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to want an aim. I had felt some strivings of ambition, “ but they were the blind gropings of Homer's Cyclop “ around his cave.” Yes, gentlemen, the cave of penury and toil. Seven pounds a-year to mow with the mowers, to reap with the reapers, to thrash with the flail, and to guide the plough, his soul conscious the while of a nobler destiny—the chained eagle striving to soar and gaze on the sun—the imprisoned lark carolling sweetly in its dull cage, yet longing to mount and fill the air with its rich melody—(cheers). Nature and the muse were his solace, and the deep-felt sympathies of friendship and of love. The prospect grew darker. The dearest ties were rent asunder. He expected an exile's lot,
“ From thee, Eliza, I must go,
But at that crisis two warm friends encou
couraged the publication and sale of his poems, and he soon rose from the depths of woe to the pinnacle of fame—from frugal poverty to the luxurious entertainments of the rich and the gay in Edinburgh and elsewhere—with a keen relish for social converse and convivial enjoyment. And what did he find there? “Edinburgh," says Dr. Currie, , "contained an immense proportion of men, of con“siderable talents, devoted to social excesses, in which “their talents were wasted and debased.” I have seen a desolate mansion in Ayrshire, where a large fortune was dissipated. The proprietor and his sons were contemporaries of Burns. They kept open house, made whiskey-punch in tubs, and their daily hospitality ended in nightly intoxication. Sir Walter Scott has described the progress of the wine-flagon round the table of the Baron of Bradwardine, and Burns, in his “Song of the Whistle,” has celebrated a bacchanalian contest between three country gentlemen. The prize was ebony whistle, and he who was able to blow it after his two competitors were too drunk to do so was the conqueror, just as a cock, whose two rivals are dead
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beat and silenced, crows over them, lord of the dunghill --(laughter). Who does not regret that the muse should stoop to celebrate such orgies? The conversation and morals of the time were in keeping with them. And if in the metropolis and the provinces such vicious customs prevailed, what wonder that the peasantry should copy the example and often better the instruction—(hear, hear, hear)! Fashion may regulate dress and other social habits; but when she presumes to alter what is written on the eternal tablets of conscience and revelation, by substituting vice for virtue, fashion ought to be cast out as a profane intruder from the living temple which she dares to defile. Nor let it be forgotten that evil customs descend from the higher to the lower classes, like mists from the mountain, and may continue to spread darkness and pestilence, and misery, down in the valleys long after a brighter light_and a purer atmosphere reign on the heights above. Burns mingled freely in all ranks of society, and described their man
This may account for, though it cannot justify, much that he has written. But had he lived now he would have had no such orgies to celebrate—no such society in which to mingle. Happily, in the present day, to be a gentleman, yet a man addicted to intemperance, to loose, ribald, profane talk, are things irreconcilable-contradictions in terms. Burns, had he lived among the gentlemen of town and country now, would have found them not wasting their time and talents in debauchery, but improving agriculture, encouraging art and science, and literature, reforming abuses in mines and factories, as the noble Lord Shaftesbury and his associates have done, promoting temperance, cleanliness, health, comfort, diffusing Christianity at home and abroad, sheltering the homeless and relieving the miserable—(cheers). The warm sympathetic soul of Burns would not have been insensible to such influences, and a better employment would have been bestowed on him by his rich and generous and liberal friends, than to guage whiskey and to chronicle beer at every wayside inn for the pitiful
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salary of £ 70 a year! Much of our classic literature bears foul traces of the age when it was produced, and by which it was deteriorated. Milton is as pure as he is beautiful and sublime. But it is not always so with his glorious compeer, Shakspere. The strains of the gentle Cowper flowed in unsullied purity, but it is far otherwise with Dryden-(hear). But whatever is contrary to good morals is offensive to good taste. The false, the polluting, the bad, will perish. The good, the beautiful, the true, shall live. Inglorious trifles, originating in transient and baneful fashions, will vanish along with them—(hear). Those universal truths that come home to men's hearts and bosoms, shall endure to the end of time-(cheers). James Montgomery, the Christian poet, who lived at Sheffield, was born at Irvine, in Ayrshire, where Burns once lived. Montgomery, while regretting his inability to attend the commemoration of Burns, on the banks of the Doon, in 1844, wrote, “I have often and unreservedly expressed both in prose “and rhyme, my