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ble themes allied to them, sunk into litary life in which seasons of spiritthe depths of his heart, and images of stirring activity are followed by seathem reascended thence into living sons of contemplative repose, how and imperishable light.
many years passed over him rich in There is a pathetic moral in the impressions of sense and in dreams imperfect character of Burns, both as of fancy. His haunts were among a poet and a man; nor ought they scenes who delight both in him and his works, “ The most remote, and inaccessible and rightly hold the anniversary of By shepherds trod;" his birth to be a day sacred in the calendar of genius--to forget, that it And living for years in the solitude, was often the consciousness of his own he unconsciously formed friendships frailties that made him so true a paint caves-the hills—and
with all the more
with the springs the brooks the er of human passions that he often looked with melancholy eyes to that fileeting and faithless pageantry of the pure and serene life from which he sky, that to him came in the place of was, by his own imprudence, debarred those human affections from whose in-that innocence, purity, and virtue, dulgence he was debarred by the newere to him, in the happiest hours of cessities that kept him aloof from the his inspiration, the fair images of be cottage fire, and up among the mists on ings whose living presence he had too fore, is stored with images of nature
the mountain-top. His mind, thereoften shunned--and that the sanctie dear to him for the recollections which ties of religion itself seem still more sanctified,
when they rise before us in they bring—for the restoration of his the poetry of a man who was not al- earlier life. These images he has, at ways withheld from approaching with
all times, a delight in pouring outlevity, if not with irreverence, her very seldom, it is true, with much semost holy and mysterious altars.
lection, or skill in the poet's art—so that We should be afraid of turning from somewhat confused—but in them all
his pictures in landscape are generally so great a national poet as Burns, to a there are lines of light, or strokes of living genius, also born like him in darkness, that at once take the imagithe lower ranks of life, were we not assured that there is a freshness and nation, and convince us that before originality in the mind of the Ettrick
a poet's eye had travelled the sunshine Shepherd, well entitling him to take Burns and then one of the Ettrick
or the shadow. Open a volume of his place immediately after
Shepherd and we shall see how sela “ Him who walked in glory and in joy, dom the mind of the one was visited Following his plough upon the mountain by those images of external nature side.”
which in that of the other find a conThe truth is, that the respective stant and chosen dwelling-place. characters of their poetry are altogether Secondly, We shall find, that in his separate and distinct ;--and there can delineations of human passions, Burns be nothing more delightful than to drew from himself, or immediately see these two genuine children of Na- from the living beings that were ture following the voice of her in- "toiling and moiling” around him; spiration into such different haunts, and hence, their vivid truth and irreeach happy in his own native domi- sistible energy. But the Ettrick Shepnions, and powerful in his own legiti- herd is, clearly, a man rather of kind mate rule.
and gentle affections than of agitating And, in the first place, our admira- passions—and his poetry, therefore, ble Shepherd is full of that wild en- when it is a delineation of his own feelthusiasm towards external nature, ings, is remarkable for serenity and rewhich would seem to have formed so pose. When he goes out of himselfsmall a part of the poetical character and he does so much more than Burns-of Burns—and he has been led by he does not paint from living agents in that en usiasm to acquire a far wider the transport of their passions-from and far deeper knowledge of her in- the men who walk around him in this exhaustible wonders. He too passed our every-day world ; but he rather a youth of poverty and hardship-but loves to bring before him, as a shepit was the youth of a lonely shepherd herd still in his solitude, the far-off among the most beautiful pastoral images of human life, dim and shavallies in the world, and in that soa dowy as dreams and to lose himself VOL. IV.
in a world of his own creation, filled but a great poet-and nothing enwith all the visionary phantoms of tirely out of himself had power brightpoetical tradition.
ly to kindle his imagination, unless, Accordingly, in his poetry, we have indeed, it were some mighty national but few complete pictures of which triumph or calamity, events that apthe intensity of mere human passions pealed rather to his patriotism than or feelings constitutes the merit and his poetry. But the Shepherd dreams the charm-as in so many of the com- of the days of old, and of all their positions of Burns; and, therefore, he dim and wavering traditions. Objects never can become so popular a poet, dark in the past distance of time have nor does he deserve to be so. The over him a deeper power than the bright best poetry of Burns goes, sudden as presence of realities and his genius electricity, to the heart. Every nerve loves better to lift up the veil which in our frame is a conductor to the forgetfulness has been slowly drawing fluid. The best poetry of the Ettrick over the forms, the scenes, the actions, Shepherd rather steals into our souls and the characters of the dead, than like music; and, as many persons have to gaze on the motions of the living. no ear for music, so have many persons Accordingly, there are some images no soul for such kind of poetry. Burns some strains of feeling in his poetry, addressed himself almost exclusively more mournful and pathetic-at least, to the simplest and most elementary full of a sadness more entrancing to the feelings of our nature, as they are ex- imagination than any thing we rehibited in social and domestic life ;- collect in Burns—but, at the same he spoke of things familiar to all, in time, we are aware, that though a few language familiar to all--and hence his wild airs, from an Eolian harp, perpoetry is like "the casing air," breath- haps more profoundly affect the soul, ed and enjoyed by all. No man dares at the time when they are swelling, to be sceptical on the power of his than any other inusic--yet have they poetry, for passages could be recited not so permanent a dwelling-place in against him that would drown the un- the memory as the harmonious tunes believer's voice in a tumult of acclama- of some perfect instrument. tion. But we doubt if, from the whole But, thirdly, we have to remind range of the Ettrick Shepherd's writ- such of our readers as are well ace ings, one such triumphant and irresis- quainted with the poetry of the Ettible passage could be produced--one trick Shepherd, that to feel the full strain appealing, without possibility of power of his genius we must go with failure, to the universal' feelings of him men's hearts. But it is equally certain “ Beyond this visible diurnal sphere,” that many strains and those continued and walk through the shadowy world and sustained strains too-might be of the imagination. It is here, where produced from the writings of this ex- Burns was weakest, that he is most traordinary person, which in the hearts strong. The airy beings that to the and souls of all men of imagination impassioned soul of Burns seemed and fancy-of all men who under- cold-bloodless and unattractive stand the dim and shadowy associa- rise up in irresistible loveliness in tions of recollected feelings and who their own silent domains, before the can feel the charm of a poetical lan- dreamy fancy of the gentle-hearted guage, occasionally more delicate and Shepherd. The still green beauty of refined, than perhaps was ever before the pastoral hills and vales where he commanded by an uneducated mind— passed his youth, inspired him with would awaken emotions, if not so ever-brooding visions of fairy-landstrong, certainly finer and more ethe- till, as he lay musing in his lonely real than any that are inspired by the sheiling, the world of phantasy seemvery happiest compositions of the ed, in the clear depths of his imaginaBard of Coila.
