Abbildungen der Seite

I do not mean so far to give up the cause of Geniusy as to say that poets are necessarily less yirtuous than others : I only mean that they are less prudent, less firm, more susceptible, more simple.

I do not know whether most to pity or admire BURNS, Why were such people made?


What a fatal delusion, to lean for happiness on the bosom of the gay and fortunate, because they make us the companions of their pleasures ! Though ready to rejoice with us, if we possess talents to heighten their festive hours, alas ! when the day of affliction comes, we are left to pine neglected, or perhaps have our sorrows embittered by the sneer of wanton insult. Ask me of his Genius ! I have not power to do justice to its vigour, extent, and versatility. His poetry shows him in a walk of superior excellence, while his correspondence proves him equal to any thing. It is nauseous to hear people say, what he would have been if he had received a more thorough education : In that case he would not have been BURNSthat daring, original, and unfettered genius, whose " wood “ notes wild,” silence the whole chorus of modern tame correctness, as one of our mountain blackbirds would an aviary of canaries.


He did know his own strength, as such a superior intelligence necessarily must; but then he also knew his own weakness.

[ocr errors]

This best knowledge however did not answer the purpose of self-defence. O that he had but learned and habitually practised self-command and self-denial, without which the highest attainments cannot lead to happiness :—But this theme is endless. Yet one word more:—How different are his letters to Mrs DUNLOP, where his heart truly opens, from his effusions to his gay companions,--that unaffected scorn of the world and its vain pursuits,—that sublime melancholy,—that aspiration (tho’struggling through doubts and darkness) after what the world does not afford that sensibility,—that manly sincerity,-every thing, in short, that characterises genius, and exalts humanity !

[blocks in formation]

So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destin'd urn;
And as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud !"


What adverse fate awaits the tuneful train !
Has OTWAY died and SPENCER liv'd in vain ?
In vain has Collins, Fancy's pensive child,
Pour'd his lone plaints by Avon's windings wild ?
And SAVAGE, on Misfortune's bosom bred,
Bar'd to the howling storm his houseless head ?
Who gentle SHENSTONE's fate can hear unmov’d,
By virtue, elegance, and genius lov'd ?
Yet, pensive wand'ring o'er his native plain,
His plaints confess'd he lov'd the Muse in vain


Chill penury invades his favourite bower,
Blasts every scene, and withers every flower ;
His warning Muse to Prudence turn’d her strain,
But Prudence sings to thoughtless bards in vain ;
Still restless Fancy drives them headlong on
With dreams of wealth, and friends, and laurels won-
On Ruin's brink they sleep, and wake undone !

And see where CALEDONIA's Genius mourns,
And plants the holly round the grave of Burns !
But late “ its polish'd leaves and berries red
“ Play'd graceful round the rural Poet's head ;"
And while with manly force and native fire
He wak'd the genuine Caledonian lyre,
Tweed's severing flood exulting heard her tell,
Not Roman wreaths the holly could excel ;
Not Tiber's stream, along Campania's plain,
More pleas’d, convey'd the gay Horatian strain,
Than bonny Doon, or fairy-haunted Ayr,
That wont his rustic melody to share,
Resound along their banks the pleasing theme,
Sweet as their murmurs, copious as their stream:
And RAMSAY, once the HORACE of the North,
Who charm'd with varied strains the listening Forth,
Bequeath'd to him the shrewd peculiar art
To Satire nameless graces to impart,

To wield her weapons with such sportive ease,
That, while they wound, they dazzle and they please :
But when he sung to the attentive plain
The humble virtues of the Patriarch Swain,
His evening worship, and his social meal,
And all a parent's pious heart can feel ;
To genuine worth we bow submissive down,
And wish the Cottar's * lowly shed our own:
With fond regard our native land we view,
It's cluster'd hamlets, and its mountains blue,
Our “ virtuous populace," a nobler boast
Than all the wealth of either India's coast.
Yet while our hearts with admiration burn,
Too soon we learn that “ Man was made to mourn.
The independent wish, the taste refin'd,
Bright energies of the superior mind,
And Feeling's generous pangs, and Fancy's glow,
And all that liberal Nature could bestow,
To him profusely given, yet given in vain ;
Misfortune aids and points the stings of pain.'

How blest, when wand ring by his native Ayr,
He woo'd “ the willing Muse,” unknown to care !
But when fond adiniration spread his name,
A candidate for fortune and for fame,

[ocr errors]


* Cutiar for Cottager.

« ZurückWeiter »