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THE AYRSHIRE PLOUGHMAN.
was born on the 25th of January, 1759. Ellisland, near Dumfries. Shortly after this His father was a poor farmer in the parish of he married, and entered upon his new occupaAlloway, near Ayr, but a man of considerable tion at Whitsuntide, 1788. He obtained an information and sound moral character. He appointment as an exciseman; but this farmgave his son such an education as his means ing speculation he did not long continue. His warranted; so that by the time he was ten or own convivial habits destroyed his prospects. eleven years of age, he was a critic in substan- He was a man of uncommon intellectual tives, verbs, and participles. He was likewise stamina, but ruined by intemporance. In 1791 instructed in writing, had a fortnight's French, he removed to the town of Dumfries, subsistand one quarter's land surveying.
ing entirely on his situation in the excise, It was not to be expected that an Ayrshire which yielded £70 per annum. In 1793 he ploughman would have any great stock of published a third edition of his poems, with books. The Bible and the old Scotch version the addition of Tam O'Shanter. of the Psalms, together with the Assembly's This latter work is considered to have been Shorter Catechism,
formed the generality of a Purns's masterpiece. It takes a wide range--Scottish peasants library. Burns was richer the descriptive, the terrible, the supernatural, than this. He had Pope's works--those won- the ludicrous. Burns's pictures of human life drously polished verses; Allan Ramsay, and a and of the world are of a mental as well as of collection of English songs, besides the Spec- a national kind. His “Twa Dogs” prove that tator. His book-treasury was afterwards better happiness is not unequally diffused.“ Scotch filled by the important addition of the works Drink” gives us his notion of fireside enjoyof Thomson, Shenstone, Sterne, and Macken- ment. “The Earnest Cry and Prayer” shows zie. Other standard books soon followed. the keen eye which humble people cast on their Burns was one of those great minds that, like rulers. The “Auld Mare," and the “ Address Descartes, can study hard without books; whose to Maillie,” enjoin, by the most simple and minds are aroused by the unwritten book of touching examples, kindness and mercy to nature: who find
dumb creatures. The “ Holy Fair” desires to Tongues in trees, books in running brooks,
curb the licentiousness of those who seek amuseSermons in stones, and good in everything. ment instead of holiness in religious exercises. And though his literary stock was poor and
“Man was made to Mourn” exhorts the strong scanty, his own resources were great, and his and the wealthy to be mindful of the weak mind grew up with original and robust vigour. stition in a domestic aspect. “Tam O'Shanter”
« Hallowe'en " shows us superHe never enjoyed the happy shades of academic bowers, but from a mere youth had to
adorns popular belief with humorous terror, toil like a galley slave to support his parents. and helps us to laugh old dreads away. “The Seizing every moment which offered itself for Mouse,” in its weakness, contrasts with man in improvement, he made the best of the little his strength, and preaches to us the instability time he possessed. His heart beat with love
of happiness on earth : while the “Mountain for old Scotland. The wild stirrings of his Daisy" pleads with such moral pathos the ambition, which he so nobly compared to the
cause of the flowers of the field, sent by God to blind gropings of Homer's Cyclops round the adorn the earth for man's pleasure, that our walls of his cave, raised him above the common
feet have pressed less ungraciously on the“ level. His story is a melancholy one. His
modest crimson-tipped flower,” since his song early days dark and clouded; his life a hard
was written. Others of his poems have a still
“ The Vision” reveals the battle for bread; his glory gained and acknow- grander reach. ledged; his presence sought by the great and poet's plan of Providence; proves the worth the wise; he, the idol of the day, the lion of of eloquence, bravery, honesty, and beauty ;
and that even the rustic bard himself is a usethe time, by-and-by cast away as a broken toy or a faded flower; his end în cold neglectful and ornamental link in the great chain of considering the gigantic intellect of the man, that domestic peace, faithful love, and patriotic and poverty. All this is very touching; and being. “The Cottar's Saturday Night” con
nects us with the invisible world, and shows and the wants of mankind, it seems a strange matter that England could afford him no better feeling are, of earthly things, most akin to the occupation than that of beer-gauging.
joys of heaven, while the “ Elegy of Matthew In the summer of 1786 he issued his first Henderson” “unites human nature in a bond volume, from Kilmarnock. The edition con
of sympathy with the stars of the sky, the fowls sisted of 600 copies. A second edition was
of the air, the beasts of the field, the flowery
The “Jolly issued in 1787, the edition this time consisting vales and the lonely mountain.”* lar.' There was a novelty-Ayrshire had pro- the characters are ably sustained. of 2,800 copies. He became wondrously popu- Beggars” is a strikingly original poem, the
most dramatic of his works, and one in which duced its wonder; everybody talked about and praised the peasant poet. Elated with his
* Allan Cunningham.
and the poor.
