« AnteriorContinuar »
has stirred the hearts of all classes and degrees among men ; but especially for the sons of Scotia has he enshrined in his verse the sentiments, tastes, and feelings, as well as the old heroic traditions of her glory, in strains “so simple, yet so sublime, that the world stood still to listen.' That such a gifted one should have arisen from the ploughshare to become a great national poet, may well provoke astonistiment; but that his personal career should have proved so inauspicious, no less stirs our sympathy and regret. A · strange and significant contrast is exhibited between the lowly birthplace of Burns and his costly mausoleum.'
Scott, when young, met Burns; and he tells us the poet's eye, “which indicated the poetic temperament and character, was large, and of a dark cast; it glowed—I say, literally glowed—when he spoke with feeling or interest : I never saw such another eye human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men of my time.” A brother poet thus tenders a loving tribute :
The simple bard, unbroke by rules of art,
the wild effusions of his heart;
True, “thoughtless follies laid him low, and stained his name ;" but here draw the mantle of charity, and let pity drop the tributary tear over his sorrows and sufferings; for he was bereft of sympathy and succour when most he needed their aid. Need we then wonder that he sang
thus plaintively :
It is in the form of a Grecian temple: in the basement story are placed the tust of the poet, and the Bible he gave to his Highland Mary, fastened to one of the covers of which is a lock of her golden hair.
Or like the borealis race,
What a beautiful homily on that queenliest of graces, Charity, does he here offer us :
Then gently scan your brother man; still gentler, sister woman; Though they may gang a kennin wrang, to step aside is human. One point must still be greatly dark, the moving why they do it ; But just as tamely can we mark how far, perhaps, they rue it.
Wha made the heart, 'tis He alone decidedly can try us;
Burns was little more than sixteen when he wrote some of his most remarkable effusions; and the brief limit of thirty-seven years made up the poet's short span of life—a life so prolific of pleasure to the world ; so checkered and unpropitious to himself.
“Of his humorous pieces, the Tam o' Shanter is his best ; though there are traits of infinite merit in Scotch Drink, the Holy Fair, the Hallow E’en, and several of the songs; in all of which, it is very remarkable that he rises occasionally into a strain of beautiful description or lofty sentiment, far above the pitch of his original conception. The poems of observation on life and characters are the Twa Dogs, and the various epistles—all of which show very extraordinary sagacity and powers of expression.” The exquisite description of The Cotter's Saturday Night affords, perhaps, the finest example of pathos and humour combined. Independent of its admirable fidelity to details of Scottish peasant-life of his day, Burns has cast
· Edinburgh Review.
over the poem a feeling of such gushing tenderness and peaceful sunshine, that, in spite of the occasional obscurity of its language, it is impossible for any one to read it unmoved :
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh ;
The short’ning winter-day is near a close ;
The black’ning trains o' craws to their repose.
The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goes,
This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
To meet their dad, wi’ Aichterin' noise an' glee.
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile,
Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
With joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet,
An' each for other's welfare kindly spiers;
Each tells the unco's that he sees or hears ;
Anticipation forward points the view.
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;
Opserve how delicately he approaches the dainty little Daisy :
The Aaunting Powers our gardens yield,
O’ clod or stane,
Scott was so charmed with Burns's song, Ae fond kiss, and then we sever, that he said on one occasion, it was worth a thousand romances.
Here are the first and last stanzas :
Ae fond kiss—and then we sever!
Had we never loved sae kindly,
Burns's beautiful lines addressed to Mary in Heaven, were composed under the following circumstances :—“My Highland lassie,” he writes, “ was a warm-hearted, charming young creature as ever blessed a man with generous love. After a pretty long trial of the most ardent reciprocal attachment, we met by appointment, on the second Sunday of May, in a sequestered spot by the banks of Ayr, where we spent the day in taking a farewell, before she should