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There fix thy chosen dwelling,
And bid the world away;
And mirth untimely gay.
With joys' full current flow,
Thy little heaven below.
A thousand echoes in the horizon blue,
With watchful silence heard the dying lay.
As angels come to bear the soul away,
And Ernest, nestled in a strange delight,
But movelessly he watched the spirit bright,
[To be concluded.)
RECOLLECTIONS OF BURNS.
“ A man's a man for a' that."
In a paper which we contributed to · Maga’ a few years since, we furnished a few · Recollections' of Scotland's sweetest bard. Thomas Kennedy, the playmate and intimate friend of Robert Burns, still lives, though a 'change has come o'er the spirit of his dream,' since the time to which we allude.
His head is silvered with the frosts of four-score years and ten, and his noble form at length begins to bend beneath the infirmities of age. No longer does he tread with lightsome step and free,' as was his daily wont, the wild glens and grassy vales of his romantic estate, so like his Highland home; no longer lure the silver spotted trout from beneath the grassy bank of the quiet stream, nor does his trembling arm speed the light canoe over the tranquil Owasco-whose sparkling waves, “so darkly, deeply, beautifully blue," might rival his native far famed Windermere. But his eye yet kindles with lustre of his youthful prime,' his tongue is still eloquent of the scenes and deeds of other days in which he participated, and his heart is still warm with that philanthropic love and broad Scottish humor, which is proof against the encroachments of time. His long and eventful life has been an experience of no ordinary interest. With Jeffrey, Scott, and Wilson, he has often
enjoyed the feast of reason and the flow of soul, while the subject of our notice was to him as a younger brother.
During a week spent with Mr. Kennedy the past summer, we gathered many interesting items of his idolized poet, only a few of which we at present submit to the public.
We love to contemplate the Scottish character. There is about it a greatness of soul, a noble frankness and straight forwardness of purpose which challenges our warmest admiration. Some one, no matter who, has said, that
“ An honest man's the noblest work of God," and we would add as a corollary, therefore “a Scotchman is the noblest work of God.” The Scotch are a race of Heroes and Philosophers. Nursed among the wild and romantic scenery of their mountain Highlands, from their infancy they breathe an air sacred to freedom; while the unflinching firmness with which they have adhered to the principles of the Protestant faith, attests the sincerity of their belief, and a strength of moral courage unparalleled in the history of nations. The first martial history that captivated our youthful genius, was that of William Wallace, and we have ever since regarded the Scottish character with a sort of reverential awe and admiration ; while the works which we most affect in our elder boyhood' are the miscellaneous and other writings of the immortal Kit North. We always carry a volume of his works in our pocket as an infallible preventive of ennui. philosopher, metaphysician, statesman, poet, and divine, we will stake Kit against the universe. By the way, reader, have you ever perused his Noctes, or Miscellanies? No? Then let us advise you to throw aside your musty text books of ancient lore, where you imbibe such "shallow draughts as intoxicate the brain," and revelling in a more magnificent creation of genius than any Aladdin's palace, as you peruse some such article as a “ Winter's Rhapsody," if you do not rise a wiser, happier, and better man, then you are a most
But to the Recollections of Burns. A thrilling incident related by Mr. K. strikingly illustrates the kindness of his heart, his daring spirit, and presence of mind. When scarce sixteen years old, Burns with several companions on a holiday excursion, had wandered far away from home to a wild, unfrequented spot. They were on the brow of a ledge of rocks many hundred feet high, overhanging a dark ravine below. · Many feet beneath, on a slightly projecting cliff of the almost perpendicular rock, an eagle's nest was discovered. The eggs of the royal bird were in full view, and the temptation was too great to leave without an effort to obtain them. One of the boldest of the company venturing as far down the rock as he dared, with a slight net affixed to the end of a long pole, was endeavoring to reach the prize. Suddenly, the slaty, crumbling rock on which he stood gave way, and with a loud shriek he slid down downwards on the side of the rugged wall, till after a descent of some feet, his foot rested on a slight projection of rock, and catching with one hand a shrub, he remained hair-hung between heaven and earth, where the least movement of limb or muscle would be a certain awful death.
