, and his warm and social he had emerged, with every preparatory cis heart expanding under the influence of prosperity cumstance to render him discontented with —which, with all the pride of genius, retained a it, that the most ingenious cruelty could bare quick and versatile sympathy with every variety devised. of human character-made him equally fasci After his appointment to the office of a gaudet, nating in the most refined and convivial so he took a farm at Ellisland, on the banks of the cieties. For a while he reigned the fashion and Nith, and settled in conjugal union with bis idol of his native capital.
Jean. But here his unhappy distraction between The profits of his new edition enabled him in
two employments, and his mode of life as a the succeeding year, 1787, to make a tour through exciseman, which made the public-house his ire a considerable extent both of the south and north quent abode, and his fatigues a temptation to of Scotland. The friend who accompanied him excesses, had so bad an influence on his affairs in this excursion gives a very interesting descrip- that at the end of three years and a half he sold tion of the impressions which he saw produced his stock, and gave up his farm. By promotion in Burns's mind from some of the romantic in the excise, his income had risen to £10 a year
, scenery which they visited.
“When we came" and with only this income in immediate prospect, (he says) “ to a rustic hut on the river Till, he repaired to Dumfries, the new place of duty thal where the stream descends in a noble waterfall, was assigned to him by the board of commissioner and is surrounded by a woody precipice, that Here his intemperate habits became confirmed commands a most beautiful view of its course, he and his conduct and conversation grew daily threw himself on a heathy seat, and gave himself more unguarded. Times of political ranesor up to a tender, abstracted, and voluptuous indul. had also arrived, in which he was too ardents gence of imagination.” It may be conceived spirit to preserve neutrality. He took the with what enthusiasm he visited the field of popular side, and became exposed to charges of Bannockburn.
disloyalty. Hespurned, indeed, at those charge * “The gloomy night is gathering fast." and wrote a very spirited explanation of his priz
ciples. But his political conversations had been writing, and arithmetic ; and he had dipped into reported to the Board of Excise, and it required French and geometry. To a poet, it must be the interest of a powerful friend to support him owned, the three last of those acquisitions were in the humble situation which he held. It was at quite superfluous. His education, it is also Dumfries that he wrote the finest of his songs for affirmed, was equal to Shakspeare's* ; but, Thomson's “ Musical Collection," and dated many without intending to make any comparison beof the most eloquent of his letters.
tween the genius of the two bards, it should be In the winter of 1796 his constitution, broken recollected that Shakspeare lived in an age within by cares, irregularities, and passions, fell into a the verge of chivalry, an age overflowing with rapid decline. The summer returned ; but only chivalrous and romantic reading ; that he was to shine on his sickness and his grave. In July led by his vocation to have daily recourse to that his mind wandered into delirium; and in the kind of reading ; that he dwelt on a spot which same month, a fever, on the fourth day of its gave him constant access to it; and was in continuance, closed his life and sufferings, in his habitual intercourse with men of genius. Burns, thirty-eighth year.
after growing up to manhood under toils which Whatever were the faults of Burns, he lived exhausted his physical frame, acquired a scanty unstained by a mean or dishonest action. To knowledge of modern books, of books tending for have died without debt, after supporting a family the most part to regulate the judgment more on £70 a year, bespeaks, after all, but little of the than to exercise the fancy. In the whole tract spendthrift. That income, on account of his in- of his reading, there seems to be little that could capacity to perform his duty, was even reduced cherish his inventive faculties. One material of to one half of its amount, at the period of his poetry he certainly possessed, independent of dying sickness ; and humiliating threats of pun- | books, in the legendary superstitions of his ishment, for opinions uttered in the confidence of native country. But with all that he tells us of private conversation, were among the last returns his early love of those superstitions, they seem to which the government of Scotland made to the ) have come home to his mind with so many man, whose genius attaches agreeable associations ludicrous associations of vulgar tradition, that it to the name of his country.
may be doubted if he could have turned them to His death seemed to efface the recollection of account in an elevated work of fiction. Strongly his faults, and of political differences, still harder and admirably as he paints the supernatural in to be forgotten. All the respectable inhabitants “Tam o' Shanter," yet there, as everywhere of Dumfries attended his funeral, whilst the else, he makes it subservient to comic effect. volunteers of the city, and two regiments of native The fortuitous wildness and sweetness of his fencibles, attended with solemn music, and paid strains may, after all, set aside every regret that military honours at the grave of their illustrious he did not attempt more superb and regular countryman.
structures of fancy. He describes, as he says, Burns has given an elixir of life to his native the sentiments which he saw and felt in himself dialect. The Scottish “ Tam o'Shanter" will be and his rustic compeers around him. His page read as long as any English production of the is a lively image of the contemporary life and same century. The impression of his genius is country from which he sprung. He brings back deep and universal ; and, viewing him merely as old Scotland to us with all her homefelt endeara poet, there is scarcely any other regret con ments, her simple customs, her festivities, her nected with his name, than that his productions, sturdy prejudices, and orthodox zeal, with a with all their merit, fall short of the talents which power that excites, alternately, the most tender he possessed. That he never attempted any and mirthful sensations. After the full account great work of fiction or invention, may be partly of his pieces which Dr. Currie has given, the traced to the cast of his genius, and partly to his English reader can have nothing new to learn circumstances and defective education. His respecting themt. On one powerfully comic piece poetical temperament was that of fitful trans Dr. Currie has not disserted, namely, “ The Holy ports, rather than steady inspiration. What- Fair." It is enough, however, to mention the ever he might have written, was likely to have humour of this production, without recommendbeen fraught with passion. There is always ing its subject. Burns, indeed, only laughs at enough of interest in life to cherish the feelings
(* Even, if Shakspeare's education was as humble as of a man of genius ; but it requires knowledge to
what Farmer supposed it to have been, it was beyond enlarge and enrich his imagination. Of that Burns's.] knowledge which unrolls the diversities of human (1 Since this was written, much has been done to illusmanners, adventures, and characters to a poet's
trate the life, writings, and genius of Burns ; edition after
edition has been called for of his works, and memoir after study, he could have no great share ; although memoir. The lives by Mr. Lockhart and Mr. Allan Cunhe stamped the little treasure which he possessed ningham are too well known for eulogy or quotation ; the in the mintage of sovereign genius. It has been vigorous vindicatory tone of the former, and the calm, asserted, that he received all the education which
clear, and earnest language of the latter, with the full
ness of its information, leave little for succeeding writers is requisite for a poet ; he had learned reading,
to say by way of justification or illustration. )