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forth from thence, accompanied with communicating the small remains of a pure and enlightened religion, to ancient knowledge which still remaininstruct and purify the nation. A ed in their possession. considerable'number of the Greek ec The Greeks are extending their atclesiastics, far from opposing the in- tention to their modern language as struction of the nation, are only occu- well as to their ancient. This idiom, pied with the desire of instructing sprung from that used by the great themselves. Germany possesses, at writers of antiquity, in the same manthis moment, a great number occu ner as the French and Italian are pied perpetually in translating excel- from the Latin, possesses over these lent works into Greek. These re- last the advantage of being rather less spectable ecclesiastics have well per different from its original than they ceived that the true piety is enlight- are from theirs. Notwithstanding, ened piety, and that true intelligence, however, of this circumstance, the far from being the enemy of religion, modern Greek is a new language, only prepares for her a better recep- may be considered at this moment in tion in the hearts of men. They have somewhat the same stage of progress felt, that the gratitude of a nation for in which the French language was at services such as they are actually con- the time of Montaigne. The men of ferring, is a very different thing from education, who heretofore entirely nethe blind incense which of old was la- glected and despised this dialect, have vished upon them by its superstition. of late been obliged to employ it in We are the more delighted with an order to introduce foreign books to opportunity of doing justice to the the acquaintance of the people, and in Greek clergy, because in general they doing so they have necessarily been lie under the reproach of having most led to study its nature with more acof all contributed to the degradation curacy—to examine both what it does of this people. No—that reproach possess, and what improvements it is falls no longer with justice on any capable of receiving. Already this thing but a very small portion of the language, likeeverything else in Greece, clergy, whose leaden weight will not, is in a state of revolution. Cultivated we hope, continue long to oppress ei- as it is by so many pens at the same ther the sanctuary to which they never moment, it is not easy to foresee where did honour, or the nation which is it will stop, or what its fixed and charnow too wise to honour them,
acteristic nature will be. If one may In short, such is the progress of the judge from its infancy, it affords the moral revolution of Greece, that the promise of uniting more good qualities Greeks can no longer retrograde: they than are easily to be found together must go on. We may say more than elsewhere. As among the books transeyen this; there exists at this moment lated into it, a large proportion are in Greece such a number of educated connected with the exact sciences, it men, that were it possible for western may be presumed that one of these Europe to fall once again into dark- good qualities will be clearness. It ness, Greece might once again have still preserves many of the turns and the privilege and the honour of restor- inversions of the ancient language; ing her to light. A single glance at but these, it is to be hoped, instead the catalogues of the books translated of banishing as obstacles of perspi-within these few years into modern cuity, they will endeavour as much Greek, is sufficient to convince the as possible to reconcile and combine impartial observer, that the literary with that first of all qualities. In men of Greece, at the present time, short, we would hope, that from this are much more numerous, and much combination of elements, there may remore enlightened, than those which sult a language wherein the flowers of she produced in the fifteenth century imagination shall only serve as a grace those ever-memorable men, who, ful ornament to the mature fruits of flying from a country prepared by native despots for a foreign yoke, took Such is the present state of civiliza. refuge in the west of Europe, and re- tion in Greece. paid the asylum afforded to them, by
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE POETRY OF THE AGRICULTURAL AND THAT
OF THE PASTORAL DISTRICTS OF SCOTLAND, ILLUSTRATED BY A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE GENIUS OF BURNS AND THE ETTRICK SHEPHERD.
SCOTLAND 'has better reason to be of life are, in a great measure, either proud of her peasant poets than any moulded or coloured by Religion. other country in the world. She pos All enlightened foreigners have been sesses a rich treasure of poetry, ex- impressed with a sense of the gran pressing the moral character of her deur of such a national character, but population at very remote times; and they have failed in attributing it to in her national lyrics alone, so full of the right cause. The blessings of Etenderness and truth, the heart of a ducation have indeed been widely difsimple, and wise, and thoughtful peo fused over Scotland, and her Parishple is embalmed to us in imperish Schools have conferred upon her inesable beauty. If we knew nothing of timable benefits. But there is such the forefathers of our Scottish ham
simplicity and depth of moral feeling lets, but the pure and affectionate and affection in her peasantry,--such songs and ballads, the wild and pa- power over the more agitating and tuthetic airs of music whịch they loved, multuous passions, which, without we should know enough to convince weakening their lawful energies, conus that they were a race of men strong, trols and subdues their rebellious exhealthful, happy, and dignified in the citement,-there is an imagination so genial spirit of nature. The lower or- purely and loftily exercised over the ders of the Scotch seem always to have objects of their human love,—that we had deeper, calmer, purer, and more must look for the origin of such a reflecting affeetions than those of any character to a far higher source than other people,--and at the same time the mere culture of the mind by means they have possessed, and do still pos- of a rational and widely-extended sys. sess, an imagination that broods over tem of Education. It is the habitual these affections with a constant de- faith of the peasantry of this happy light, and kindles them into a strength and beautiful land, " that has made and power, which, when brought into them whole.” The undecaying sancaction by domestic or national trouble, tities of religion have, like unseen have often been in good truth sub- household gods, kept watch by their Jime.
