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ter. We remark with what admirable coolness the critic, with a single stroke of his pen, destroys the character of the poet as a “gentleman," simply, because he does not choose to walk in the very footsteps of my lord Chesterfield. And then too the profound, sagacious, and truthful remark which follows:-“indicates rather the pride of a sturdy peasant, than the calm and natural elevation of a generous mind.”
Indeed! the world ought certainly to feel itself vastly obliged to this “great literary authropophagus,” for thus unmasking ihe real motives of the poet, and exposing his real character in all its naked deformity to our view. We might otherwise have misjudged of such noble acts as those we have mentioned, and ascribed them to false motives. But now we cannot mistake. When he risked the dangers of a frightful death to save a companion from a like fate, when in the tempestuous night he seeks the humble abode of poverty and gives his all to relieve the wants of the unfortunate, with no eye save that of the All-seeing, to witness the noble deed,—when he sacrifices the long and earnestly desired treasure which was dearest to his heart, to minister to the wants of the suffering stranger—these acts do not indicate the “calm and natural elevation of a generous mind," but only the “sturdy pride of a peasant.”
But seriously, to wbat 'stale, flat, unprofitable uses’ is criticism subjected, when thus perverted from its high ends and made the instrument of personal resentment and jealousy, against a posthumous fame! And with what suspicion, nay, contempt, do we regard the opinions of a critic, who, from what he deems a fault in an author's style, while utterly ignorant of his personal character, thus imperiously pronounces his dictum, and seeks to destroy the noblest qualities of the heart, in one whose private beneficence and retiring generosity, though adding infinitely to the merit of the gift, render it far more difficult for the donor to shield himself from the attacks of an envious criticism! True, indeed, the Reviewer afterwards uses somewhat different language in speaking of the poems of the bard, but perhaps no man better than Jeffrey knows how to
“Damn with faint phraise, with civil leer commend." But, thank Heaven, the poet has come down to us a true man, unchanged from the rude, strong mould in which Nature cast him. He is not a • Phantasm or · Appearance, nor owns fellowship with such. He scorned to waste his energies, or sacrifice bis independence, by a foolish conformity to the conventional customs of society; and though he sometimes unwittingly transgressed the rules of decorum, he never voluntarily was the cause of an unkind feeling. We do not scruple to say, that we are an admirer, if you please, an ardent admirer of the genius and character of Burns. That he had faults, it is not denied, but we believe fewer and of a less heinous nature, than many of his detractors, who claim a spotless reputation. They were faults of the head, rather than the heart, and such was his frank, unsuspecting disposition, that his vices were all open to the world. But such is the strange perverseness of the human heart, that it is a thankless task to preserve the memory of a man's good deeds, while the multitude listens with savage delight, and revels in the descriptions of one, who portrays and rehearses the foibles and weaknesses of human nature.
“There is a lust in man no power can tame,
Of loudly publishing his neighbor's shame,
While virtuous deeds are only born to die." We love the sentiment of the noble Roman, " Nil de mortuis, nisi bonum.” Steep was the ascent, dark and rugged the pathway of the noble bard during his pilgrimage life, and who shall wonder if his steps sometimes halted or slipped in the toilsome way ? “ Poor human nature ! Is not a man's walking in truth, always that: 'a succession of falls ?' Man can do no other. In this wild element of a Life, he has to struggle onwards; now fallen, deep-abased; and ever with tears, repentance, with bleeding heart, he has to rise again, struggle again still onward. That his struggle be a faithful, unconquerable one ; that is the question of questions. We will put up with many sad details, if the soul of it were true.” That his soul was true, we know; and therefore judge his struggle was not unavailing.
