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That, especially the last two lines, is as natural as life. It takes a true poet to adorn a tail in that manner.
I commenced with a sorrowful verse about Burns; if I write on, I shall close with yet more sorrowful prose. When you visit the localities which will be forever associated with his name, you see plainer than ever the man, with all his gifts and failings, his sinnings and repentings, his high resolves and miserable defections, his greatness and his weakness. His faults were such as cannot be glossed over, any more than his genius can be denied — and he was so imprudent. Until within a comparatively recent period, his memory has been contemned by a large body of the clergy in Scotland, and by many religious people, not so much, I am fain to believe, because he got drunk, or because he was, as an old Scotch woman said to me in Edinburgh, “the father o' chance children,” as because he wrote slang about a lot of country clergymen and elders, who ought never to have been heard of outside of their own parishes; and yet compilers of his poems have continually stained his fame ever since by preserving this pot-house talk about the squabbles of a kirk session. Burns, like most of us, knew the right and yet pursued the wrong, and fearfully he atoned for it. The author of the finest religious poem I know, “The Cotter's Saturday Night;" the giver of the best piece of advice possible, the "Epistle to a Young Friend;" and the enunciator of the world's political creed in the golden days that are coming, in “A man's a man for a' that,” perished at the age of thirty-seven, a poor, broken, hopeless man.
I have an idea that, had Burns, with his talents not only for poetical but prose composition, his liberal opinions, his courage and his wit, been born in America, he would have found his way
into the field of journalism, where he would have filled a place like that occupied so many years by George D. Prentice, and that he would have lived to be an old and prosperous man. But had this been his career, he would have been forgotten at his death, for we remember nobody. But it is all done, and well done, now. The good he did lives after him; his errors have been forgiven, and his songs remain to be “the property and solace of mankind."
MEMORIES OF SCOTLAND.
T is in Scotland, I think, that Mr. Lemuel Gulliver might
have found his patriot, who, by causing two spears of grass to grow where one did before, confers more essential service on his country than the “whole race of politicians put together." Scotch thrift, triumphant over all sorts of obstacles in all parts of the world, has achieved its greatest triumph at home. The Scotchman drives a great bargain with Dame Nature herself, and forces her to give auld Scotia many things not laid down: in her original programme. The largest grapes I ever saw were not in France, the land of grapes, but in Scotland, the land of oats. They were raised under glass, of course, and it must be confessed that grapes
do not form the principal article of diet of poor people in Scotland; but the great thing is, that grapes should be made to grow in Scotland under any circumstances.
Forest-tree planting, which, in the United States, has scarcely got beyond the point of oral and newspaper discussion - what may be termed the wind-and-ink stage is an accomplished fact, an achieved success in Scotland. Hillsides, which at the beginning of the present century were as bare as the back of your hand, are now covered with beautiful belts of timber. The little trees that Sir Walter Scott tended when he went to live at Abbotsford, are now great trees, bright and ever green, like the planter's fame. A certain Duke of Queensberry cut down the woods of his estate of Drumlanrig, and was poetically cursed therefor by Burns, yet now no traces of the ravaging ax can be seen. The Duke and Burns are gone; but trees care nothing for us creatures of a day. Even the grass which we trample on creeps back when we are still, to give us kindly covering at last.
There is no natural reason why anything but thistles should grow in Scotland; for not only is the sky cold, and the soil as thin as a hypocrite's prayer, but the sea, which loves not vegetation, comes in everywhere in bays and friths, so that the salt wind blows where it lists; and yet those are fine fields one sees in Teviotdale. I saw few better in England.
Scotch scenery, however, has never, even in the Lowlands, the happy look that one sees in England. It seems as if there was a snow - bank somewhere that chilled the air betimes. The land. scape is always framed with high hills, on the tops of which the patches of heather lie like shadows. I should think that in the winter-time the fierce, hungry wind, pursuing the snow over the bare slopes, would make journeying over these hills a dreary, if not a dangerous, business. The shepherd, following his toilsome trade amid the drifting snows, is a common figure in Scotch poetry
The streams of Scotland are very different from the placid, rush-bordered, pond-like English streams. The Scotch river is a free, brown stream, that roars and rumbles and rushes along. Such is the Doon; such is the Tweed for many a mile; such is the Water of Fleet, the most charming of the minor streams
Scotch towns are far from pretty. They are built of stone, and look stiff and ugly and awkward, and the attempts at magnificence are not a success. They remind one of a lout in his Sunday clothes. I do not know why the word "rawboned" should be applied to a town, but it is the only word I can think of that conveys to my own mind the proper idea of a Scotch town. Melrose, Jedburgh, Kelso, Ayr, Dumfries, all looked alike to me. The same wide, cobble-paved streets; the same stiff stone houses and Presbyterian churches; and the same stiff-legged statue of some hard-headed Scotch soldier, who smote the heathen hip and thigh, in India and elsewhere. These old places are relieved sometimes by the presence of something much older, as at Kelso, where there are the ruins, huge and square, of a very fine old abbey, rising, ivy-covered, in the midst of the town; and at Kirkcudbright, where there is an old castle, which once belonged, I believe, to the McLellans.
To the ugliness of the towns there is one exception, certainly - Edinburgh, which town has not its like in the world.
I lived a week in Edinburgh, and walked every day with McCarty, a Cork man, whose acquaintance I formed during my first day in town. A jewel was McCarty - the best-natured, the wittiest, and by far the most learned of all the McCartys. He knew half-a-dozen modern languages. You should have heard him recite the “Bells of Shandon” in Italian, giving that somewhat effeminate language the advantage of a fine brogue, or “Go where Glory waits Thee,” in French. Irish history, poetry and romance he knew by heart. It was fine to hear him recite the remarks of Curran to Lord Avonmore, in Judge Johnson's case; and one day he got to talking about French history, and it was very affecting, indeed it was, to hear him describe his feelings on looking at the slipper of Marie Antoinette. “I thought,” said