Above two hundred songs were thrown off hill of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the by Burns in his latter years, embracing poetry day in meditation and prayer!? We know of all kinds. No poctry was so instantaneously nothing, or next to nothing, of the substance and universally received. There was the or structure of our souls, so cannot accourt humour of Smollett, the pathos and tenderness for these seeming caprices in them, that one of Sterne or Richardson, the real life of Field- should be particularly pleased with this thing, ing, and the description of Thomson -- all or struck with that, which on minds of a united in delineations of Scottish manners, different cast makes no extraordinary impresand sung by the Ayrshire ploughman.
sion. I have some favourite flowers in spring, If he had affectation in anything it was in among which are the mountain daisy, the harintroducing occasionally (in conversation) a bell, the foxglove, the wildbriar rose, the budword, or phrase, from the French. And there ding birch, and the hoary hawthorn, that I is an anecdote related of him meeting with a view and hang over with particular delight. French lady, with whom he attempted to con- I never hear the loud solitary whistle of the verse in her own tongue. His French was un- curlew in a summer noon, or the wild mixing intelligible to her; her French unintelligible cadence of a troop of wild plovers in an to him. He meant to tell her that she was a autumnal morning, without feeling an elevacharming person, and possessed delightful con- tion of soul like the enthusiasm of devcversational powers, but really said, and so the tion or poetry. Tell me, my dear friend, lady understood him, that she was fond of talk- to what can this be owing? Are we á ing, which occasioned great offence; she indig- piece of machinery which, like the Æolian nantly replied, that it was quite as common harp, passively takes the impression of the for poets to be impertinent, as for ladies to be passing accident ? Or do these workings loquacions.
argue something within us above the trodden Among the literary works of Burns his epis-clod? I own myself partial to such proofs of tolary correspondence must not be overlooked. those awful and important realities--a God One beautiful letter addressed to Mrs. Dunlop that made all things, man's immaterial and is worth repeating. It is a new year's letter, immortal nature, and a world of weal or woe and is a fair specimen of his correspondence. beyond death and the grave.”.
Ellesland, New Year's Morning, 1789. Poor Burns, his mind was ill at rest amil “This, dear madam, is a morning of wishes, the changing scenes of his life. He was in the and would to God that I came under the gay and gorgeous circles of society, bat he had apostle James's description- The prayer of a no lasting place there. lle mingled with men righteous man availeth much. In that case, who had fortunes, but he had no fortune at madam, you should welcome in a year full of all. His time was spent among those who had blessings: everything that obstructs or disturbs no real care about him but as the curiosity of tranquillity and self-enjoyment should be re- the day. Fortune showered her favours on moved, and every pleasure that frail humanity those about him, but he got nothing save her can taste should be yours. I own myself so angry looks. His spent time was irremediably little a Presbyterian, that I approve of set gone, and he confessed that by dint of dining times, and seasons of more than ordinary acts out he ran the risk of dying by starvation at of devotion, for breaking in on that habitual home. For a long time he worked at copying routine of life and thought which is so apt to music. His melancholy life, with its flashes reduce our existence to a kind of instinct, or of brightness here and there, could not last long. even sometimes, and with some minds, to a
Such is the fate of simple bard, state very little better than mere machinery. On life's rough ocean luckless starred ! This day, the first Sunday of May, a breezy, Unskilful he to note the card blue-skied noon sometime about the begin
Of prudent lore, ning, and a hoary morning and calm sunny
Till billows rage and gales blow hard
And whelm him o'er! day about the end of autumn, these, time out of mind, have been with me a kind of holiday.
