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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Heron, Robert — Memoir of the Life of the Late Robert Burns

'Biography is, in some instances, the most trifling and contemptible, in others, the most interesting and instructive of all the species of literary composition. It would be difficult to persuade one's self to agree with several late historians of the lives of poets, philosophers, and statesmen; that the mere, industrious accumulation of dates, anecdotes, and witticisms, of transactions in which no peculiarities of genius and character were displayed, or of obscure events by which the habits of feeling, thought, or action, were in no way remarkably influenced; can deserve to be ambitiously studied, or admired, as the perfection of biographical writing. The following memoir of the life of one who was a GREAT MAN, solely of GOD ALMIGHTY'S making such; has been composed under the direction of a very different, although perhaps not a more correct, critical principle. If, however, this principle be just; it is the proper business of the biographer; TO TRACE THE GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHARACTER AND TALENTS OF HIS HERO, WITH ALL THE CHANGES WHICH THESE UNDERGO FROM THE INFLUENCE OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES, BETWEEN THE CRADLE AND THE GRAVE; AND AT THE SAME TIME, TO RECORD ALL THE EMINENT EFFECTS WHICH THE DISPLAY OF THAT CHARACTER, AND THE EXERCISE OF THOSE TALENTS, HAVE PRODUCED UPON NATURE AND ON HUMAN SOCIETY,IN THE SPHERE WITHIN WHICH THEY WERE EXHIBITED AND EMPLOYED. The writer's wishes will be amply gratified if this TRIFLE shall be found to afford any exposition of the nicer laws of the formation and progress of human character, such as shall not be scorned as data by the moral philosopher, or as facts to enlighten his imitations, by the dramatist; if it shall be received by the world in general, as an honest though humble tribute to the merits of illustrious genius; and above all, if it shall be regarded by the candid and the good, as presenting some details and reflections, of which the direct tendency is, to recommend that steady VIRTUE, without which even genius in all its omnipotence is soon reduced to paralytic imbecility, or to maniac mischievousness.

'Robert Burns was a native of Ayrshire, one of the western counties of Scotland. He was the son of humble parents. His father passed through life in the condition of a hired labourer, or a small farmer. Even in this situation, it was not hard for him to send his children to the parish school, to receive the ordinary instruction of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the principles of religion. By such a course of education, young Robert profited to a degree that might have encouraged his friends to destine him to one of the liberal professions, had not his father's poverty made it necessary to remove him from the school, as soon as he had grown up, to earn for himself the means of support, as a ploughboy or a shepherd.

'The establishment of PARISH SCHOOLS; but for which, perhaps, the infant energies of this young genius might never have received that first impulse by which alone they were to be excited into action; is one of the most beneficial that have been ever instituted in any country; and one that, I believe, is no where so firmly fixed, or extended so completely throughout a whole kingdom, as in Scotland. Every parish has, here, a schoolmaster, almost as invariably as it has a clergyman. For a sum rarely exceeding £20, in salary and fees, this person instructs the children of the parish in reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, Latin and Greek. The schoolmasters are generally students in philosophy or theology. Hence, the establishment of the parish schools, beside its direct utilities possesses also the accidental advantage of furnishing an excellent nursery of future candidates for the office of parochial clergymen. So small are the fees for teaching, that no parents, however poor, can want the means to give their children at least such education as young Burns received. From the spring labours of a ploughboy, from the summer employment of a shepherd, the peasant youth often returns, for a few months, eager to receive new instruction from the parish school.

'It was so with Burns. He returned from labour to learning, and from learning went again to labour; till his mind began to open to the charms of taste and knowledge; till he began to feel a passion for books, and for the subjects of books, which was to give a colour to the whole thread of his future life. On nature, he soon began to gaze with new discernment, and with new enthusiasm. His mind's eye opened to perceive affecting beauty and sublimity, where, by the mere gross peasant, there was nought to be seen, but water, earth and sky, but animals, plants and soil: even as the eyes of the servant of Elisha were suddenly enlightened to behold his master and himself guarded from the Syrian bands, by horses and chariots of fire, to all but themselves, invisible.

'What might perhaps first contribute to dispose his mind to poetical efforts, is, a particular practice in the devotional piety of the Scottish peasantry. It is still common for them to make their children get by heart the psalms of David, in that version of homely rhymes, which is used in their churches. In the morning, and in the evening of every day; or, at least on the evening of every Saturday and Sunday; these psalms are sung in solemn family devotion, a chapter of the bible is read, an extemporary prayer is fervently uttered. The whole books of the sacred scriptures are continually in the hands of almost every peasant. And it is impossible, that there should not be occasionally some souls among them, awakened to the divine emotions of genius, by that rich assemblage which these books present, of almost all that is interesting in incidents, or picturesque in imagery, or affectingly sublime or tender in sentiments and character. It is impossible that those rude rhymes, and the simple artless music with which they are accompanied, should not occasionally excite some ear to a fond perception of the melody of verse. That Burns had felt these impulses, will appear undeniably certain to whoever shall carefully peruse his Cotter's Saturday Night; or shall remark, with nice observation, the various fragments of scripture sentiment, of scripture language, which are scattered throughout his works.

'Still more interesting to the young peasantry, are those ancient ballads of love and war, of which a great number are yet popularly known and sung in Scotland. While the prevalence of the Gaelic language in the northern parts of this country, excluded from those regions the old Anglo-Saxon songs and minstrels: These songs and minstrels were, in the mean time, driven by the Norman conquests and establishments, out of the southern counties of England; and were forced to wander, in exile, towards its northern confines, or even into the southern districts of the Scottish kingdom. Hence in the old English songs, is every eminent bard still related to have been of the north country; but on the contrary, in the old Scottish songs, it is always the south country, to which every favourite minstrel is said to belong. Both these expressions are intended to signify one district; a district comprehending precisely the southern counties of Scotland, with the most northern counties of England. In the south of Scotland, almost all the best of those ballads are still often sung by the rustic maid or matron at her spinning wheel. They are listened to, with ravished ears, by old and young. Their rude melody; that mingled curiosity and awe, which are naturally excited by the very idea of their antiquity; the exquisitely tender and natural complaints sometimes poured forth in them; the gallant deeds of knightly heroism, which they sometimes celebrate; their wild tales of demons, ghosts and fairies, in whose existence superstition alone has believed; the manners which they represent; the obsolete, yet picturesque and expressive language in which they are often clothed; give them wonderful power to transport every imagination, and to agitate every heart. To the soul of Burns, they were like a happy breeze touching the strings of an Aeolian harp, and calling forth the most ravishing melody.

