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panions, his work-shop and all his warld's gear were burnt to ashes; and to crown his misfortune, the reigning queen of his heart, where many a queen had reigned since Nelly, jilted him, and was married to a rival.. These strokes drove Burns almost to desperation, and he sunk for three months into unutterable melancholy; for although his sanguine temper and vehement spirit bore him frequently into mirthful society, he had within that canker-worm of constitutional despondency that secretly riots in the heart of every man privileged, or rather afflicted, beyond the common lot with the sensibility which is the soul of poetic genius, and which scarcely knows a gradation of feeling between agony and rapture. But the destruction of his property, the falsehood of his mistress, and the hypochondriac malady that seized him, were the least calamities that befel him at Irvine: the friendship of a young fellow, (a sailor) whom he describes to be a very noble character, whose mind was fraught with independence, magnanimity, and every manly virtue,' proved fatal to that ideotpiety," which had been the joy of his childhood, and that in-grained piety, which, by his own confession, had preserved him from his sixteenth, to his twenty-fourth year, within what he calls (and we will hot cavil about a word, since we understand his meaning,) the line of innocence. Taking this jolly tar as his pilot, and his own heart as his compass, he spread his sail upon a sea of pleasure, and soon suffered shipwreck in his soul. He tells Dr. Moore that his manly and magnanimous friend spoke of illicit love with the levity of a sailor; which I had hitherto regarded with horror. Here his friendship did me a mischief, and the conse quence was, that soon after I resumed the plough, I wrote the Poet's Welcome to an illegitimate child. His brother Gilbert also informs the same gentleman, that in Irvine Robert "had contracted acquaintance of a freer manner of thinking and living than he had been used to, whose society prepared him for overleaping the bounds of rigid virtue, which had hitherto restrained him." These two quotations agree that this was the period of poor Burns's fall from virtue, and it was his fall from happiness also; his whole life from that time was a series of desperate and successless struggles against intemperance and misfortune, against conscience and remorse, against the wish to do right and the will to do wrong. But we shrink from the contemplation of his errors, and gladly turn to the brightening prospects which poetry opened to his ambition. The only good he obtained at Irvine was an acquaintance with Fergusson's Scotish Poems, which animated him to strike anew his wildly-sounding lyre' with emulative vigour ;

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and in the course of the four following years many of his best -pieces were composed. But the work of his hands never prospered, after he began to deviate from the line of innocence. After a series of sins and sufferings which we will not detail, in the year 1787 he was so miserable at home, that he determined to transport himself to the West Indies. Meanwhile, the publication of a yolume of his poems at Kilmaranock excited the attention of Dr. Blacklock, of Edinburgh, and, in consequence of a suggestion from that amiable man and respectable poet, Robert Burns, instead of sailing to Jamaica, for which he had taken a steerage passage and only waited 'for a breeze, turned his face with the gale of fortune to the east, and repaired to the Scotish metropolis. Here the earl of Glencairn, and many of the nobility and gentry, as well as the literati, patronized, or rather countenanced him; for excepting the first truly beneficent man, he received little attention from the rest of his admirers, who, from ostentation, or to gratify their curiosity in beholding the prodigy of a ploughman poet, invited him to their tables, and made promises to his hopes which they broke to his heart.

A second edition of his poems now appeared, under the auspices of the Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt, which spread his fame throughout Great Britain, and produced him considerable profit; and now with a moderate share of the mercenary prudence, which it was his pride to despise, and his punishment to undervalue, he might have established himself in that comfortable state of comparative independence, which consists in having a dependance which may be depended upon without obligation to the oppressive and precarious liberality - of the great. But our duty does not require us, and we will not voluntarily undertake the invidious task, to follow the misguided bard, through the follies, and vices, and sorrows of his latter days. With the sins of his life we have nothing to do, except so far as they may be inseparably connected with the history of his mind, which we have hitherto endeavoured to trace the powers of that mind had grown to their full strength and stature, before Burns reached Edinburgh, and thenceforward they underwent no extraordinary change either of improvement or deterioration, until their total and premature extinction, after a short but splendid career of fame, a merry and a miserable career of dissipation. The genius of Burns resembled the pearl of Cleopatra, both in its worth and in its fortune; the one was moulded in secret by nature in the depths of the ocean, the other was produced and perfected by the same hand in equal obscurity on the banks of the Ayr: the former was suddenly brought to light, and

shone for a season with attractive splendour on the forehead of beauty; the latter not less unexpectedly emerged from the shades, and dazzled and delighted an admiring nation; the fate of both was the same; each was wantonly dissolved in the cup of pleasure, and quaffed by its possessor at one intemperate draught. It is only necessary to add, that after spending some time in seeing the world, that is the world in Scotland, and Scotland was all the world to him, for he was a patriot to his heart's core, and to his last moment, he sunk the profits of his poems in a farm, except two hundred pounds which he generously sent to his brother Gilbert to assist him in the support of their aged mother, a younger brother, and three unportioned sisters. While his prospects were promising, he also took the earliest opportunity of making all the amends that he could to her whom he had loved and injured the most in his native country, by marrying her. But his farming scheme miscarried; his hopes and his harvests were blasted; and the mountain of patronage, which had been two years in labour, and had made his days wretched and his nights sleepless with its groans, at length brought forth a mouse of preferment ;-we would not for shame tell, if we knew, how many Dukes and Earls and Barons and Knights and Gentlemen and Scholars and Ladies, &c. &c. it required to make Burns an Exciseman, with fifty pounds a year, which after a certain time was augmented to seventy! But his salary was too slow of growth to keep pace with his life, which was unhappily closed in July 1796, in the 38th year of his age.

