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to nothing of the substance or structure of our souls, so cannot account for these seeming caprices in them, that we should be particularly pleased with this thing or struck with that, which on minds of a different cast makes no extraordinary impression. I have some flowers in spring, that I view and hang over with particular delight. I never hear the loud, solitary whistle of the curlew, in a summer noon, or the mixing cadence of a troop of grey plover in an autumnal morning, without feeling an elevation of soul like the enthusiasm of devotion or poetry. Tell me, my dear friend, to what can this be owing? Are we a piece of ma chinery, which like the Eolian harp, passive takes the impression of the passing accident? Or do these workings argue something within us above the trodden clod? I own myself partial to such proof of those awful and important realities-a God that made all things-man's immaterial and immortal nature-and a world of weal or woe beyond death and the grave."

Such examples as the preceding might almost convince us of the justice of Dr. Robertson's opinion, that Burns' prose was more extraordinary than his verse, and fully sus tain the remark of Prof. Stewart, that "his predilection for poetry was rather the result of his own enthusiastic and impassioned temper than of a genius exclusively adapted to that species of composition." Thus, in writing letters, cultivating his farm, and to some extent his acquaintance with the muses, his time was passed for the space of thre years, during which his pecuniary affairs became daily more and more involved. He had too much of poetry and generosity in his mind and heart, to be a successful business-man, without a greater share of close calculating prudence than often falls to the share of genius. Conse quently, his farm, though generally well cultivated, was

less productive than those of others, and his purse less bloated by its master's selfishness.

The decline of his affairs at length determined him to give up his farm and accept the excise appointment, which awaited but his application. Having decided to devote his entire attention to the duties of his office, he applied for and obtained the Dumfries division, with an annual salary of £70. Removing to that place, he was sure of a regular though narrow income, and entertaining hopes that his diligent services might at no distant date be rewarded with something better. Still, pleasant memories bound him to the scene of blissful experiences, while a gloomy presentiment of approaching ill fell like a cloud upon the sunlit surface of his soul.

Sad is it, indeed, to leave forever a place in which we have long been happy. The parting spirit, like the Trojan dames, will cling to its very stones and kiss them with a mournful valediction; and when the sun for the last time goes down upon the roof we have called home, its golden ray seems brown with sorrow, and dying slowly, fades into a melancholy gloom. Burns renounced with pain his cherished hope to remain an independent cultivator of the soil, and turned with reluctance to another pursuit alike foreign to his habits and hostile to his tastes.

And here let us pause to consider a reflection suggested by a poet's life-the equality of Providence in its distributions. Have we not often been ready to complain that the Supreme Donor has exhibited an invidious partiality in his diverse gifts to the children of men, and in nothing more than the conferance of genius-his most exalted bestowment? Why, it may be bitterly inquired, why am I so little and gross and near-sighted, when Newton and Bacon. and Locke were so great, perspicacious, almost angelic?

Why did not the universal Father give me too the brain of Plato or of Tully? Why cannot I soar aloft as Milton, or glow with the fire of Byron, or thrill with the heart-melting tenderness of Burns? Forbear, presumptuous blasphemer! Hushed be thy complaint, since thou may'st see Milton's sightless eyes and hear the anguish of his stricken soul; since Byron's life was but a long and weary heartdrawn sigh, as bitter to him as its echo in his moody verse is sweet to us; since Burns' pilgrimage from Ayrshire to Dumfries was but a funeral march, and its wild wailing music, "man was made to mourn." Oh, envy not the sons of genius: their flight is higher and their rapture more intense than ours, but their fall is also lower and their agony more keen. Increase of sensibility means increase of torture, and he who craves the one must woo the other also. "Why should a living man complain?" Let us not ungrateful curse our fate because we are unequal to the highest. Let us rather thank God for the blessings of our assigned position, and strive to acquit ourselves manfully of its obligations.

We have seen Burns leaving Ellisland with regret, and settling in Dumfries with almost despair. This unpleasant state of dissatisfaction with his position did not permit that mental calm which is almost as essential to virtue as to happiness. As a refuge from harassing care, the moody poet at times indulged in undue conviviality, and was not unfrequently intemperate in his use of alcoholic stim ulants. Some unfortunate occurrences soon after took place, affecting his standing with the superior officers of his department, and entirely precluding any reasonable hope of future promotion; so that his prospect in life was narrowed to a long road of poverty, leading to an humble tomb, over which in fancy he could see the desolate and des

titute sharer of his being, weeping in unsolaced woe among a starving troop of their orphan offspring. Such a fate, when its horror was almost equaled by its certainty, might almost excuse the aberration of an ardent soul, while their mournful cause will not cease to be as profoundly deplored as their ruinous effects. Mental anxiety, and the life of dissipation to which it led, made rapid inroads on a constitution already broken by premature and excessive toil, and under the accumulated weight of his oppressions Robert Burns sunk to an early grave, on the 21st day of July 1796, at the age of 37 years.

"Alas, 't was ever, ever thus,

The brightest sons of genius soonest die."

The necessary limit of these remarks does not permit a dissertation, however brief, on the poetry of Burns-we can only pause to consider in a word the most important moral of his life.

Lockhart, in his biography, with an excusable zeal for the poet's reputation, has ingeniously attempted, if not to conceal, at least to color the indisputable fact, that during his later years he was more and more addicted to the vice of drunkenness. It is ever painful to state the whole truth in plain words, when the subject is some weakness of a cherished friend, and the old motto, "de mortuis nihil sed bonum," is the natural language of a generous if a mistaken sentiment. But is it not better that a great good man's faults should preach to after generations a sermon all the more impressive by their incongruity with his general virtue, than that a sickly tenderness should bury them beneath a heap of charitable misrepresentations? Be it then confessed with pain, that Robert Burns, a heaven-anointed bard, one of the mental kings of earth, was weakened in

the sinews of his soul, by the seducing embrace of that purple harlot, the convivial wine-cup. Let the lovers of his verse and the admirers of his character take warning and avoid his error: let them beware lest they be overcome of evil, striving rather to overcome evil with good. Many and mighty are the abducent influences with which we have all daily to contend. The struggle must be laborious and life-long, but the victory to a determined soul is, with divine assistance, as certain as it is glorious. Let us then learn to meet the ills of life, not mournfully but with cheerfulness. Let us bear them with a patient heroism, never seeking refuge in a temporary insensibility nor in the cowardly intoxication of frivolity. Moral chloroform is a dastard's refuge from discipline.

"Oh, fear not, in a world like this,
And thou shalt know ere long,

Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong."

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