hearth-sides from generation to geneWhatever may have been the causes ration; and their belief in the Bible of this fine character in more remote is connected with all that is holiest times, it seems certain, that, since the and dearest in filial and parental love. Reformation, it is to be attributed A common piece of wood, the meanchiefly to the spirit of their Religion. est article of household furniture, is That spirit is pervading and profound: prized, when it is a relic of one țenit blends intimately with all the rela- derly beloved ; but the peasant of tions of life,_and gives a quiet and Scotland has a relic of departed affecsettled permanency to feelings, which, tion, that lifts his nature up to hea. among a population uninspired by an ven, when he takes into his reverenhabitual reverence for high and holy tial hands, things, are little better than the un
" THE BIG HA’ BIBLE, ANCE HIS FAcertain, fluctuating, and transitory im
THER'S PRIDE." pulses of temperament.
It is thus that there is something sacred and None who have enjoyed the happisublime in the tranquillity of a Scot ness and the benefit of an intimate tish cottage. The Sabbath-day seems knowledge of the peasantry of Scotto extend its influence over all the land will think this picture of their week. The Bible lies from week's character overdrawn or exaggerated. end to week's end visible before the We are not speaking of ideal beingseyes of all the inmates of the house; but of men marked, even in their the language of Scripture is so fami- best state, with many defects, frailliar to the minds of the peasantry, ties, errors, and vices. But that the that it is often adopted unconsciously Scotch are a devout people, one day in the conversation of common hours; wisely passed in Scotland would car, in short, all the forms, modes, shews ry conviction to a stranger's heart;
and when it is considered how many thoughts but those of despondency noble and elevating feelings are in- and despair ? A religious people tread cluded within the virtue of devo- constantly as it were on consecrated TiON,-unfearing faith, submissive ground. It cannot be said, that there reverence, calm content, and unshaken is any death among them; for we love,-we acknowledge, that a people cannot forget those whom we know we who, emphatically speaking, fear God, shall meet in heaven. But unless a must possess within themselves the people carry on their hopes and affecelements of all human virtue, happi- tions into an eternal future, there must ness, and wisdom,-however much be a deplorable oblivion of objects of these may be occasionally weakened or affection vanished, still-increasing polluted by the mournful necessities
« dearth of life,- grief, ignorance, hard labour, Of love upen hopeless earth." penury, and disease.
It is the heart of the people, not Religion, then, has made the Scots merely their external character, of tish people thoughtful and meditative which we speak, though that too is in their intellects-simple and pure in beyond all comparison the most inte- their morals—tender and affectionate resting and impressive of any nation in their hearts. But when there is in the world. It would require a long profound thought and awakened senline of thought to fathom the depth of sibility, imagination will not fail to a gray-haired Scottish peasant's heart, reign; and if this be indeed the genewho may have buried in the church- ral character of a whole people, and yard of his native village the partner should they moreover be blessed with of a long life, and the children she a beautiful country, and a free gohad brought to bless it. Time wears vernment, then those higher and not out from his heart any impression purer feelings which, in less happy that love has once graven there ; it lands, are possessed only by the would seem, that the strength of af- higher ranks of society, are brought fections relying on heaven when earth into free play over all the bosom of has lost all it valued, preserved old society; and it may, without vioage from dotage and decay. If reli- lence, be said, that a spirit of poetry gion is most beautiful and lovely in breathes over all its valleys. the young, the happy, and the innocent, Of England, and of the character of we must yet look for the consummation her population, high and low, we of its sublimity in the old, the re think with exultation and with pride. pentant, and the resigned, and both Some virtues they perhaps possess in may be seen
greater perfection than any other “ In some small kirk upon its sunny brae,
people. But we believe, that the most When Scotland lies asleep on the still that there is a depth of moral and re
philosophical Englishmen acknowledge Sabbath-day."