Fearfully exciting and dreadful was the contest of the mighty Genius with his Fate,-becoming near its close even terribly sublime. Age had not bowed his form, nor disease wasted his energies ; but in the full strength of vigorous manhood and unimpaired reason, he grappled with his last enemy. Ever wilder waxes the elemental strife, nearer mutters the thunder, and darker gloom the storm-clouds o'er him, until the last faint ray of the star of hope is lost, and the darkness of despair gathers fast around him. Far, far aloof stand the false friends who could smile upon him during the brief sunshine of his prosperity, and hung with delighted ear upon the harmonious strains of his now silent harp; and who will again be proud of the transcendent genius of their native bard, when his dust is mouldering in its humble, unhonored grave. And yet, he is not alone. Even this poor privilege which, at such an hour, the meanest of God's creatures might claim, is denied him. As thirsty blood.hounds with savage joy lap the last red drop of oozing life from the quivering heart of the noble game that has fallen beneath their attacks, so closely do the despicable minions of the law press the weary steps of their victim : and even while his frame is. racked with torturing pain, and the ineluctabile tempus' heaves in view, in a voice of agony he begs a paltry sum to save his body from the loathsome jail ! * * * No friend at last? Yes, one All-powerful. When all others have forsaken, the King of Terrors comes as a welcome messenger to perform the last kind act for the sufferer. It is the moment of victory for one whose whole life has been spent in a : stern conflict against a malignant Destiny. For a few brief hours, while the grim monster lingers, as poising his unerring dart, his persecutors, like craven cowards, shrink abashed as they gaze with awe upon the calm features, stamped with the image of death; and as the monarch lays his icy hand upon his heart, “a proud smile of triumph
lights the minstrel's eye, as his soul passes to the far off spirit land,' to mingle its music with the immortal strains of those
"Olympian bards who sung
Divine ideas below,
And always keep us so.” We have yet other Recollections of the Poet, which perchance we may submit hereafter. Till then, kind reader, adieu. :
" THE MOTHER'S GRAVE.”
Reader, were you ever in a grave-yard ? I do not mean the proud and monumented cemetery of some neighboring city, where the bones of the dead may scarce rest in peace, while the tread of the living, thoughtless sight-seer is ever echoing overhead; but were you ever in a quiet country church-yard ? beside its little ivy-covered church, containing the plain and unpretending, but no less impressive tomb-stones of a former generation. If you have, you must have enjoyed a few tranquil moments, such as seldom visit the breast that is racked with restless realities of the world. Do not such places and such scenes seem providentially adapted to call forth all the purer emotions of the soul, and hold them in sweet communion aloof from the baser ones that elsewhere absorb them? Here stands the church, plain and unadorned, save by such beauties as nature may have bestowed, where the simple villagers once worshiped with all the fervent gratitude of untutored nature, and here around lies all that earth can claim-their bones on earth-their souls with their Giver. Could you have entered such a place without thinking of your own insignificance, and the utter worthlessness of worldly goods as blessings ? Did not there come to you through the silence around, a “small, still voice” more impressive and · more convincing than the proudest burst of human eloquence, the voice of nature thrilling on the mind, "and thou too must soon be cold !" Ah, yes ! if you are human and possess the faculties of a rational being, such must have been your meditations and such your conviction. Then how many tales of woe or happiness may not those grave-mounds commemorate-of hopes once bright, but soon blighted-of friendships that were changed into loathings -of piety turned from her paths-of wealth cloaking foul deeds of iniquity-of poverty clad in the garb of misery-all crowding there so closely together that their very identity becomes lost in their proximity. Such thoughts as these must have crowded upon your mind, especially if you have ever stood alone within the precincts of a quiet country church-yard.
I chanced once to be on a visit at a neat country town, whose inhabitants principally consisted of those substantial old farmers and mechanics who compose, if not the wealthiest, still the most useful and valua
ble portion of our population. Few events ever occurred to disturb the quiet of these worthy villagers, save when they met to select those who should see to the well-doing of the little community, or when some day of national jubilee called them forth to enjoy the green-sward dance. Here you might find true happiness, and its elements, industry, integrity, and consequent comfort. Why need philosophers invent their theories to find a receipt for happiness in vague terms of the imagination, or attempt by their metaphysics to mystify a principle at once so plain and simple ? But so it is in the world; we willfully blind our eyes and senses to those things that are revealed, and yet with impious hands try to tear off the veil from those secrets which Nature has chosen should remain undivulged. Dou you ask what is happiness? go forth in the world and see for yourself, a Nature trained up in the paths of virtue. and simplicity-where you find that you have found happiness.