'Besides all this, the Gentle Shepherd, and the other poems of Allan Ramsay, have long been highly popular in Scotland. They fell early into the hands of Burns. And while the fond applause which they received, drew his emulation; they presented to him likewise treasures of phraseology, and models of versification. Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine was, during this time, published; was supported chiefly by the original communications of correspondents; and found a very extensive sale. In it, Burns read, particularly, the poetry of Robert Ferguson, written chiefly in the Scottish dialect, and exhibiting many specimens of uncommon poetical excellence. The Seasons of Thomson, too, the Grave of Blair, the farfamed Elegy of Gray, the Paradise Lost of Milton, the wild strains of Ossian, perhaps the Minstrel of Beattie, were so commonly read, even among those with whom Burns would naturally associate that poetical curiosity, although less ardent than his, could, in such circumstances, have little difficulty in procuring them.

'With such means to give his imagination a poetical bias, and to favour the culture of his taste and genius, Burns gradually became a poet. He was not one of those forward children, who, from a mistaken impulse, begins prematurely to write and to rhyme and hence, never attain to excellence. Conversing familiarly for a long while, with the works of those poets who were known to him: Contemplating the aspect of nature, in a district which exhibits an uncommon assemblage of the beautiful and the ruggedly grand. Of the cultivated and the wild: Looking upon human life with an eye quick and keen, to remark as well the stronger and leading, as the nicer and subordinate features of character: it was thus that he slowly and unconsciously acquired a poetical temper of soul, and a poetic cast of thought. He was distinguished among his fellows, for extraordinary intelligence, good sense, and penetration, long ere they suspected him to be capable of writing verses. His mind was mature, and well stored with such knowledge as lay within his reach; he had made himself master of powers of language, superior to those of almost any former writer in the Scottish dialect; before he conceived the idea of surpassing Ramsay and Ferguson.

'In the mean time, beside the studious bent of his genius, there were other features in his opening character, which might seem to mark him for a poet. He began early in life to regard with sullen disdain and aversion, all that was sordid in the pursuits and interests of the peasants among whom he was placed. He became discontented with the humble labours to which he saw himself confined, and with the poor subsistence that was all he could earn by them. He was excited to look upon the rich and great, whom he saw around him, with an emotion between envy and contempt; as if something had still whispered to his heart, that there was injustice in the exterior inequality between his fate and theirs. While such emotions arose in his mind, he conceived an inclination, - very common among the young men of the more uncultivated parts of Scotland — to go abroad to America or the West Indies, in quest of a better fortune. — his heart was, at the same time, expanded with passionate ardour, to meet the impressions of love and friendship. With several of the young peasantry, who were his fellows in labour, he contracted an affectionate intimacy. He eagerly sought admission into the brotherhood of Free Masons; which is recommended to the young men of this country, by nothing so much as by its seeming to extend the sphere of agreeable acquaintance, and to knit closer the bonds of friendly endearment. In some Mason Lodges in his neighbourhood, Burns had soon the fortune, whether good or bad, to gain the notice of several gentlemen who were better able than his fellow peasants, to estimate the true value of such a mind as his. One or two of them might be men of convivial dispositions, and of religious notions rather licentious than narrow; who encouraged his talents, by occasionally inviting him to be the companion of their looser hours; and who were at times not ill pleased to direct the force of his wit and humour against those sacred things which they affected outwardly to despise as mere bugbears, while perhaps they could not help inwardly trembling before them as realities. For a while, the native rectitude of his understanding, and the excellent principles in which his infancy had been educated, withstood every temptation to intemperance or impiety. Alas! It was not always so — He was even in the first years of his rising youth, an ardent lover: feeling the passion, not affected, light and sportive; but solemn, anxious, fervent, absorbing the whole soul; such as it is described by Thomson in his enrapturing poem on Spring. When his heart was first struck by the charms of village beauty; the love he felt was pure, tender and sincere, as that of the youth and maiden in his own Coter's Saturday Night. If the ardour of his passion hurried him afterwards to triumph over the chastity of the maid he loved; the tenderness of his heart, the manly honesty of his soul, soon made him offer, with eager solicitude, to repair by marriage the injury of love.

'About this time in the progress of his life and character, did he first begin to be publicly distinguished as a POET. A masonic song, a satirical epigram, a rhyming epistle to a friend, attempted with success; taught him to know his own powers and gave him confidence to try tasks more arduous, and which should command still higher applause. The annual celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in the rural parishes of Scotland, has much in it of those old popish festivals, in which superstition, traffic and amusement, used to be strangely intermingled. Burns saw, and seized, in it, one of the happiest of all subjects, to afford scope for the display — of that strong and piercing sagacity by which he could almost intuitively distinguish the reasonable from the absurd and the becoming from the ridiculous; = of that picturesque power of fancy, which enabled him to represent scenes, and persons, and groups and looks, attitudes, and gestures, in a manner almost as lively and impressive, even in words, as if all the artifices and energies of the pencil had been employed; of that knowledge which he had necessarily acquired of the manners, passions and prejudices of the rustics around him, of whatever was ridiculous, no less than of whatever was affectingly beautiful in rural life. A thousand prejudices of Popish, and perhaps too of ruder Pagan superstition, have from time immemorial; been connected in the minds of the Scottish peasantry, with the annual recurrence of the Eve of the Festival of all the Saints, or Hallowe'en. These were all intimately known to BURNS, and had made a powerful impression upon his imagination and feelings. Choosing them for the subject of a poem, he produced a piece, which is, almost to frenzy, the delight of those who are best acquainted with its subject; and which will not fail to preserve the memory of the prejudices and usages which it describes, when they shall, perhaps, have ceased to give one merry evening in the year to the cottage fire-side. The simple joys, the honest love, the sincere friendship, the ardent devotion of the cottage; whatever in the more solemn part of the rustic's life is humble and artless, without being mean or unseemly; or tender and dignified, without aspiring to stilted grandeur, or to unnatural, buskined pathos; had deeply impressed the imagination of the rising poet; had in some sort wrought itself into the very texture of the fibres of his soul. He tried to express in verse what he most tenderly felt, what he most enthusiastically imagined; and composed the Cotter's Saturday Night.