Moment of what thrilling emotions! Far, far beneath, the occasional sullen dashing of the dark waters over the pointed, jagged rocks was heard, mingling with the mournful sugh of the winds wailing through the narrow defile, while the wild, angry scream of the eagle approaching her eyerie, was now heard above the agonizing cries of the poor victim, who every moment thought the slight bush to which he clung giving way in his grasp. Horror was depicted in the countenances of his young companions, who knew not how to act. It was too far to call for assistance, and the help must be instant. Burns alone possessed daring and presence of mind equal to the emergency. Seizing a cord which was luckily with the company, though apparently not equal to his companion's weight, and descending to the very spot where he had stood, he succeeded in fastening the cord to his body, while the boys were to pull from above. Gradually, and with fearful intense interest they pulled, the cord so far sustaining his weight that he was able to turn himself, and assist their endeavors by his own efforts. Fear added superhuman strength to his exertions—he clung with an iron grasp to the almost naked rock; step by step he rose, until at length he stood on the top, free from danger! No shout of triumph was raised by the little troop-no boisterous manifestations of joy,—but the silent tear, the subdued voice, the warm pressure of the trembling hand, all told their grateful emotions at so wonderful an escape.
Honor to the brave! Here, in his very boyhood, were developed these traits of noble daring and contempt for danger, which enabled him cheerfully to bear up against the buffetings of an adverse fortune, with which it was the sad lot of the gisted poet to contend through life. Such a trait of character, is of itself sufficient to cover a multitude of sins.'
Or, take another: It was in Edinburgh, after he had begun to receive the meed of his well-earned fame, and was courted and caressed by the nobility and first literary circles in the city. On a cold, stormy evening, he might have been seen wending his lonely way to an obscure part of the city, for the purpose of visiting the widow of one of his early friends. He knocked at the door of the humble tenement in a dark alley, and was admitted by the widow into a poorly-furnished room, dimly lighted by a single taper.
“ Safe us! Mr. Burns is it? I hadna thocht to hae' seen yer face under my ruf sich a fearsome nicht.”
“Tut my gude woman, did ye think Bobby Burns has lost sicht of his auld frinds ? Hoo are ye the nood' and ihe bairns, syne the cauld autumn weets 'gan fall ?'”
"O, but it's unco kind in ye, Mr. Burns, to be lookin' after the likes o'me, and my weans. Fient! it is sairly fasht* we hae' been syne the dear auld heart gan'to Abraham's bosom. Mony and mony an e’ening hae' the wee things been sent shiverin' to their scrimpet cot, without even a sowp of barley broo'.”
“Hech! but it's a wickit warl we lir in! My ain husban's brither, as he sed the law allooed him, took the leetle he left us, to keepit' for our use, and sorry a bit hae' ne seen syne. Mony's the cauld winter day I've sat alone in my sark weepin' by the scrimpet ingle side—not for mysel, Mr. Burns—but ye ken the poor bairns cryin' for bread" —
Burns put in her hand a fifty pound note. “ Gude hae' mercy on us! but ye dinna mane Mr. Burns to gie' .” but ere she could finish her sentence the generous poet had vanished, leaving her overpowered with astonishment and gratitude at this munificent gist from so unexpected a source. Like an angel of mercy he had descended to perform a noble act of charity, and felt fully compensated by the consciousness of having caused the heart of the widow and fatherless to weep for joy.
Some, it may be, will feel little interest in these simple incidents in the private life of this brilliant genius, and truly national poet. Such can pass by on the other side. In making public these hitherto private memoirs of this remarkable man, we trespass upon no one's rights-seek to influence no man's opinion. If in those who admire his soaring origiual genius, whose hearts have been touched by the sweetly simple, yet elevating strains of his Muse—who reverence the quiet benevolence and frankness of his magnanimous heart, we can but increase that love, reverence, and admiration, our object will be accomplished.