It was a Sabbath afternoon, when having listened to the inspired words of their venerable pastor, the little congregation had left the village church and retired to the comforts of their respective homes. I was left alone upon the low stone steps that rose to the door, and mechanically leaving them, I turned towards the grave-yard that lay in the rear. It was surrounded by a neat white fence, the little gate of which was unlocked and unfastened, save by a bolt. A summer's sun was setting behind the distant hills, and flooding all things with the redness of its flashing rays. The scene was indeed magnificent. Though I had seen many a grander and wilder prospect, I had never beheld one at the same time so simple and lovely. I opened the little gate and passed within. Around me lay the remains of those whose earthly strife had ceased forever. Here lay a grave with its time.eaten tomb-stone nearly covered over with the long dank weeds that surrounded it, and close by its side another, bearing traces of recent construction. Judging by the manner in which the green sod above was trimmed and bright flowers planted around, I conjectured that it must engage the attention of some sorrowing friend of its cold occupant. Ah! thought I aloud, the old man dieth and soon his name passeth away in his grave; the young man dieth and they plant flowers over his head—but the flowers, too, have their day to blossom and to die !-so it is with all earthly things, but all things are not of the earth! Who knows what these graves around me might not say, could they send forth a voice ?
“Ah! who knows indeed ?" said a deep toned voice behind.
I started and turned, for I thought not to meet the living at the home of the dead! There stood a gray-headed man, holding in his hand a bunch of keys; he was dressed in a neat Sabbath suit, and his eye still sparkled with the brightness of former years. I immediately divined that he was the sexton of the little church hard by.
“Young man,” said he, “if you had my years and my experience, you might well say “who knows ?" These graves are mostly my work; for fifty years have I hollowed out their narrow beds for the departed of yonder village, and helped to carry them to their last long sleep. Many a tear have I shed for parents, children, and friends-many a one to witness the grief of the living left behind-soon I 100 must take my place by their sido; ah! how soon like them be forgotten !"
“ Doubtless, good sir, yours can have been no very pleasant duty; it is always a sad thing to witness the grief of others bereaved.”
“You are right again, young man," said he, “mine has been a sorrowful task, for many a scene have I witnessed that would draw tears from a heart of stone-grief such as is not to be found in the hearts of your city worldlings. See you those two graves yonder in the corner ? There lies a broken-hearted mother, and by her side the cause, her only son! Poor George! many a time have I held him in my arms when a bright-eyed boy, and never thought that one so fair and so noble would one day need my aid to bear him to his grave. Wo! to those who led him astray-the day of reckoning must come at length, and a mother's death will be a heavy burden for them to bear!"
“ Will you not relate the tale to me ? for I see by your countenance that it is an interesting one," said I.
“Interesting indeed, and a sad one too, for it is a tale of happiness and prosperity turned into one of misery and death! If you will listen, I will tell you in a few words the leading facts of the story, and you will then understand why this spot is called by our simple-hearted villagers, “the mother's grave."
We seated ourselves on a broad stone slab, and the old man began :
“Do you see that house hard by, just rising above those noble poplars that surround it ? it is somewhat dilapidated now, for six long years have rolled away since they (pointing to the graves,) were borne together from its doors. That was once the dwelling of a worthy mother and a devoted son ;-now it is an object of superstition, and few would venture to cross its threshold after set of sun I knew them both well once, and no one could have thought that so much misery was in store for that mother's heart, or that the seeds of vice would spring up in that of her son. She was the widow of a man who had in the latter part of his life become a dissipated and abandoned character, and had died at last with a curse upon his lips, in a fit of insane drunkenness. This had well-nigh broken the heart of the poor wise, but she lived on for her only son, then a boy of bright talents and prospects indeed. For many years after the death of her husband she had devoted herself with untiring energy to the education of her boy, for although they had lost the greater part of their former wealth, they still possessed enough to render them comfortable. George was a noble boy, and from his earliest years had given signs of the most distinguished talents. None could compete with him either in the school-room or in their boyish sports ; and although in his nature there was a mixture of fiery energy and self-will, still no one was a greater favorite among all classes of our little community. A handsomer boy there never was—with dark chestnut hair, a large flashing eye, and a form of the purest symmetry. Although at other times kind and gentle to all, when once aroused none dared dispute his will—all cowered beneath the flash of his dark bright eye. No one had any influence over him at such times except his mother, and the simple exclamation from her, “ George, I am ashamed of you," brought him to himself in a moment.
“Mother, forgive me, but I could not help it.”