'These pieces, the true effusions of genius, informed by reading and observation, and prompted by its own native ardour, as well as by friendly applause; were soon communicated from one to another among the most discerning of BURNS's acquaintance; and were, by every new reader, perused and re-perused with an eagerness of delight and approbation, which would not suffer him long to withhold them from the press. A subscription was proposed; was earnestly promoted by some gentlemen, who were glad to interest themselves in behalf of such signal poetical merit; was soon crowded with the names of a considerable number of the inhabitants of Ayrshire; who, in the proffered purchase, sought not less to gratify their own passion for Scottish poesy, than to encourage the wonderful ploughman. At the manufacturing village of KILMARNOCK were the poems of BURNS, for the first time, printed. The whole edition was quickly distributed over the country.

'They were every where received with eager admiration and delight. They eminently possessed all those qualities which never fail to render any literary work quickly and permanently popular. They were written in a phraseology, of which all the powers were universally felt; and which, being at once, antique ,familiar, and now rarely written, was hence fitted for all the dignified and picturesque uses of poetry, without being disagreeably obscure. The imagery, and the sentiments, were, at once, faithfully natural, and irresistibly impressive and interesting. Those topics of satire and scandal in which the rustic delights; that humorous imitation of character, and that witty association of ideas familiar and striking but not naturally allied to one another, which have force to shake his sides with laughter; those fancies of superstition at

which he still wonders and trembles; those affecting sentiments and images of true religion, which are at once dear and awful to his heart; were all represented by BURNS with all a poet's magic power. Old and young, high and low, grave and gay, learned or ignorant, all were alike

delighted, agitated, transported. I was at that time resident in Galloway, contiguous to Ayrshire: and I can well remember, how that even plough-boys and maid servants would have gladly bestowed the wages which they earned the most hardly,and which they wanted to purchase necessary clothing, if they might but procure the works of BURNS. A copy happened to be presented from a gentleman in Ayrshire to a friend in my neighbourhood. He put it into my hands, as a work containing some effusions of the most extraordinary genius. I took it, rather that I might not disoblige the lender, than from any ardour of curosity or expectation. "An unlettered ploughman, a poet!" said I, with contemptuous incredulity. It was on a Saturday evening. I opened the volume, by accident, while I was undressing, to go to bed. I closed it not, till a late hour on the rising Sunday morn, after I had read over every syllable it contained. And,

'Ex illo Corydon, Corydon est tempore nobis! Virg, Ec. 7.

'In the mean time, some few copies of these fascinating poems found their way to Edinburgh: and one was communicated to the late amiable and ingenious Dr THOMAS BLACKLOCK There was, perhaps, never one among all mankind whom you might more truly have called an angel upon earth than Dr BLACKLOCK! He was guileless and innocent as a child, yet endowed with manly sagacity and penetration. His heart was a perpetual spring of overflowing benignity. His feelings were all tremblingly alive to the sense of the sublime, the beautiful, the tender, the pious, the virtuous. Poetry was to him the dear solace of perpetual blindness. Cheerfulness, even to gaiety, was, notwithstanding that irremedial misfortune under which he laboured, long the predominant colour of his mind. In his latter years, when the gloom might otherwise have thickened around him, hope, faith, devotion the most fervent and sublime, exalted his mind to heaven, and made him still maintain much of his wonted cheerfulness in the expectation of a speedy dissolution.

'This amiable man of genius read the poems of BURNS with a nice perception, with a keenly impassioned feeling of all their beauties. Amid that tumult of emotions of benevolence, curiosity, and admiration, which were thus excited in his bosom; he eagerly addressed some encouraging verses to the rustic bard; which, conveying the praises of a poet, and a judge of poetical composition; were much more grateful to BURNS, than any applauses he had before received from others. It was BLACKLOCK'S invitation that finally determined him to abandon his first intentions of going abroad to the West Indies; and rather to repair to Edinburgh, with his book, in hopes, there to find some powerful patron, and, perhaps, to make his fortune by his poetry.

'In the beginning of the winter 1786-87, BURNS came to Edinburgh. By Dr BLACKLOCK he was received with the most flattering kindness; and was earnestly introduced to every person of taste and generosity among the good old man's friends. It was little BLACKLOCK had in his power to do, for a brother poet. But that little he did with a fond alacrity, and with a modest grace, which made it ten times more pleasing, and more effectually useful to him, in whose favour it was exercised, than even the very same services would have been from almost any other benefactor. Others soon interposed, to share with BLACKLOCK in the honor of patronising BURNS. He had brought, from his Ayrshire friends, some letters of recommendation. Some of his rural acquaintances coming, as well as himself, to Edinburgh for the winter, did him what offices of kindness they conveniently could. Those very few, who possessed at once true taste and ardent philanthropy, were soon earnestly united in his praise. They who were disposed to favour any good thing belonging to Scotland, purely because it was Scottish, gladly joined the cry. Those who had hearts and understandings to be charmed, without knowing why, when they saw their native customs, mariners, and language made the subjects and the, materials of poesy, could not suppress that voice of feeling which struggled to declare itself for BURNS. For the dissipated, the licentious, the malignant wits, and the free-thinkers, he was so unfortunate as to have satire, and obscenity, and ridicule of things sacred, sufficient to captivate their fancies. Even for the pious, he had passages in which the inspired language of devotion might seem to come mended from his tongue. And then, to charm those whom naught can charm - but wonders; whose taste leads them to admire only such things as a juggler eating fire; a person who can converse as if his organs of speech were in his belly; a lame sailor writing with his toes, for want of fingers; a peer or a ploughman making verses; a small coalman directing a concert; - why, to those people, the Ayrshire poet might seem precisely one of the most wonderful of the wonders after which they were wont to gape. - Thus did BURNS, ere he had been many weeks in Edinburgh, find himself the object of universal curiosity, favour, admiration, and fondness. He was sought after, courted with attentions the most respectful and assiduous, feasted, flattered, caressed by all ranks, as the first boast of our country; whom it was scarcely possible to honour and reward to a degree equal to his merits. In comparison with the general favour which now promised to more than crown his most sanguine hopes, it could hardly be called praise at all, which he had obtained in Ayrshire.

