« ForrigeFortsæt »
all her attention, and forgets that there is another object in the world.
Mrs. Carter thinks on the subject of dreams as every body else does, that is to say, according to her own experience. She has had no extraordinary ones, and therefore accounts them only the ordinary operations of the fancy. Mine are of a texture that will not suffer me to ascribe them to so inadequate a cause, or to any cause but the operation of an exterior
I have a mind, my dear, (and I will venture to boast of it,) as free from superstition as any man living, neither do I give heed to dreams in general as predictive, though particular dreams I believe to be so. sensible persons, and, I suppose, Mrs. Carter among them, will acknowledge that in old times God spoke by dreams, but affirm with much boldness that he has since ceased to do so. If you ask them why, they answer, because he has now revealed his will in the Scripture, and there is no longer any need that he should instruct or admonish us by dreams. I grant that with respect to doctrines and precepts he has left us in want of nothing, but has he thereby precluded himself in any of the operations of his Providence? Surely not. It is perfectly a different consideration; and the same need that there ever was of his interference in this way
there is still, and ever must be, while man continues blind and fallible, and a creature beset with dangers, which he can neither foresee nor obviate. His operations however of this kind are, I allow, very rare; and, as to the generality of dreams, they are made of such stuff, and are in themselves so insignificant, that, though I believe them all to be the manufacture of others, not our own, I account it not a farthing-matter who manufactures them. So much for dreams !
My fever is not yet gone, but sometimes seems to leave me. It is altogether of the nervous kind, and attended now and then with much dejection.
A young gentleman called here yesterday who came six miles out of his way to see me. on a journey to London from Glasgow, having just left the University there. He came, I suppose, partly to satisfy his own curiosity, but chiefly, as it seemed to bring me the thanks of some of the Scotch professors for my two volumes. His name is Rose, an Englishman. Your spirits being good, you will derive more pleasure from this incident than I can at present, therefore I send it.* Adieu, very affectionately,
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
Weston, July 24, 1787. Dear Sir—This is the first time I have written these six months, and nothing but the constraint of
* Mr. Rose was the son of Dr. Rose, of Chiswick, who formerly kept a seminary there. He was at this time a young man, distinguished by talent and great amiableness of cha. racter, and won the regard and esteem of Cowper. He soon became one of his favourite correspondents.
obligation could induce me to write now. I cannot be so wanting to myself as not to endeavour, at least, to thank you both for the visits with which you have favoured
you sent me; in my present state of mind I taste nothing, nevertheless I read, partly from habit, and partly because it is the only thing I am capable of.
Ι I have therefore read Burns' poems, and have read them twice; and, though they be written in a language that is new to me, and many of them on subjects much inferior to the author's ability, I think them on the whole a very extraordinary production. He is, I believe, the only poet these kingdoms have produced in the lower rank of life since Shakspeare (I should rather say since Prior) who need not be indebted for any part of his praise to a charitable consideration of his origin and the disadvantages under which he has laboured. It will be a pity if he should not hereafter divest himself of barbarism, and content himself with writing pure English, in which he appears perfectly qualified to excel. He who can command admiration dishonours himself if he aims no higher than to raise a laugh.
I am, dear Sir, with my best wishes for your prosperity, and with Mrs. Unwin's respects, Your obliged and affectionate humble servant,
Burns is one of those instances which the annals of literature occasionally furnish of genius surmounting every
obstacle by its own natural powers, and rising to commanding eminence. He was a
Scottish peasant, born in Ayrshire, a native of that land where Fingal lived and Ossian sung.* He rose from the plough, to take his part in the polished and intellectual society of Edinburgh, where he was admitted to the intercourse of Robertson, Blair, Lord Monboddo, Stewart, Alison, and Mackenzie, and found a patron in the Earl of Glencairn.
His poetry is distinguished by the powers of a vivid imagination, a deep acquaintance with the recesses of the human heart, and an ardent and generous sensibility of feeling. It contains beautiful delineations of the scenery and manners of his country.
Many of her rivers and mountains,” observes his biographer,t “ formerly unknown to the muse, are now consecrated by his immortal verse; the Doon, the Lugar, the Ayr, the Nith, and the Cluden, will in future, like the Yarrow, the Tweed, and the Tay,
* The peasantry of Scotland do not resemble the same class of men in England, owing to a legal provision made by the Parliament of Scotland in 1646, whereby a school is established in every parish, for the express purpose of educating the poor. This statute was repealed on the accession of Charles the Second, in 1660, but was finally re-established by the Scottish Parliament, after the Revolution, in 1696. The consequence of this enactment is, that every one, even in the humblest condition of life, is able to read; and most persons are more or less skilled in writing and arithmetic. The moral effects are such, that it has been said, one quarter sessions for the town of Manchester bas sent more felons for transportation than all the judges of Scotland consign during a whole year. Why is not a similar enactment made for Ireland, where there is more ignorance and consequently more demoralization, than in any country of equal extent in Europe ?
+ Dr. Currie.
be considered as classic streams, and their borders will be trod with new and superior emotions."
It is to be lamented that, owing to the dialect in which his poems are for the most part written, they are not sufficiently intelligible to English readers. His popular songs have given him.much celebrity in his own country.
Unhappily the fame of his genius attracted around him the gay and social, and his fine powers were wasted in midnight orgies; till he ultimately fell a victim to intemperance, in the thirty-eighth year of his age;t furnishing one more melancholy instance of genius not advancing the moral welfare and dignity of its possessor, because he rejected the guidance of prudence, and forgot that it is religion alone that can make men truly great or happy. How often is genius like a comet, eccentric in its course, which, after astonishing the world by its splendour, suddenly expires and vanishes!
We think that if a selection could be made from his works, excluding what is offensive, and retaining beauties which all must appreciate, an acceptable service might be rendered to the British public. Who can withhold their admiration from passages like these?
“ Still o'er these scenes my mem'ry wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care ;
As streams their channels deeper wear.”
* The national air of “ Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,” is familiar to every one.
+ He died in 1796.