Even thou who mourn'st the daisy's fate, I believe I owe this to the glorious paper in the
That fate is thine-no distant date;
Stern ruin's ploughshare drives elate, Spectator, ‘The Vision of Mirza,' a piece that
Full on thy bloom, struck my young fancy before I was capable of Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight fixing an idea to a word of three syllables :
Shall be thy doom. "On the 5th day of the moon, which according The poet's troubled day was ending, and in to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep dejection and misery he sank to rest. He died holy, after having washed myself, and offered on the 21st day of July, 1796, aged thirtyup my morning devotions, I ascended the high seven years and six months,
THE BOY'S RECITER.
4. ODE ON THE PASSIONS. (Collins.) And with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took, The style of this piece is vividly expressive. And blew a blast so loud and dread, The successive passions, in the ecstasy of lyric Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe; exciteinent, must not only be delineated, by
And, ever and anon, he beat voice and action, but, to a great extent, per- The doubling drum with furious heat : sonated by the reciter. This is no arbitrary And though, sometimes, each dreary pause prescription of the elocutionist. It is the
between, working of Nature; as we may observe in the
Dejected Pity at his side, daily scenes of actual life. When we become
Her soul-subduing voice applied, intensely interested, in narrating or describing, Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien, we instinctively represent what strikes the ima- While each strained ball of sight seemed burstgination. The genuine poet, the true reciter,
ing from his head. and the unperverted child, are all, in this respect, under one influence. Man, in these cir- | Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fixed; cumstances, becomes, and, by the inevitable Sad pooof of thy distressful state: law of sympathy, presents what he sees. Of differing themes the veering song was
called on Hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
soul; Filled with fury, rapt, inspired,
And, dashing soft from rocks around, From the supporting myrtles round, Bubbling runnels joined the sound: They snatched her instruments of sound; Through glades and glooms, the mingled meaAnd, as they oft had heard apart,
sures stole, Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Or o'er some haunted streams with fond delay, Each, for madness ruled the hour,
(Round an holy calm diffusing, Would prove his own expressive power. Love of peace, and lonely musing.)
In hollow murmurs died away.
But oh! how altered was its sprightlier And back recoiled, he knew not why,
tone, Even at the sound himself had made. When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest Next Anger rushed ;—his eyes on fire,
hue,In lightnings owned his secret stings,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,-
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket With woful measures wan Despair
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled, - known. A solemn, strange, and mingled air;- The oak-crowned Sisters, and their chaste-eyed 'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.
Satyrs and sylvan boys were seen,
Peeping from forth their alleys green:
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
And Sport leaped up and seized' his beechen Still would her touch the strain prolong:
spear. And from the rocks, the woods, the vale, She called on Echo still through all her song;
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial; And where her sweetest theme she chose,
He, with viny crown advancing, A soft responsive voice was heard at every
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed ;
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol, close
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the And Hope, enchanted, smiled, and waved her
best, golden hair.
They would have thought, who heard the And longer had she sung :—but, with a frown, strain, Revenge impatient rose :
They saw in Tempe's vale, her native maids, He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder Amid the festal sounding shades, down,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing;
While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings, Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, round:
Where, through the long-drawn aisle, and Loose were her tresses seen, her zone un
fretted vault, bound;
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. And he, amid his frolic play, As if he would the charming air repay,
Can storied urn, or animated bust, Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings. Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? 5. ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH
Or Flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of YARD. (Gray.)
death? This piece furnishes a perfect example for Perhaps, in this neglected spot, is laid the cultivation of the tones of grave and noble Some heart, once pregnant with celestial sentiment, mingling with pathos. It requires
fire; attention, principally, to sustained “orotund" Hands, that the rod of empire might have quality, of the deeper range, full but subdued swayed, force, slow and uniform utterance, yet free from Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre: monotony, the swelling tones of strong and pro- But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page, found emotion, moulded by chastened sym
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er pathy, and by dignity of manner.
unroll; THE curfew tolls,—the knell of parting day;- Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; And froze the genial current of the soul. The ploughman homeward plods his weary Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, Now fades the glimmering landscape on the And waste its sweetness on the desert air. sight,
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless And all the air a solemn stillness holds ;
breast, Save where the beetlo wheels his droning
The little tyrant of his fields withstood; flight,
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest; And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
blood. The moping owl does to the moon complain The applause of listening senates to command, Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, Molest her ancient, solitary reign.