'In this posture of our poet's affairs, a new edition of his poems was earnestly called for. He sold the copy-right to Mr CREECH, for one. hundred pounds. But his friends, at the same time, suggested, and actively promoted a subscription for an edition to be published for the benefit of the author, ere the bookseller's right should commence. Those gentlemen who had formerly entertained the public of Edinburgh with the periodical publication of the papers of the MIRROR; having again combined their talents in producing the LOUNGER; were, at this time, about to conclude this last series of papers. Yet, before the LOUNGER relinquished his pen, he dedicated a number to a commendatory criticism of the poems of the Ayrshire bard. That criticism is now known to have been composed by HENRY MACKENZIE, ESQ.; whose writings are universally admired for an Addisonian delicacy and felicity of wit and humour, by which the CLIO of the Spectator is more than rivalled; for a wildly tender pathos that excites the most equisite vibrations of the finest chords of sympathy in the human heart; for a lofty, vehement, persuasive eloquence, by which the immortal Junius has been sometimes perhaps excelled, and often almost equalled! The subscription-papers were rapidly filled. The ladies, especially, vied with one another - who should be the first to subscribe, who should procure the greatest number of other subscribers, for the poems of a bard who was now, for some moments, the idol of fashion. The Caledonian Hunt, a gay club, composed of the most opulent and fashionable young men in Scotland, professed themselves the patrons of the Scottish poet, and eagerly encouraged the proposed republication of his poems. Six shillings were all the subscription-money demanded for each copy. But many voluntarily paid half-a-guinea, a guinea, or two guineas. And it was supposed that the poet might derive from the subscription, and the sale of his copy-right, a clear profit of, at least, seven hundred pounds; a sum that, to a man who had hitherto lived in his indigent circumstances, would be absolutely more than the vainly expected wealth of Sir Epicure Mammon!

'BURNS, in the mean time, led a life differing from that of his original condition in Ayrshire, almost as widely as differed the scenes and amusements of London, to which OMIAH was introduced, under the patronage of the Earl of SANDWICH from those to which he had been familiar in the Friendly Isles. The conversation of even the most eminent authors, is often found to be so unequal to the fame of their writings, that he who read with admiration, can listen with none but sentiments of the most profound contempt. But, the conversation of BURNS was, in comparison with the formal and exterior circumstances of his education, perhaps even more wonderful than his poetry. He affected no soft airs, no graceful motions of politeness, which might have ill accorded with the rustic plainness of his native manners. Conscious superiority of mind taught him to associate with the great, the learned, and the gay, without being over-awed into any such bashfulness as might have made him confused in thought, or hesitating in elocution. He possessed, withal, an extraordinary share of plain common sense, or mother-wit, which prevented him from obtruding upon persons, of whatever rank, with whom he was admitted to converse, any of those effusions of vanity, envy, or self-conceit, in which authors are exceedingly apt to indulge, who have lived remote from the general practice of life, and whose minds have been almost exclusively confined to contemplate their own studies and their own works. In conversation he displayed a kind of intuitive quickness and rectitude of judgement upon every subject that arose. The sensibility of his heart, and the vivacity of his fancy, gave a rich colouring to whatever reasoning he was disposed to advance: and his language in common discourse, was not at all less happy than in his writings. For these reasons, he did not cease to please immediately after he had been once seen. Those who had met and conversed with him once, were pleased to meet and converse with him again and again. I remember, that the late Dr ROBERTSON once observed to me, that he had scarcely ever met with any man whose conversation discovered greater vigour and activity of mind than did that of Burns. Every one wondered that the rustic bard was not spoiled by so much caressing, favour, and flattery as he found; and every one went on to spoil him, by continually repeating all these, as if with an obstinate resolution that they should, in the end, produce their effect. Nothing, however, of change in his manners, appeared, at least for a while - to show that this was at all likely to happen. He, indeed, maintained himself with considerable spirit, upon a footing of equality with all with whom he had occasion to associate or converse. Yet he never arrogated any superiority, save what the fair and manly exertion of his powers, at the time, could undeniably command. Had he but been able to give a steady preference to the society of the virtuous, the learned, and the wise, rather than to that of the gay and the dissolute, it is probable that he could not have failed to rise to an exaltation of character and of talents fitted to do high honour to human nature.

'Unfortunately, however, that happened which was natural in those unaccustomed circumstances in which BURNS found himself placed. He could not assume enough of superciliousness, to reject the familiarity of all those who, without any sincere kindness for him, importunately pressed to obtain his acquaintance and intimacy. He was insensibly led to associate less with the learned, the austere, and the rigorously temperate, than with the young, with the votaries of intemperate joys, with persons to whom he was recommended chiefly by licentious wit, and with whom he could not long associate without sharing in the excesses of their debauchery. Even in the country, men of this sort had begun to fasten on him, and to seduce him to embellish the gross pleasures of their looser hours with the charms of his wit and fancy. And yet, I have been informed by Mr ARTHUR BRUCE, a gentleman of great worth and discernment, to whom Bums was, in his earlier days, well known; that he had, in those times, seen the poet steadily resist. such solicitations and allurements to excess in convivial enjoyment, as scarcely any other person could have withstood. But, the enticements of pleasure too often unman our virtuous resolution, even while we wear the air of rejecting them with a stern brow. We resist, and resist, and resist; but, at last. suddenly turn and passionately embrace the enchantress. The bucks of Edinburgh accomplished, in regard to BURNS, that in which the boors of Ayrshire had failed. After residing some months in Edinburgh, he began to estrange himself, not altogether, but in some measure, from the society of his graver friends. Too many of his hours were now spent at the tables of persons who delighted to urge conviviality to drunkenness, in the tavern, in the brothel, on the lap of the woman of pleasure. He suffered himself to be surrounded by a race of miserable beings who were proud to tell; that they had been in company with BURNS; and had seen BURNS as loose and as foolish as themselves. He was not yet irrecoverably lost to temperance and moderation: but he was already almost too much captivated with their wanton rivals, to be ever more won back to a faithful attachment to their more sober charms. He now also began to contract something of new arrogance in conversation. Accustomed to be, among his favourite associates, what is vulgarly but expressively called, the cock of the company; he could scarcely refrain from indulging in similar freedom and dictatorial decision of talk, even in the presence of persons who could less patiently endure his presumption.

