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morning, to wait for me at Stirling. A friend has promised to send me a narrrative of such new fêtes as may be given to the King. This narrative will doubtless reach us in some solitary nook in Scotland, where civilization has not yet introduced its fireworks and its transparencies.
TO MR. M. P. BOUR DELON.
It was originally my wish to date my letters on Burns from Ayreshire; but after quoting his name several times in the first part of my tour, I think myself bound to state my opinions of his poetry beforehand; besides, it will perhaps be the means of interesting my readers more vividly in the history of his life, and that of his compositions. These I shall connect with the localities of Ayrshire, where he followed the plough, and those of Dumfries, where he was reduced to occupy a post in the excise. Thanks to the materials supplied by Doctor Currie, and to my own notes, I propose to introduce into the framework of an essay on Burns, some curious details respecting the education and manners of the Scotch people, which will serve by way of introduction to my letters on the course of study pursued at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The genius of Burns is not solely remarkable, because he can be counted as a phenomenon of the class from whence he sprung; but this labourer “rat de cave” is moreover a great poet, compared with the most distinguished names of English poetry. The man of the people, whose education was incomplete, betrays himself sometimes in such of his verses as want that elegant polish, that perspicuity, that refined raillery, and that delicacy which the familiarity with the world teaches much better than books; but when his subject supplied him with the inspiration natural to his genius or his humour, to his enthusiasm, or his ironical vivacity, the style of Burns, pure as it is correct, expresses alternately and with equal felicity, tenderness, and humourous joviality, as well as the most natural indignation, the most exalted sentiments, as well as epigrammatic sarcasm. Scotland is more proud of Burns than of any of her poets, and she is right to be so; the poetry of Burns is exclusively hers. It appertains to her soil, her climate, and her manners. No model has left its impression there; all is frank and original. Let me haste to quote an instance.
| THE VISION.
* DUAN FIRST.
The sum had closed the winter day
To kail-yards green, . . . .
Ye need nae doubt, I held my whisht;
Green, slender leaf-clad holly-boughs Were twisted, gracefu'round her brows, I took her for some Scottish Muse, By that same token; An' come to stop those reckless vows, Wou’d soon been broken.
A ‘hair-brain'd, sentimental trace' Was strongly marked in her face; A wildly-witty rustic grace Shone full upon her; Her eye, ev'n turn'd on empty space, Beem'd keen with honor.
Down flow'd her robe, a tartan sheen, "Till half a leg was scrimply seen; And such a leg 1 my bonnie Jean Could only peer it; Sae straught, sae taper, tight and clean, Nane else came near it.
Her mantle large, of greenish hue,
Here, rivers in the sea were lost; There, mountains to the skies were tost : Here, tumbling billows mark'd the coast, With surging foam; There, distant shone art's lofty boast, The lordly dome.
Here, Doon pour'd down his far-fetched floods; There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds: Auld hermit Ayr staw thro’ his woods, On to the shore; And many a lesser torrent scuds, With seeming roar.
Low, in a sandy valley spread,
By stately tow'r or palace fair,
My heart did glowing transport feel,
His Country's SAvious, mark him well
There, where a sceptr'd Pictish shade