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for a fulling-mill, and had been so employed formerly, to the great scandal and annoyance of all the water-nymphs and wood-nymphs in the vicinity.
This lady was the representative of an ancient and respectable family, who were eminent for that species of sanctity consecrated by the prejudices of the times, and suffered much for adhering to the Covenanters, when under persecution ; their property was in consequence diminished by advantages taken of their rigid principles, in vexatious-lawsuits.
The pleasing remembrance of some happy summers spent in early youth in this scene of tranquil satisfaction, produced these poetical recollections, as they may be justly called. Memory makes no selections ; in those retrospections of the most innocent and pleasurable period of life, incidents and characters, serious, pathetic, and ludicrous, rush mingled on the mind. In a composition meant for the public eye, incongruous images should certainly not be mixed together ; it is needless to say that this effusion was never meant to be seen by any but those to whom it was addressed, and to whom all was obvious that must be obscure to a common reader. This fault might be corrected by expunging all the lower dramatis persone and their con
But then there are some uncommon readers, whose love of Nature and native feeling, so far predominate over critical refinement, that they will rather see the domestic muse in undress, surrounded by her dear locahties, and with all her imperfectioos on her head, than with that degree of superadded polish, which would at best make her appear like a rustic in holiday attire : Let this apology stand for all past and future localities and rusticities ; so shall the untaught Muse “ Fit audience find, tho' few."
No. 3. Of JAMIE Dick, and valiant JOHNNY STRAES.-P. 252.
JAMIE Dick was a most learned and pious tailor, who for forty years perambulated the parish of Cathcart ; he was a choice repository of ancient traditions, and could tell every shot the dragoons fired at the Covenanters ; he spoke pure broad Scotch, and was master of all its peculiar phrases.
JOANNY STRAÉS was a servant of the family, very diminutive in stature, but boastful and arrogant. The servant-maids called him valiant in ridicule.
Resolu'd to wed whene’er she spun her shroud.-P. 252.
It was the laudable and provident custom of the maidens of the parish of Cathcart, to spin a piece of linen for their shroud before they thought of marrying; and it was thought very indecent for any young woman to enter into that serious state without such a solemn preparation. The Author and another Miss in her teens, were much astonished at the above-mentioned Jenny's cheerfulness when they heard her singing at the doleful business, as they thought it, especially when she told them it was preparatory to another very sad event.
The AUTHOR, at the request of some friends, shall herd insert extracts from two of her letters, one to a lady who desired her opinion of BURNS, and wished for a poetical tribute to his memory; the other to a friend, who some some years after sent the Author Burns's life, letters, &c., and earnestly requested to know her ideas of his character and abilities, as they appear in those familiar effusions.
" I HAVÉ truly felt for poor Burns a degree of regret, by reflecting on the circumstances attending his exit, which may appear incredible, considering that I only knew him in the pictures of his mind exhibited to the public. What I felt upon his death it would look like gross affectation to describe. I cannot however resist the secret impulse which prompts me to lay my little offering on the shrine of departed Genius. Though in his prophetic and pathetic
Epitaph on a Bard,” he has touched the lines of his own character, and anticipated his hapless fate so emphatically, that no one can produce any thing comparable to it;
" The poor inhabitant below .
Was quick to learn and wise to know,
“ And softer flame,
66 And stain'd his name.”
Alas, for the verity of the prediction !—I have invariably tried to divest myself of an idolatrous veneration for Genius, and to consider virtue and probity as the only fit objects of unlimited love and veneration. The instances in which intellectual superiority has been debased by vice, or degraded by absurdity of conduct, are so frequent, as not only to discourage and depress those whom the enthusiasm of fancy leads to worship and admire their Maker in “ 'that “ larger portion of celestial fire,” which he communicates to some of his creatures; but also to afford envy and dullness no small cause of exultation. How do the tasteless, the selfish, and the stupid, triumph over the splendid ruins of ill-fated Genius! Though one worthy and virtuous person be worth a thousand unprincipled and licentious wits, yet it is hard for those who have never tasted the full cup of public admiration, to judge of its intoxicating qua
litics, and doubly hard for those who make their way through life, wrapt up in selfish caution, and wholly occupied by the wants and cares of the little individual, to comprehend the dangers that environ the children of Genius; who pass through a deceitful world with open arms stretched out to embrace all that solicit compassion, and offer gratification ; and whose naked hearts, overflowing with kind
; ness and good-will, are unprotected from treachery and temptation.
Indeed, the snares that vanity and pleasure spread in the way of those who join exquisite sensibility and a glowing imagination, with artless simplicity and a high relish for all that flatters the senses, are so numerous and fatal, that the obscurity of retirement, especially in the early period of life, is perhaps their only chance for safety. We are often tempted to accuse Providence for allowing merit to pine unknown to the world : But we see but in part, and know but in part. Perhaps the blooms of Genius are too delicate to bear the unhallowed breath of the world, and can only bud safely in the deep shelter of retirement, and expand to full perfection in the sun-shine of divine compla
As Milton says of
« Immortal amarant, a flow'r which once “ In Paradise, fast by the tree of life, “ Began to bloom ; but soon for man's offence " “ To heav'n remov'd, where first it grew, there grow's, " And flow’rs aloft shading the fount of life.”