'Thus passed two winters, and an intervening summer, of the life of BURNS. The subscription-edition of his poems, in the mean time, appeared; and, although not enlarged beyond that which came from the Kilmarnock press, by many new pieces of eminent merit, did not fail to give entire satisfaction to the subscribers. He at one time, during this period, accompanied, for a few weeks, into Berwickshire, Robert Ainslie, Esq., - a gentleman of the purest and most correct manners, who was accustomed sometimes to soothe the toils of a laborious profession, by an occasional converse with polite literature, and with general science. At another time, he wandered on a jaunt of four or five weeks, through the Highlands, in company with the late Mr WILLIAM NICOL; a man who had been before the companion and friend of Dr GILBERT START; who in vigour of intellect, and in wild, yet generous, impetuosity of passion, remarkably resembled both STUART and BURNS; who, for his skill and facility of Latin composition, was perhaps without a rival in Europe; whose virtues and genius were clouded by habits of Bacchanalian excess; whose latter years were vexatiously embittered by a contest with a person of far meaner talents, and narrower intelligence; who by the most unwearied and extraordinary professional toil, in the midst of as persevering dissipation, by which alone it was at any time interrupted, won and accumulated an honourable and sufficient competence for his family; and, alas! who died, within these few weeks, of a jaundice, with a complication of other complaints, the effects of long-continued intemperance! So much did the zeal of friendship, and the ambition of honest fame, predominate in NICOL's mind, that he was, in his last hours, exceedingly pained by the thought that since he had survived BURNS, there remained none who might rescue his mixed character from misrepresentation, and might embalm his memory in never-dying verse!

'In their excursion, BURNS and his friend NICOL were naturally led to visit the interesting scenery adjacent to the duke of Athol's seat at Dunkeld, on the banks of the Tay. While they were in a contiguous inn, the duke, accidentally informed of Mr BURNS's arrival so near, invited him, by a polite message, to Dunkeld-House. BURNS did not fail to attend his obliging inviter; was received with flattering condescension; made himself sufficiently agreeable by his conversation and manners; was detained for a day or two by his Grace's kind hospitality; and, ere he departed, in a poetical petition, in the name of the river Bruar, which falls into the Tay, within the duke's pleasure-grounds at Blair Athol; suggested some new improvements of taste, which I believe to have been since happily made, in compliance with his advice. 1 relate this little incident, to do honour rather to the duke of Athol, than to BURNS: for, if I be not exceedingly mistaken, nothing that history can record of George the Third, will in future times, be accounted more honourable to his memory, than the circumstances and the conversation of his well known interview with Dr Johnson. The two congenial companions, BURNS and NICOL; after visiting many other of those romantic, picturesque, and sublime scenes, of which the fame attracts travellers of taste to the Highlands of Scotland; after fondly lingering here and there for a day or two at a favourite inn; returned at last to Edinburgh: and BURNS was now to close accompts with his bookseller, and to retire with his profits in his pocket to the country.

'Mr CREECH has obligingly informed me, that the whole sum paid to the poet for the copy-right, and for the subscription copies of his book, amounted to nearly eleven hundred pounds. Out of this sum, indeed, the expences of printing the edition for the subscribers, were to be deducted. I have likewise reason to believe, that he had consumed a much larger proportion of these gains, than prudence could approve; while he superintended the impression, paid his court to his patrons, and waited the full payment of the subscription-money.

'He was now at last to fix upon a plan for his future life. He talked loudly of independence of spirit, and simplicity of manners; and boasted his resolution to return to the plough. Yet, still he lingered in Edinburgh, week after week, and month after month; perhaps expecting that one or another of his noble patrons might procure him some permanent and competent annual income, which should set him above all necessity of future exertions to earn for himself the means of subsistence; perhaps unconsciously reluctant to quit the pleasures of that voluptuous town-life to which he had for some time too willingly accustomed himself. An accidental dislocation or fracture of an arm or a leg, confining him for some weeks to his apartment, left him, during this time, leisure for serious reflection: and he determined to retire from the town, without longer delay. None of all his patrons interposed to divert him from his purpose of returning to the plough, by the offer of any small pension, or any sinecure place of moderate emolyment, such as might have given him competence without withdrawing him from his poetical studies. It seemed to be forgotten, that a ploughman thus exalted into a man of letters, was unfitted for his former toils, without being regularly qualified to enter the career of any new profession; and that it became incumbent upon those patrons who had called him from the plough, not merely to make him their companion in the hour of riot, not simply to fill his purse with gold for a few transient expences; but to secure him, as far as was possible, from being ever over-whelmed in distress, in consequence of the favour which they had shown him, and of the habits of fife into which they had seduced him. Perhaps, indeed, the same delusion of fancy betrayed both BURNS and his patrons into the mistaken idea that, after all which had passed, it was still possible for him to return, in cheerful content, to the homely joys and simple toils of undissipated rural life.

'In this temper of BURNS's mind, in this state of his fortune, a farm and the excise were the objects upon which his choice ultimately fixed for future employment and support. Mr ALEXANDER WOOD, the surgeon who attended him during the illness occasioned by his hurt; no sooner understood his patient's wish to seek a resource in the service of the excise; than he, with the usual activity of his benevolence, effectually recommended the poet to the commissioners of excise: and the name of BURNS was enrolled in the list of their expectant-officers. PETER MILLAR, Esq. of Dalswinton, deceived, like BURNS himself, and BURNS's other friends, into an idea, that the poet and exciseman might yet be respectable and happy as a farmer; generously proposed to establish him in a farm, upon conditions of lease, which prudence and industry might easily render exceedingly advantageous. BURNS eagerly accepted the offers of this benevolent patron. Two of the poet's friends from Ayrshire were invited to survey that farm in Dumfriesshire, which Mr MILLAR offered. A lease was granted to the poetical farmer, at the annual rent which his own friends declared, that the due cultivation of his farm might easily enable him to pay. What yet remained of the profits of his publication, was laid out in the purchase of farm-stock. And Mr MILLAR might, for some short time, please himself with the persuasion, that he had approved himself the liberal patron of genius; had acquired a good tenant upon his estate, and had placed a deserving man in the very situation in which alone he himself desired to be placed, in order to be happy to his wishes.

'BURNS, with his JANE, whom he now married, took tip their residence upon his farm. The neighbouring farmers and gentlemen, pleased to obtain for an inmate among them, the poet by whose works they had been delighted; kindly sought his company, and invited him to their houses. He found an inexpressible charm in sitting down, beside his wife, at his own fire-side; in wandering over his own grounds; in once more putting his hand to the spade and the plough; in forming his inclosures, and managing his cattle. For some moments, he felt almost all that felicity which fancy had taught him to expect in his new situation. He had been, for a time, idle: but his muscles were not yet unbraced for rural toil. He had been admitted to flatter ladies of fashion; he had been occasionally seduced by the allurements of venal beauty: But, he now seemed to find a joy in being the husband of the mistress of his affections, in seeing himself the father of her children, such as might promise to attach him for ever to that modest, humble, domestic life in which alone he could hope to be permanently happy. Even his engagements in the service of the excise, did not at the very first, threaten necessarily to debase him by association with the mean, the gross, and the profligate, to contaminate the poet, or to ruin the farmer.

