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the grace of its pathetic touch, as quite beyond the range of his own fervid genius :

"Thon canst not learn, nor can I show,

To paint with Thomson's landscape glow;
Or Wake the Losom-melting throe,

With Shenstone's art;

Or pour with Gray, the moving flow
Warm on the heart."

In contradistinction to this modest estimate of himself may be set that of the late Professor Wilson, of Christopher North celebrity, who echoes but the universal opinion. He says:-" Burns was by far the greatest poet that ever sprang from the bosom of the people, and lived and died in humble circumstances and condition, who will ever be regarded as the glorious representative of the genius of his country, on which alone rests the perpetuity of his fame."

It is generally allowed that his gift of original thought was very marked; still his gift of original expression has been estimated as even greater. His powers of perception, assimilation, concentration, and condensation are considered to have been exceptional: all these found utterance in forcible and graphic language, in which, what he drew from others, became under his magic touch-his own.

Did ever the fire of self-sacrificing chivalry and patriotic self-abandonment burn more intensely and blaze higher than in “ Bruce's address to his Army at Bannockburn." Of thought and sentiment embodying a living principle we have that inimitable lyric-"A man's a man for a' that." In what full measure of mystic lore, and felicitous diction-a Shaksperian blending of tragedy and comedy, are such poems as

Tam o' Shanter," and "The Jolly Beggars." Both humour and fancy play around such pieces as "John Anderson my jo John." "The Death of poor Mailie,"

The Jolly Beggars,"" Tam Samson's Elegy," and a host of others. What exquisite tenderness and pathos are infused into his amatory lyrics, and matchless love


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songs. What passionate sentiment is disclosed in the where he sings of Mary in Heaven," and Mary that sleeps by the murmuring stream." In these feeling and intellect are happily blended, while in the highest lyrics the former is generally allowed to predominate. Poetry cannot go deeper than the feelings of the heart. It is the true exponent of them. It was during the last few years of his life that Burns threw his whole genius into song, for that was the form of literature he had loved from his cradle-home, sweet home, being redolent with the voice of song, his mother's memory being richly stored with the old tunes of her native country, which she sung to her eldest son from his cradle all through boyhood. This took deep root, for the book he most prized was an old song-book, which became his daily companion.

Thoughts, sentiments, or emotions laid hold of Burns with such force that the joys and sorrows he depicts so graphically became his own; while intensity was his more characteristic part-kindling his soul into its warmest glow. There is nothing artificial in his thoughts, feelings, and desires: all is natural, and true to the actualities of the human heart. Thus it is that the peasantry of Scotland have all along loved their National Bard, it may be, as fervently as ever people loved a poet. Through his poems-so full of the fine flavour of old vernacular humour and dialect often passing into deep pathos - there came a sympathy for him such as nothing else could have evoked. They express the thoughts and feelings, manners and customs of peasants, shepherds, and small moorland farmers in the language and phrases they used at their firesides. They interpret to each


class its own inner life. No wonder the people loved these songs, in which their desires, hopes, and aspirations are reflected. Patriotism, as therein exhibited, roused the national spirit which had so long lain dormant. His writings, with a marked individuality of their own, have deeply moved and greatly influenced his countrymen all through the century. It is now generally allowed that Scottish song culminated in Burns.

True poetry can scarcely earn its title chiefly through a dexterity in so arranging and adjusting words that a musical cadence falls softly on the ear. Every true poem, at all worthy the name, must possess noble and pathetic thought as the foundation of the superstructure. This being secured, there can be thrown around the subject a robe of appropriate expression which cannot be too natural, or too delicate and musical.

True poetry touches man's soul, and appeals to the imagination that faculty enfolding the springs of being the potencies of the inner higher life. Scottish song and story are central in touch, inexhaustible in resources: poetic wealth of green fields and mountain breezes unwrought, undiscovered—still waiting to enrich and beautify the natural soul and character.

The first number of "Johnston's Musical Museum" appeared during the year Creech issued the first Edinburgh edition of Burns' poems, its main object being to preserve and improve the songs and music of Scotland. It should not be overlooked that the oldest musical airs of Scotland are in general older than the words with which they are now associated, and have often proved the inspirers of these-two, or may be three sets of words having followed each


other to the same tune. To Johnston's work Burns was solicited to contribute, and he wrote some songs for it.

He brought from obscurity a still greater number that in their original dress were either too uncouth, or too indecent-robing them anew in befitting language.

A greater than Johnston, however, appeared in the person of George Thomson of Edinburgh, who was fortunate in securing the assistance of Burns, and with his aid did more than any of his predecessors to give Scottish song and music the world-wide celebrity it has long enjoyed.

While all this is fully and freely acknowledged, it is at the same time believed that Burns moulded many of his pieces on ground work laid to hand by his predecessors, and that to many of them he was largely indebted. The times in which he lived were most opportune for a National Bard, for behind him there was a great background of song centuries old, which formed a great storehouse of inspiration. The touch of his genius transmuted these inferior metals into gold.


A very marked instance of this is found in what may be regarded as the best known and most widely diffused of Scottish songs—“ Auld Lang Syne." Here the soft lowland dialect, intermingled with the more northerly Doric, and formed a perfect instrument" in the hands of Burns. It greatly surpasses our present English in its simplicity and naivete, and could not be rendered into present-day language in its fluency and flow. If we substitute for "Auld Langsyne, "Old Long Since Ago," all its fine flavour is gone. Both the poetry and music of this fine old piece, as we now have it, were developed from that which existed long prior to the days of Burns. Thus it is, in both its parts, an example of the

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evolution of art. The earliest known form of the song appears so far back as the Bannantyne M.S. It again saw the light in somewhat altered guise in Watson's collection of Scottish poems, published in 1711, and subsequently in Ramsay's "Tea-Table Miscellany," issued in 1724.*

In a letter of Burns to Mrs Dunlop, dated 17th December 1788, enclosing a copy of the song as revised by himself, he wrote "There is an old song and tune which has often thrilled my soul," and he apostrophised it in these words-" Light lie the turf on the breast of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this glorious fragment."

We do not for one moment vindicate what has been styled the occasional coarseness and vulgarity of a few of Burns' poems; still, it is only justice to record that in these respects his literary failings are few compared with some of his predecessors. These arose chiefly from vitiated associates, through whose influence he showed a want of self-reliance, and a lack of self-mastery, and through whom the safeguards of his father's careful religious instruction and training did not prevent sad excesses in the gratification of his impetuous passions, which, alas, he found hard to restrain, and fatal to indulge, and which overbore the voice of conscience, from want of power to obey its dictates. It would, have imparted additional lustre to his name, and

*The Tea Table Miscellany, as its name implies, was intended to supply the more educated citizens of Edinburgh, in their social gatherings, with a selection of the best Scottish National Melodies. In this way were introduced to the drawing-rooms of the literati, those beautiful musical airs or songs, with the words, which had their "setting" mid the atmosphere of lowly rural cottages.

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