Here we have an instance of that true benevolence and retiring charity that we so seldom meet with-a fulfillment of the command, élet thine alms be in secret.' Much that passes in the world for benevolence, is but falsely so called. The rich man rolling in wealth, who has never had a wish ungratified, who feels secure from future want, gives a thousand, or perchance ten thousand, for some praiseworthy object. Immediately his name with the deed is noised abroad, by the trump of fame, and the unthinking multitude are all agape at such unbounded benevolence. Sad misnomer! He has made but a holocaust to his despicable pride, and offered a golden sacrifice to feed his vanity with the increase of vulgar adulation. We may be thankful for the gift, but despise the giver.
But when a man, who, though possessing a delicate sensibility and a spirit of noble-hearted independence, has felt the mortifying degradation of dependence, who has experienced the bitterness of a poverty so deep as even to see his family in want of the necessaries of life, who has nothing except his own unaided efforts to secure him from the like want in future, voluntarily gives his all to one who has no claims upon him save the ordinary ties of humanity, we feel the sublimity of the act, and forgetting the gift, the heart pays its willing tribute to Nature's nobleman. Such a giver was Robert Burns. It is from his private, unstudied acts and words, that we learn a man's real character and the true out-goings of his heart. Life is a drama, wherein the public acts and words of men, are but assumed dresses to hide their real characters and deceive the superficial eye. While a few would gain by laying aside the mask, the most would appear in such deformed characters, as to frighten the spectators from the scene, and leave the actors a prey to each other's passions.
I have felt
We give a short extract of a letter to Mr. K. in reply to an advantageous business offer made by him to Burns, but which the poet was not in a condition to accept :
“ MauchlINE, May, 1793. “ I feel under the highest obligations, my kind friend, for your truly advantageous offer received by last night's mail. I am fully sensible of the pecuniary advantages I should reap from such an arrangement; but alas! the circumstances of my family at present prevent my acceptoffer.
It has been the darling wish of my heart, to see my family in such circumstances that they shall not be dependent on the cold charity of the world after my death. While my own life and health is spared, I do not fear-I defy Fortune to do her worst-but then, the hereafter. At some future day, it may be, I shall be censured by those utterly ignorant of my true motives and feelings, for having expressed myself with the freedom and boldness which I have often used on this subject. But since the opinion of all the critics in the Empire matters not a d-n to me, I shall continue to speak as I think in this matter. all I have said, and would say it again, in like circumstances. Whatever I have written that my friends think creditable, I have accomplished during the leisure moments of a laborious vocation ; and whenever I have referred to this, it has been, as my friends well know, not in a boasting manner, but as not being ashamed of the avails of honest labor. I do not wish to conceal that I feel the most supreme contempt for those whom rank or fortune may have given a temporary importance, without a particle of real merit. But N'importe."
Ha! ha! ha! Would that that old scarifier, Jeffrey, could have read this
passage ere he proceeded to don his invincible armor for the praiseworthy purpose of annihilating his brother Scotsman. Methinks we see him seated in his portentous chair of fate, with his folio spread before him, carefully adjusting his spectacles and nibbing his pen preparatory to the following solemn denunciation :
“Akin to this most lamentable trait of vulgarity, (proh pudor!) and indeed in some measure arising out of it, is that perpetual boast of his own independence, which is obtruded upon the readers of Burns in almost every page of his writings. The sentiment itself is noble, and it is often finely expressed ;—but a gentleman would only have expressed it when he was insulted or provoked ; and would never have made it a spontaneous theme to those friends in whose estimation he felt that his honor stood clear. It is mixed up, too, in Burns with too fierce a tone of defiance, and indicates rather the pride of a sturdy peasant, than the calm and natural elevation of a generous mind."
Jeffrey's Essays, Vol. 2, p. 396. Very well! Mr. Jeffrey has kindly condescended to inform us how he would have made the poet Burns, but the God of Nature saw fit to shape him in a very different mould. Whether the great Reviewer would have improved upon the original, we have no means of ascertain. ing, as unfortunately he had not the power to realize his ideal charac