'But, it could not be. It was not possible for BURNS now to assume that soberness of fancy and passions, that sedateness of feeling, those habits of earnest attention to gross and vulgar cares, without which, success in his new situation was not to be expected. A thousand difficulties were to be encountered and overcome, much money was to be expended, much weary toil was to be exercised, before his farm could be brought into a state of cultivation, in which its produce might enrich the occupier. The prospect before him, was, in this respect, such as might well have discouraged the most stubbornly laborious peasant, the most sanguine projector in agriculture. Much more, therefore, was it likely, that this prospect should quickly dishearten BURNS; who had never loved labour; and who was, at this time, certainly not at all disposed to enter into agriculture with the enthusiasm of a projector. Beside all this, 1 have reason to believe, that the poet had made his bargain rashly, and had not duely availed himself of his patron's generosity. His friends from Ayrshire, were little acquainted with the sod, with the manures, with the markets, with the dairies, with the modes of improvement in Dumfriesshire. They had set upon his farm, rather such a value of rental, as might have borne in Ayrshire, than that which it could easily afford in the local circumstances in which it was actually placed. He himself had inconsiderately submitted to their judgment, without once doubting whether they might not have erred against his interests, without the slightest wish to make a bargain artfully advantageous for himself. And the necessary consequence was, that he held his farm at too high a rent, contrary to his landlord's intention. The business of the excise too, as he began to be more and more employed in it, distracted his mind from the care of his farm, led him into gross and vulgar society, and exposed him to many unavoidable temptations to drunken excess, such as he had no longer sufficient fortitude to resist. Amidst the anxieties, distractions, and seducements, which thus arose to him; home became insensibly less and less pleasing; even the endearments of his JANE's affection began to lose their hold on his heart; he became every day less and less unwilling to forget in riot those gathering sorrows which he knew not to subdue.

'Mr Millar, and some others of his friends, would gladly have exerted an influence over his mind, which might have preserved him, in this situation of his affairs, equally from despondency, and from dissipation. But BURNS's temper spurned all controul from his superiors in fortune. He resented, as an arrogant encroachment upon his independence, that tenor of conduct by which Mr MILLAR wished to turn him from dissolute conviviality, to that steady attention to the business of his firm, without which it was impossible to thrive in it. In the neighbourhood were other gentlemen occasionally addicted, like BURNS, to convivial excess; who, while they admired the poet's talents, and were charmed with his licentious wit; forgot the care of his real interests in the pleasure which they found in his company, and in the gratification which the plenty and festivity of their tables appeared evidently to afford him. With these gentlemen, while disappointments and disgusts continued to multiply upon him in his present situation, he persisted to associate every day more and more eagerly. His crosses and disappointments drove him every day more and more into dissipation; and his dissipation tended to enhance whatever was disagreeable and perplexing in the state of his affairs. He sank, by degrees, into the boon companion of mere excisemen: and almost every drunken fellow, who was willing to spend his money lavishly in the ale-house, could easily command the company of BURNS. The care of his farm was thus neglected: Waste and losses wholly consumed his little capital: He resigned his lease into the hands of his landlord; and retired, with his family, to the town of Dumfries: Determining to depend entirely for the means of future support upon his income as an excise-officer.

'Yet, during this unfortunate period of his life, which passed between his departure from Edinburgh to settle in Dumfriesshire, and his leaving the country in order to take up his residence in the town of Dumfries, the energy and activity of his intellectual powers appears to have been not at all impaired. He made a collection of Scottish songs, which were published, the words with the music, by a Mr JOHNSTONE, an engraver, in Edinburgh, in three small volumes, in octavo. In making this collection, he, in many instances, accommodated new verses to the old tunes, with admirable felicity and skill. He composed several other poems, such as the tale of Tam o' Shanter, the Whistle, Verses on a wounded Hare, the Pathetic Address to R... G... of F. .., and some others which he afterwards permitted Mr C~ to insert in the fourth and fifth editions of his poems. He assisted in the temporary institution of a small, subscription-library, for the use of a number of the well-disposed peasants in his neighbourhood. He readily aided, and by his knowledge of genuine Scottish phraseology and manners, greatly enlightened, the antiquarian researches of the late ingenious Captain GROSE. He still carried on an epistolary correspondence, sometimes gay, sportive, humorous, but always enlivened by bright flashes of genius, with a number of his old friends, and on a very wide diversity of topics. At times, as it should seem from his writings of this period he reflected, with inexpressible heart-bitterness, on the high hopes from which he had fallen; on the errors of moral conduct, into which he had been hurried, by the ardour of his soul, and, in some measure, by the very generosity of his nature; on the disgrace and wretchedness into which he saw himself rapidly sinking; on the sorrow with which his misconduct oppressed the heart of his JANE; on the want and destitute misery in which it seemed probable that he must leave her and their infants. Nor, amidst these agonising reflections, did he fail to look, with an indignation half invidious, half contemptuous, on those, who, with moral habits not more excellent than his, with powers of intellect far inferior, yet basked in the sun-shine of fortune, and were loaded with the wealth and honours of the world, while his follies could not obtain pardon, nor his wants an honourable supply. His wit became, from this time, more gloomily sarcastic; and his conversation and writings began to assume something of a tone of misanthropical malignity, by which they had not been before, in any eminent degree, distinguished. But, with all these failings; he was still that exalted mind which had raised itself above the depression of its original condition, with all the energy of the lion, pawing to set free his hinder limbs from the yet incumbering earth: He still appeared not less than archangel ruined!