ligious feeling in the peasantry of The Scottish peasantry are poetical, Scotland, not to be found among the therefore, because they are religious. best part of their own population. A heart that habitually cherishes reli- There cannot be said to be any poetry gious feelings, cannot abide the thought of the peasantry of England. We do of pure affections and pure delights not feel any consciousness of national passing utterly away. It would fain prejudice, when we say, that a great give a permanent existence to the fleet- poet could not be born among the ing shadows of earthly happiness. Its English peasantry-bred among them dreams are of heaven and eternity, and -and restricted in his poetry to subsuch dreams reflect back a hallowed jects belonging to themselves and their light on earth and on time. We are life. ourselves willing, when our hour is There doubtless are among the peacome, to perish from the earth; but santry of every truly noble nation, we wish our thoughts and feelings to much to kindle the imagination and live behind us; and we cannot endure the fancy ; but we believe, that in no the imagined sadness and silence of country but Scotland does there exist their extinction. Had a people no a system of social and domestic life strong hope of the future, how could among that order of men, which comthey deeply care for the past? or ra- bines within it almost all the tiner and ther, how could the past awaken any higher emotions of cultivated minds,
with a simplicity and artlessness of cha Fourthly, the constantand close interracter peculiar to persons of low estate. course between the inhabitants, arising Thefireside of an English cottager is of- from the density of population, gives to ten a scene of happiness and virtue; but the people a tone of thought alien from unquestionably, in reading the “Cot- all enthusiasm, and consequently from tar's Saturday Night” of Burns, we all superstition. Any superstitious forms feel, that we are reading the records that may rise up among them will be of a purer, simpler, more pious race; but slight modifications of feelings exand there is in that immortal poem a cited by the objects of reality, and will depth of domestic joy an intensity of possess but a feeble power among the the feeling of home--a presiding spi- depressing and deadening influences rit of love and a lofty enthusiasm of of a life on the whole so unimaginareligion, which are all peculiarly Scot- tive. tish, and beyond the pitch of mind of And, lastly, it may be asserted, that any other people.
if such be the character of an agriIt is not our intention at present, to cultural life, the religion of the people pursue this interesting subject into its will rather be of a sedate and rational inmost recesses ; we may have said kind, than characterized by that ferenough to awaken the meditations of vour, and even passion, without which our readers on the poetical character it is apt to degenerate into a cauof our peasantry. Yet, it may not be tionary system of morality, instead of amiss to say a few words on the dif- being a kindling, supporting, and eleference of poetical feeling and genius vating faith.. in an agricultural and pastoral state of On the whole, therefore, it would life,-exemplified as that difference seem that it is not to an agricultural appears to be in the poetry of Burns, country that we are to look for a and his only worthy successor, the poetical character in its inhabitants, Ettrick Shepherd.
or for the appearance among them of, And, in the first place, it is unde a great and prevailing poet. niable, that in an agricultural country, In a pastoral state of society, the the life of a peasant is a life of severe scene assumes a very different aspect. and incessant labour, leaving him ap- For, in the first place, shepherds and parently few opportunities for the cul- men, connected with a pastoral life, tivation and enjoyment either of his are not bowed down." by bodily moral or intellectual nature. Each labour constant and severe,"--and hour has its task,--and when the body both the thoughts and the affections is enslaved, with difficulty may the have time for indulgence. They have soul be free.
also a more intimate acquaintance with · In the second place, the knowledge the great and simple forms of nature, which men thus situated are likely to and with them are necessarily associawish to attain, is of a narrow and ted many of their best daily emotions, worldly kind, immediately connected They hold converse with nature, and with the means of subsistence, and not become even in the painful proseculinked with objects fitted to awaken tion of their necessary labours, unmuch enthusiastic or imaginative feel- consciously familiar with her lanings. The' knowledge absolutely es- guage. Their own language then be sential to a cottar in an agricultural comes poetical, and doubtless incountry is small indeed, and small ac. fuences their characters. Their afcordingly it will be found to be in al- fections become spiritualized along most all cases. Sobriety and prudence with their imagination, and there are his chief virtues; but his duties is a fine and delicate breath and shaand his cares make no demand on qua- dow of superstition over all the chalities or feelings of a higher kind. racter of their best emotions. Their
Thirdly, 'the face of an agricultural very religion partakes somewhat of country cannot be very kindling to the wildness of superstitious fear : the senses or imagination. It is all the lonely edifice built for the service subordinated to separate and distinct of God in the mountain solitude is uses; one great end, namely, produce surrounded by spots haunted by the tion, is constantly obtruded on the beings of a fairy creed. mind among all the shews of scenery, It is certain that it has been in the and that alone must be fatal to all play pastoral vallies of the south of Scotof imagination.