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land, Beneath those rugged clms, that yew-tree's And read their history in a nation's eyes,
shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone heap,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes con
fined ;Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a thronc, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind; The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow, twittering from the straw-built The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to
To quench the blushes of ingenuous Shame; The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, Nor more shall rouse them from their lowly Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the muse's flame, bed. For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Far from the madding crowds ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray: Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Along the cool, sequestered vale of life Or climb his knees the envicd kiss to share.
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield : Yet even these bones from insult to protect, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has
Some frail memorial, still erected nigh, broke:
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture How jocund did they drive their team afield ! decked, How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. stroke!
Their name, their years, spelled by the unLet not Ambition mock their useful toil,
lettered muse, Their homely joys and destiny obscure; The place of fame and elegy supply; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile, And many a holy text around she strews,
The short and simple annals of the poor. That teach the rustic moralist to die. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
And all that beauty, all that wealth c'er gave, This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned, Await alike, the inevitable hour;
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, The paths of glory lead but to the grave, Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies; Oh! when I think what foolish folk
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ; This city do contain, Even from the tomb the voice of nature I can't quite fathom why it's called cries;
Department of the Sane. And in our ashes live their wonted fires,
They've been and filled the streets with troops, For thee, who, mindful of the unhonoured With Marshal Lor to lead 'em ; dead,
And you may guess them soldiers take
For 'twist the Assembly and the Prince
There's been a final fight; Haply, some hoary-headed swain may say, And he has changed the Law of May “Oft have we seen him, at the peep of Into the Law of Miglit.
dawn, Brushing, with hasty steps, the dews away,
Long while, it seems, these silly men
Did nothing but dispute; To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
But finding talking did no good,
That wreathes its old, fantastic roots so high,
These foolish plotters met;
(We've got green Baize at home, you know, “ Hard by yon wood, now smiling, as in scorn, But none so green, as yet.) Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove;
Their schemes the Prince don't tell us yet, Now drooping, woful, wan, like one forlorn, For fear we should abhor 'em; Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless But says they meant to break the law, love.
And so he broke it for 'em. “One morn I missed him on the accustomed And one Jolin Darms they sent to seek hill,
The plotters far and near; Along the heath, and near his favourite tree: And took 'em all away in vaus, Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
With bag'nets in their rear. Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood, was he: “ The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
And Tears, the cause of all his woe,
He managed to secure; Slow through the churchway path we saw
And sent him safe away to Ilam, him borne.
llis wicked tongue to cure. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
And then to lessen our alarm, Graved on the stone beneath yon aged He made a proclamation, thorn."
A-bidding all the army risc,
And calm our hagitation.
“ These fellows said you should be slaves,A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown: Fair Science frowned not on his humble birtil, “ And I've got fifty thousand men,
I say you shan't,” says he ; And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Who'll force you to be free." Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere:
Now what will be the bend of this Heaven did a recompense as largely send:-
There's no one here can tell ; He gave to misery all he had,--a tear; He gained from heaven,-'twas all he For some folks think they'll make the Prince wished,--a friend.
An Emperor as well. No farther seek his merits to disclose,
6 For isn't he as good,” they say, Or draw his frailties from their dread
“ As him we had before ? abode,
If he was a Napoleon,
This one's a Louis Dor." (There they, alike, in trembling hope, repose;) The bosom of his Father and his God.
Some thinks the Socialists will rise 6. THE COUP D'ETAT OF DECEMBER, 1851.
And end his troubled days;
And send him in a chaise and pair Preserve an undisturbed simplicity of man- Away to Pare la shays. ner, apparently unconscious of equivoque.
Some wish the Orlines party back, O, MARY ANN! O, Mary Ann!
Some hope they may miscarry, Well may you bless your stars,
And in their love for Henry Sink
Quite sink the Count de Parry.
But as for me I've seen enough,
Nor longer wish to roam ; If you only knew what petty pangs
And while they make so free abroad, Is a Frenchman's daily bread.
I'll be a slaye at home.