'What more remains there for me to relate? In Dumfries his dissipation became still more deeply habitual. He was here exposed more than in the country, to be solicited to share the riot of the dissolute and the idle. Foolish young men, such as writers' apprentices, young surgeons, merchants' clerks, and his brother excisemen, flocked eagerly about him, and from time to time pressed him to drink with them, that they might enjoy his wicked wit. His friend NICOL made one or two autumnal excursions to Dumfries, and when they met in Dumfries, friendship, and genius, and wanton wit, and good liquor could never fail to keep BURNS and NICOL together, till both the one and the other were as dead drunk as ever SILENUS was. The Caledonian Club, too, and the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Hunt, had occasional meetings in Dumfries, after BURNS came to reside here: and the poet was, of course, invited to share their conviviality, and hesitated not to accept the invitation. The morals of the town were, in consequence of its becoming so much the scene of public amusement, not a little corrupted: and, though a husband and a father, poor BURNS did not escape suffering by the general contamination, in a manner which I forbear to describe. In the intervals between his different fits of intemperance, he suffered still the keenest anguish of remorse and horribly afflictive foresight. His JANE still behaved with a degree of maternal and conjugal tenderness and prudence, which made him feel more bitterly the evil of his misconduct, although they could not reclaim him. At last, crippled, emaciated, having the very power of animation wasted by disease, quite broken-hearted by the sense of his errors, and of the hopeless miseries in which he saw himself and his family depressed; with his soul still tremblingly alive to the sense of shame, and to the love of virtue; yet even in the last feebleness, and amid the last agonies of expiring life, yielding readily to any temptation that offered the semblance of intemperate enjoyment; he died at Dumfries, in the summer of the year 1796, while he was yet three or four years under the age of forty.

'After his death, it quickly appeared that his failings had not effaced from the minds of his more respectable acquaintance, either the regard which had once been won by his social qualities, or the reverence due to his intellectual talents. The circumstances of want in which he left his family, were noticed by the gentlemen of Dumfries, with earnest commiseration. His funeral was celebrated, by the care of his friends, with a decent solemnity, and with a numerous attendance of mourners, sufficiently honourable to his memory. Several copies of verses, having, if no other merit, at least that of a good subject; were inserted in different newspapers, upon the occasion of his death. A contribution by subscription, was proposed, in order to raise a small fund, for the decent support of his widow, and the education of his infant children. This subscription has been very warmly promoted, and not without considerable success, by John Syme Esq. of Dumfries; by Alexander Cunningham, Esq. in Edinburgh; and by Dr James Currie and Mr Roscoe of Liverpool. Mr Stephen Kemble, manager of the theatre-royal at Edinburgh, with ready liberality, gave a benefit-night for this generous purpose. A publication of the poet's posthumous works is now in preparation, the profits of which are to be appropriated to the same pious use. it is hoped, that such a sum may be made up, in all, as shall secure his widow from destitute want, and shall bestow upon his children the advantages of a liberal education. It will be rather a tribute to BURNS, than the mere dole of charity.

'I shall conclude this paper with a short estimate of what appear to me to have been BURNS's real merits, as a poet and as a man.

'The most remarkable quality he displayed, both in his writings and his conversation, was, certainly, an enlarged, vigorous, keenly discerning, COMPREHENSION OF MIND. Whatever be the subject of his verse; he seems still to grasp it with giant force; to wield and turn it with easy dexterity; to view it on all sides, with an eye which no turn of outline and no hue of colouring can elude; to mark all its relations to the group of surrounding objects; and then to select what he chooses to represent to our imaginations, with a skilful and happy propriety, which shows him to have been at the same time, master of all the rest. It will not be very easy for any other mind, however richly stored with various knowledge; for any other imagination, however elastic and inventive; to find any new and suitable topic that has been omitted by BURNS, in celebrating the subjects of all his greater and more elaborate poems. It is impossible to consider, without astonishment, that amazing fertility of invention which is displayed, under the regulation of a sound judgment, and a correct taste, in the pieces intituled the Twa Dogs; the Address to the De'il; Scotch Drink; the Holy Fair; Halloween; the Cotter's Saturday Night; To a Haggis; To a Louse; To a Mountain Daisy; Tam O' Shanter; on Captain Grose's Peregrinations; The humble Petition of Bruar water; The Bard's Epitaph. Shoemakers, footmen, threshers, milk-maids, peers, stay-makers. have all written verses, such as deservedly attracted the notice of the world. But in the poetry of these people, while there was commonly some genuine effusion of the sentiments of agitated nature, some exhibition of such imagery as at once impressed itself upon the heart; there was also ever much to be excused in consideration of their ignorance, their want of taste, their extravagance of fancy, their want or abuse of the advantages of a liberal education. BURNS has no pardon to demand for defects of this sort. He might scorn every concession which we are ready to grant to his peculiar circumstances, without being, on this account, reduced to relinquish any part of his claims to the praise of poetical excellence. He touches his lyre, at all times, with the hand of a master. He demands to be ranked, not with the WOODHOUSES, the DUCKS, the RAMSAYS, but with the MILTONS, the POPES, the GRAYS. No poet was ever more largely endowed with that strong common sense which is necessarily the very source and principle of all fine writing.

'The next remarkable quality in this man's character, seems to have consisted in native strength, ARDOUR, and delicacy of FEELINGS, passions, and affections. Si vis me flere; dolendum primum est ipsi tibi. All that is valuable in poetry, and at the same time, peculiar to it, consists in the effusion of particular, not general, sentiment, and in the picturing out of particular imagery. But education, reading, a wide converse with men in society, the most extensive observation of external nature, however useful to improve, cannot, even all combined, confer, the power of comprehending either imagery or sentiment with such force and vivacity of conception, as may enable one to impress whatever he may choose upon the souls of others, with full, irresistible, electric energy. This is a power which naught can bestow save native soundness, delicacy, quickness, ardour, force of those parts of our bodily organisation, of those energies in the structure of our minds, on which depend all our sensations, emotions, appetites, passions, and affections. Who ever knew a man of high original genius, whose senses were imperfect, his feelings dull and callous, his passions all languid and stagnant, his affections without ardour, and without constancy? Others may be artisans, speculatists, imitators in the fine arts. None but the man who is thus richly endowed by nature, can be a poet, an artist, an illustrious inventor in philosophy. Let any person first possess this original soundness, vigour, and delicacy of the primary energies of mind; and then let him receive some impression upon his imagination which shall excite a passion for this or that particular pursuit: he will scarcely fail to distinguish himself by illustrious efforts of exalted and original genius. Without having, first, those simple ideas which belong, respectively, to the different senses; no man can ever form for himself the complex notions, into the composition of which such simple ideas necessarily enter. Never could BURNS, without this delicacy, this strength, this vivacity of the powers of bodily sensation, and of mental feeling, which I would here claim as the indispensible native endowments of true genius; without these, never could he have poured forth those sentiments, or pourtrayed those images, which have so powerfully impressed every imagination, and penetrated every heart. Almost all the sentiments and images diffused throughout the poems of BURNS, are fresh from the mint of nature. He sings what he had himself beheld with interested attention, what he had himself felt with keen emotions of pain or pleasure. You actually see what he describes: you more than sympathise with his joys: your bosom is inflamed with all his fire: your heart dies away within you, infected by the contagion of his despondency. He exalts, for a time, the genius of his reader to the elevation of his own; and, for the moment, confers upon him all the powers of a poet. Quotations were endless. But any person of discernment, taste, and feeling, who shall carefully read over BURNS's book, will not fail to discover, in its every page, abundance of those sentiments and images to which this observation relates. - It is originality of genius, it is soundness of perception, it is delicacy of passion, it is general vigour and impetuosity of the whole mind, by which such effects are produced. Others have sung, in the same Scottish dialect, and in similar rhymes, many of the same topics which are celebrated by BURNS. But, what with BURNS awes or fascinates; in the hands of others only disgusts by its deformity, or excites contempt by its meanness and uninteresting simplicity.