land that the poetical genius of our
country has been most beautifully dis- dinary spirits to the earth, elevated played; and though the peculiar and sublimed the genius and charachistory of those districts, as well as ter of our immortal poet. It was the circumstances under which their thus that nothing seemed worthy to language grew, were especially favoura- engross his attention, but the feelings ble to the formation and display of and the passions of the heart of man. poetical feeling, yet we are not to Hefelt within him visitings of thoughts look to such narrow and limited that wafted him into Elysium,
he causes as these for the acknowledged su- recognised in those thoughts the aw, periority of the genius of the shepherds ful power of human passion--and of the south, but rather, as we con saw that, circumscribed as the sphere ceive, to such as have been hinted at was in which he, a poor peasant, was above, and are necessarily, in a great placed, he might yet walk in it with degree, common to all pastoral states power and glory,--and that he might of society, in all times and in all coun- waken up into strength, freshness, and tries.'
beauty, those feelings of his lowly breWhen we consider the genius of thren that destiny had enfeebled and Burns, we see it manifestly moulded obscured, and give them an existence and coloured by his agricultural life. in poetry, essentially true to huinan We see in all his earliest poems—and life, but tinged with that adorning they are by far his finest-a noble radiance, which emanates only from soul struggling-labouring with a hard the poet's soul in the hour of his inand oppressive fate. He was, from spiration. very boy-hood, a toil-worn cottar,”
It is here that we must seek for the and it was the aim of his noble true cause of Burns' very limited powheart to preserve that dignity which er of description of external Nature. nature gave it, unshaken and unhum- Certainly, of all poets of the first order, bled by the weary weight” of his he is the one that has left us the few lot. His genius was winged by in- est fine pictures of landscape. His dependence--and in the proud dis senses were gratified with the forms, dain with which he spurned at the the blooms, and the odours of nature, fortune that in vain strove to enslave and often in the fulness of his convivial him, it seemed as if his soul rose to a delight, he pours out vivid expressions nobler pitch of enthusiasm, and that of that rapture and enjoyment. Butexhe more passionately enjoyed his free- ternal nature seems never to have elevadom when feeling circled, not bound ted his imagination, or for any length of by unavailing chains.
time to have won him from the domiThe hardships and privations that nion of the living world. Where his Burns early felt himself born to en- eye reposed, or his ear listened, there too dure, the constant presence before his soul was satisfied. When he has him of the image of poverty—the con- attempted to generalize, to delineate viction of the necessary evils of the associations by which nature is conpoor man's lot—made his whole heart nected with the universal feelings of to leap within him when joy, and our kind, he sinks to the level of an pleasure, and happiness, opened their ordinary versifier. All that vivid and arms to receive him. Bliss bursts up, burning vigour, with which he deon him like a rush of waters and his scribes his own feelings and passions as soul is at once swept down the flood. a human being in union with human Every one must have felt that there beings, is gone at once ; and we witness is a melancholy air spread over his the unavailing labour of a mind enpoetrymas if his creed truly were deavouring to describe what it but im
was made to mourn;" perfectly understands, and but feebly but sudden flashings and illumina- enjoys. There is scarcely a line in tions of delight are for ever breaking his poems written in, or of the Highout;-and in the vehemence, and lands, that would startle us with sur. energy, and triumphant exultation of prise in the verses of the merest poeta his language in those moments of in- aster. His mind had never delivered spiration, we feel how dear a thing itself up to such trains of thought. In free and unmingled happiness is to his evening walks, after a day of toil, the children of poverty and sorrow. the murmur of the stream, the whisper.
It was thus that the calamities of a ing of the breeze, or the song of the life of hardship, that bows down or- blackbird, touched his heart with joy,
is that man