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Burns went to hear a sermon, and saw a lady, who wore not “a precious jewel in her head,” but a bonnet very large and very lofty, fashionable then, but not now (laughter). By some untoward accident there had strayed upon that towering structure of millinery something that has not a local habitation nor a name in civilized society. Burns, with comic humour, traced its impudently ambitious career, and then finding good in everything, he exclaims

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us !
It wad frae mony a blunder free us

And foolish notion.
What airs in dress and gait wad lea'e us

And ev'n Devotion!”

Shakspere has well described an ancient fop, and Burns has sketched a modern one

“A little, upright, pert, tart, tripping wight,

And still his precious self his dear delight;
Who loves his own smart shadow in the streets
Better than e'er the fairest she he meets.”

We may have seen such a specimen of frail humanity on a sunny day when butterflies are out, contemplating his fair proportions on the pavement like another Narcissus, and deeming it too much honour for the vulgar crowd of passers by to tread on his illustrious shadow

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!”

Burns describes the natural according to nature. When he attempts the supernatural it is at least in an original way. The witches in “Tam O'Shanter" are unlike the awful weird sisters of Macbeth. They are a jovial crew of dancers, who, notwithstanding their horrible accom16

ONE HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY

paniments, inspire more of mirth than of dread. And so, in the “ Dialogue of Death and Dr. Hornbook," and in the " Address to the Devil,” solemnity of feeling yields to a jocund familiarity. In “Dr. Hornbook," Burns satirized a schoolmaster who presumed to administer medicines. Shakspere's Apothecary had “a “ beggarly account of empty boxes,” but not so the village doctor, whose catalogue of drugs is irresistibly comical

“ And then a doctor's saws and whittles,

Of a' dimensions, shapes, and mettles,
A' kinds o’ boxes, mugs, and bottles,

He's sure to hae;
Their Latin names as fast he rattles

As A B C.”

Calces o' fossils, earths, and trees;
True sal-marinum of the seas;
The Farina of beans and pease,

He has't in plenty;
Aqua-fontis, what you please,

He can content ye.

Forbye some new, uncommon weapons,
Urinus spiritus of capons ;
Or mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings

Distilled per se;
Sal-alkali of midge-tail clippings,

And mony mae.”

-(much laughter). Burns did not attempt to follow Milton in the great sublime, but in his “ Address to Satan,” after expostulating with the author of evil for the mischief he had wrought, he takes the reader by surprise with a touch of compassion, not only for the victims but for the Tempter

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The Vision in which, while he vowed to abandon poetry that found him poor and made him so, the Scottish Muse appeared to claim him as her own, and to bind him to her service, is poetry of the highest order

“I saw thee seek the sounding shore,

Delighted with the dashing roar;
Or when the north his fleecy store

Drove through the sky,
I saw grim Nature's visage hoar

Struck thy young eye.

Or when the deep-green mantled earth
Warm cherished every flow'ret's birth,
And joy and music pouring forth

In ev'ry grove,
I saw thee eye the gen’ral mirth

With boundless love.

When youthful love, warm, blushing, strong,
Keen-shivering shot thy nerves along,
Those accents, grateful to thy tongue,

Th' adored name,
I taught thee how to pour a song,

To soothe thy flame.

To give my counsels all in one,
Thy tuneful flame still careful fan ;
Preserve the dignity of man,

With soul erect;
And trust the universal plan

Will all protect.

18

ONE HUNDRETH BIRTHDAY.

And wear thou this—she solemn said,
And bound the holly round my head ;
The polished leaves and berries red,

Did rustling play ;
And, like a passing thought, she fled

In light away.”

The gravest moralist could not show more impressively the evanescence of pleasure than Burns does in his famous poem of “Tam O'Shanter," by a profusion of imagery

“ But pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flower, its bloom is shed !
Or like the snow-falls in the river,
A moment white—then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.”

In “Bruce's Address at Bannockburn” this highly figurative style is exchanged for the simplest, but full of fire and fervour

“By oppression's woes and pains !

By your sons in servile chains !
We will drain our dearest veins,

But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurper low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!

Let us do or die !”

Never was sorrowing gratitude more feelingly expressed than in the “Lament for the Earl of Glencairn”

“The bridegroom may forget the bride
Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
That on his head an hour has been ;
The mother may forget the child
That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
And a' that thou hast done for me!”

And how exquisite is his description of the pure and tender love of woman

“As in the bosom o' the stream

The moonbeam dwells at dewy e'en,
So trembling, pure, was tender love
Within the breast o' bonnie Jean."

He had solemnly exchanged lovers' vows with his Highland Mary Campbell, who died early, before they met again. As he lay on some sheaves of corn at Ellisland, gazing on the planet Venus, he composed this exquisitely beautiful and pathetic ode to “ Mary in Heaven” —

“Thou ling’ring star, with less'ning ray,

That lov'st to greet the early morn,
Again thou usher'st in the day

My Mary from my soul was torn.
O Mary! dear departed shade!

Where is thy place of blissful rest?
Seest thou thy lover lowly laid ?

Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast ?
That sacred hour can I forget ?

Can I forget the hallow'd grove,
Where by the winding Ayr we met,

To live one day of parting love ?
Eternity will not efface

Those records dear of transports past ;
Thy image at our last embrace;

Ah! little thought we 'twas our last !

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