'A THIRD quality which the life and the writings of BURNS show to have belonged to his character, was, a quick and correct DISCERNMENT of the distinctions between RIGHT and WRONG, between TRUTH and FALSEHOOD; and this, accompanied with a passionate preference of whatever was right and true, with an indignant abhorrence of whatever was alse and morally wrong. It is true that he did not always steadily distinguish and eschew the evils of drunkenness and licentious love; it is true that these, at times, seem to obtain even the approbation of his muse. But there remains in his works enough to show, that his cooler reasons, and all his better feelings, earnestly rejected those gay vices, which he could sometimes, unhappily, allow himself to practise, and would sometimes recommend to others, by the charms which his imagination lent them. What was it but the clear and ardent discrimination of justice from injustice, which inspired that indignation with which his heart often burned, when he saw those exalted by fortune, who were not exalted by their merits? His Cotter's Saturday Night, and all his graver poems, breathe a rich vein of the most amiable, yet manly, and even delicately correct, morality. In his pieces of satire, and of lighter humour, it is still upon the accurate and passionate discernment of falsehood, and of moral turpitude, that his ridicule turns. Other poets are often as remarkable for the incorrectness, or even the absurdity of their general truths; as for interesting sublimity or tenderness of sentiment, or for picturesque splendour of imagery. BURNS is not less happy in teaching general truths, than in that display of sentiment and imagery, which more peculiarly belongs to the province of the poet. BURNS's morality deserves this high praise; that is not a system merely of discretion; it is not founded upon any scheme of superstition; but seems to have always its source, and the test by which it is to be tried, in the most diffusive benevolence, and in a regard for the universal good.

'The only other leading feature of character that appears to be strikingly displayed in the fife and writings of BURNS, is a lofty-minded CONSCIOUSNESS of his Own TALENTS and MERITS. Hence, the fierce and contemptuous asperity of his satire; the sullen and gloomy dignity of his complaints, addressed, not so much to alarm the soul of pity, as to reproach injustice, and to make fortunate baseness shrink abashed; that general gravity and elevation of his sentiments, which admits no humbly insinuating sportiveness of wit, which scorns all compromise between the right and the expedient, which decides with the authoritative voice of a judge from whom there is no appeal, upon characters, principles, and events. whenever they present themselves to notice. From his works, as from his conversation and manners, pride seems to have excluded the effusion of vanity. In the composition, or correctness of his poetry, he never suffered the judgment, even of his most respectable friends, to dictate to him. This line in one of his poems, ("When I look back on prospects drear') was criticised; but he would not condescend either to reply to the criticism, or to alter the expression. Not a few of his smaller pieces are sufficiently trivial, vulgar, and hackneyed in the thought, are such as the pride of genius should have disdained to write, or, at least, to publish, But there is reason to believe that he despised such pieces, even while he wrote and published them; that it was rather in regard to the effects they had already produced upon hearers and readers, than from any overweening opinion of their intrinsic worth, he suffered them to be printed. His wit is always dignified. He is not a merry~andrew in a motley coat, sporting before you for your diversion: but a hero, or a philosopher, deigning to admit you to witness his relaxations; still exercising the great energies of his soul; and little caring, at the moment, whether you do, or do not, cordially sympathise with his feelings.

'His poems may be all distributed into the two classes of pastorals and pieces upon common life and manners. In the former class, I include all those in which rural imagery, and the manners and sentiments of rustics, are chiefly described. In the latter I would comprehend his epigrams, epistles, and, in short, all those pieces in which the imagery and sentiments are drawn from the condition and appearances of common life, without any particular reference to the country. It is in the first class, that the most excellent of his poems are certainly to be found. Those few pieces which he seems to have attempted in that miserable strain, called the Della Crusca style, appear to me to be the least commendable of all his writings. He usually employs those forms of versification, which have been used chiefly by the former writers of poetry in the Scottish dialect, and by some of the elder English poets. His phraseology is evidently drawn from those books of English poetry which were in his hands, from the writings of former Scottish poets, and from those unwritten stores of the Scottish dialect, which became known to him, in the conversation of his fellow-peasants. Some other late writers in the Scottish dialect seem to think, that not to write English; is certainly, to write Scottish. BURNS, avoiding this error, hardly ever transgressed the propriety of English grammar, except in compliance with the long-accustomed variations of the genuine Scottish dialect.

'From the preceding detail of the particulars of this poet's life, the reader will naturally and justly infer him to have been an honest, proud. warm-hearted man; of high passions, a sound understanding, a vigorous and excursive imagination. He was never known to descend to any act of deliberate meanness. In Dumfries, he retained many respectable friends, even to the last. It may be doubted whether he has not, by his writings, exercised a greater power over the minds of men, and by consequence, on their conduct, upon their happiness and misery, upon the general system of life, than has been exercised by any half dozen of the most eminent statesmen of the present age. The power of the statesman, is but shadowy, so far as it acts upon extemals alone. The power of the writer of genius, subdues the heart and the understanding, and having thus made the very springs of action its own, through them moulds almost all life and nature at its pleasure. BURNS has not failed to command one remarkable sort of homage, such as is never paid but to great original genius. A crowd of poetasters started up to imitate him, by writing verses as he had done, in the Scottish dialect. But, O imitatoresi servum pecus! To persons to whom the Scottish dialect, and the customs and manners of rural life in Scotland, have no charm; I shall possibly appear to have said too much about BURNS. By those who passionately admire him, I shall, perhaps, be blamed, as having said too little.'

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