admiration of the genius and best “ writings of Robert Burns, though I could not in some “instances do otherwise than acknowledge that accord“ing to my sincere judgment his talents had not been “always worthily employed. What is good in his poems “ is excellently so, and that which is best in them puts "competition out of the field." “I have not,” said Montgomery on another occasion, “been niggardly of “my praise, nor yet of my censure, for there are portions “of Burns's works over which we must lament that they “ever were written.” During the last thoughtful and melancholy days of Burns, he told his most accomplished friend, Mrs. Riddel, that he feared that letters and verses written with improper freedom, and epigrams against those to whom he had borne no enmity, and many indifferent pieces with all their imperfections, which he would gladly destroy, would be thrust upon the world. It would have been well had greater regard been paid to his dying wish—(hear, hear). It is for us to fulfil it in what we read, and prize, and commemorate -to keep the gold, the ruby, and the diamond, leaving
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the baser earth behind—to extract the pearl, and cast the coarse and worthless shell into the waters of oblivion—(applause). Burns and Sir Walter Scott have made Englishmen and foreigners acquainted with their country. Even in Dr. Johnson's time Scotland was imagined to be a hilly region without trees, bleak and barren, inhabited by a race half barbarous and half clad, fed on oats like English dogs and horses, the clansmen and followers of lawless chieftains. Edinburgh was named
“ Auld Reekie,” smoky like London, to which Dr. Johnson would not object, but there were no police, and the houses were very high, and lazy cooks and housemaids in the eighth or tenth story, discharged the office of board of health by summary methods of domestic purification, perilous to passengers, which made the Doctor complain to Boswell of the Canongate and High Street after nightfall-(laughter). Now Englishmen are aware that romantic Edinburgh, the modern Athens, has few equals among cities; that commercial Glasgow is the Liverpool of the North ; and that the waters of the estuary of the Clyde are at least as clear as those of the Severn—(hear, hear). Highland chieftains and their clans are respected among their native hills and for many a well-fought field, and their merits are acknowledged south of the Tweed, with the exception, perhaps, of one chieftain, under whose plain uninviting exterior there is warmth of heart-a solid substantial worth which recommends him to his countrymen-I mean that great chieftain of the pudding race-haggis-cheers and laughter). What Burns and Scott together have done for Scotland, Burns did for Ayr
“Wham ne'er a town surpasses
A town situated between the rivers Ayr and Doon, and on the shore of the broad blue sea of the Firth of Clyde. Those two beautiful rivers and the neighbouring scenery of Ayrshire, and Dumfriesshire, Burns has
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made classic ground. And here you will pardon me for adverting to some facts incidentally relating to the family of him who has the honour to address you, as they are his apology for occupying this place, but especially as they are connected with the literary history of Burns, and therefore I am sure you will not regard them as egotistical. Indeed, I have no sympathy with that writer of a pamphlet who, when he sent to the printer for more proofs, received this reproof, “We “cannot set up more copy, for you have used up our “stock of capital I's”—(laughter). William Burns, the admirable father of the poet, was the gardener and bailiff of Mr. Fergusson, of Doonholm. A daughter of Mr. Fergusson married Mr. Hunter, of Bonnytown, also in Ayrshire, who became proprietor of Doonholm, of which the river Doon is the boundary for about a mile, flowing over its stony, rocky bed in streams and deep shady pools, where the trout and salmon love to play. The banks and braes, finely wooded, are of surpassing beauty. There is Alloway's “ Auld Haunted Kirk,” and the bridge over which the good mare fled pursued by witches, and Burns's cottage and his monument. The Rev. Dr. Hunter, Divinity Professor in Edinburgh University, a brother of Mr. Hunter, was proprietor of Barjarg, on the Nith, a few miles from Burns's farm of Ellisland, and their sister was the wife of Robert Aiken, to whom Burns dedicated the poem “The Cotter's Saturday Night,” the original copy of which, in his handwriting, is here—(cheers). It is described by Professor Wilson as the noblest poem ever dedicated to domestic devotion, and by Mr. Lockhart, as that which of all his poems we could spare the least. Mr. Lockhart mentions that when Burns was about to embark for the West Indies in despair, his warm friends, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Aiken, encouraged the publication and sale of his poems, and Gilbert Burns wrote to Dr. Currie that “The Cotter's Saturday Night' is “inscribed to Mr. Aiken, a man of worth and taste, of “warm affections, and connected with a most respectable * circle of friends and relations. The poems of my