As a man, Burns had a powerful understanding, a generous heart, and an independent spirit; but confidence in his powerful understanding too often rendered him overbearing, and unmerciful to the weakness of others; his generous heart hurried him into follies, and those follies betrayed him into vices; while his independent spirit was so impatient of obligation, and so jealous of indignity, that in the presence of the great he always strove to make the nobility of blood feel its inferiority to the nobility of intellect. His social talents are said to have excelled his poetical and epistolary ones, in force, variety, and fascination; this may be the conviction of those who heard him in his happiest moods, but, without disputing the wit and vivacity of his conversation, every body else may be allowed to doubt the fact. After the retrospect of its progress which we have already taken, it will be unnecessary minutely to characterize his genius. In infancy religion was its nurse, and romance its playmate; in boyhood its energies were awakened by the voice of glory calling from the tombs.

of departed heroes; in youth its sensibilities were quickened and refined by the endearments and anxieties of love; hence fervour, exuberance, spirit, and tenderness were its maiden perfections; and though it was subsequently debauched by passion, degraded by impiety, and sometimes prostituted to slander and obscenity, its' form' never lost

• All its original brightness, nor appear'd

Less than Archangel ruin'd.'-Par. Lost. B. I.

In his best pieces, Burns is the poet of truth, of nature, and his native country. His subjects are never remote, abstracted, nor factitious; they are such as come in his way and therefore shine in his song, as the clouds that meet the sun in his course are enlightened by his rays; his scenery is always purely Scotish, and represents the very objects that engaged his eye, when the themes with which they are associated were revolving in his mind; his feelings irresistibly impress the heart of the reader, because they are the same that impressed his own, on the spot, and at the time when, those objects were in his sight, and those themes in his thought. Burns wrote not so much from memory as from perception; not after slow deliberation, but from instantaneous impulse; the fire that burns through his compositions was not elaborated spark by spark, from mechanical friction, in the closet;-no, it was in the open field, under the cope of heaven, this poetical Franklin caught his lightnings from the cloud while it passed over his head, and he communicated them, too, by a touch, with electrical swiftness and effect. It was literally thus, amidst the inspiration of a thunder-storm, on the wilds of Kenmore, that he composed the 'Address of Bruce to his Soldiers at Bannoch burn.

It was probably fortunate for Burns, that by a partial education his mind was only cleared of the forests, and drained of the morasses, that in a state of unbroken nature intercept the sun, chill the soil, and forbid the growth of generous thought; higher cultivation would unquestionably have called forth richer and fairer harvests, but it would have so softened away the wild and magnificent diversity that makes the objects within the range of his genius resemble the rocks and moorlands, the lakes and glens of his native country, that, instead of being first and unrivalled among the Scotish minstrels, he might with difficulty have maintained a place in the third rank of British poets. It was a further and incalculable advantage to his untamed muse, that she sung her native strains in her native tongue. The Scotish language is of a very peculiar character; its basis was undoubtedly a national dialect now almost obsolete, but its superstructure consists of vulgar idioms, and its embellishments of pure En

glish phrases. Hence the language, as it is written, is an arbitrary one, and its force and elegance depend principally upon the skill with which the poet combines its constituent parts, to make a common chord of its triple tones; and we may venture to pronounce that style the most harmonious and perfect, in which the national dialect is the key-note, and the vulgar and the English are subordinate. The muse of Burns disdained to confine her song to any peculiar accordance of these, but ran, as it suited her subject or her caprice, through the whole diapason of her country scale, and tried her skill in every modulation of which her mother-tongue, copious and flexible beyond any other now in use, was capable. Hence we have pieces by Burns in plain English.

Is there beneath Love's noble name,
Can harbour, dark, the selfish aim,
To bless himself alone?

Mark Maiden-innocence a prey

To love-pretending snares,

This boasted honour turns away,

Shunning soft Pity's rising sway,

Regardless of the tears and unavailing prayers!
Perhaps, this hour in misery's squalid nest,

She strains your infant to her joyless breast,‚ˆ

And with a Mother's fears, shrinks at the rocking blast,'

In broad Scotish

From A Winter's Night?

Thou never braindg't, an' fetch't, † an' fliskit,t.
But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit,

An spread abreed § thy weel-fill'd brisket, ||

Wi' pith and pow'r,

Till sprittie ¶ knows wad rair't** and riskit, ++

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