tion, a lovelier reflection of that of naIndeed we should scarcely hesitate ture-like the hills and heavens more to say that the Ettrick Shepherd had softly shining in the water of his namore of pure fancy than Burns. When tive lake. Whenever he treats of the latter relinquished his strong fairy-land, his language insensibly begrasp of men's passions or suffered comes, as it were, soft, wild, and the vivid images of his own experience aerial—we could almost think that of life to fade away, he was any thing we heard the voice of one of the fairy
folk-still and serene images seem to there ; he ought, rather, to bring berise up with the wild music of the fore us shadowy beings moving across versification--and the poet deludes us, a shadowy distance, and rising up for the time, into an unquestioning from that world with whose objects he and satisfied belief in the existence of is so familiar, but of which ordinary
green realms of bliss” of minds know only enough to regard, which he himself seems to be a native with a delightful feeling of surprise minstrel.
and novelty, every indistinct and fairy In this department of pure poetry, image that is brought from its invisible the Ettrick Shepherd has, among his recesses.
There indeed seems to be a own countrymen at least, no compe- field spread out for him, that is altitor. He is the poet laureate of the most all his own. The pastoral valCourt of Faëry-and we have only to lies of the south of Scotland look to hope he will at least sing an annual him as their best-beloved poet ;-all song as the tenure by which he holds their mild and gentle superstitions his deserved honours.
have blended with his being ;-he is The few very general observations familiar too with all the historical trawhich we have now made on the ge- ditions that people them with the nius of this truly original Poet are in- " living dead," and surely, with all tended only as an introduction to our the inestimable advantages of his early criticisms on his works. It is not un- shepherd-life, and with a genius so common to hear intelligent persons admirably framed to receive and give very thoughtlessly and ignorantly say, out the breath of all its manifold inthat the Ettrick Shepherd no doubt spirations, he may yet make pastoral writes very good verses—but that Burns poetry something more wild and beauhas preoccupied the ground, and is tiful than it has ever been--and leave our only great poet of the people. We behind him a work in which the feelhave perhaps said enough to shew that ings and habits-the very heart and this is far from being the case that soul of a shepherd-life, are given to the genius of the two poets is as dif- us all breathed over and coloured by ferent as their life and that they the aerial tints of a fairy fancy. have, generally speaking, delighted in The love of poetry is never bigotted the delineation of very different ob- and exclusive, and we should be jects.
strongly inclined to suspect its sinceIf we have rightly distinguished rity, if it did not comprehend within and estimated the peculiar genius of the range of its enthusiasm many of the "author of the Queen's Wake,” the fine productions of the Ettrick we think that he may benefit by at- Shepherd. We believe that his countending to some conclusions which trymen are becoming every day more seemn to flow from our remarks. He and more alive to his manifold merits is certainly strongest in description of and would be indeed strange if nature-in the imitation of the an- they who hold annual or triennial cient ballad—and in that wild poetry festivals in commemoration of their which deals with imaginary beings. great dead poet should be cold to the He has not great knowledge of hu- claims of the gifted living. It cannot man nature-nor has he any profound but be deeply interesting to all lovers insight into its passions. Neither does of genius and more especially to all he possess much ingenuity in the con- proud lovers of the genius of their own trivance of incidents, or much plastic Scotland, to see this true poet assistpower in the formation of a story ing at the honours paid to the memory emblematic of any portion of human of his illustrious predecessor. He life. He ought, therefore, in our opi- must ever be, on such high occasions, a nion, not to attempt any long poem conspicuous and honoured guest; and in which a variety of characters are to we all know, that it is impossible better be displayed acting on the theatre of to prove our admiration and love of the the world, and of which the essential character and genius of Burns, than by merit must lie in the exhibition of the generous exhibition of similar sena those passions that play their parts timents towards the Ettrick Shepherd.
THE EXMOOR COURTSHIP,
From the best Editions, illustrated and compared, with Notes, critical, historical,
philosophical and classical ;
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
A PARAPHRASE IN MODERN ENGLISH VERSE.
[The Exmoor Courtship is a dramatic pastoral, well known in the west of England, and, in all probability, as ancient as the time of Henry VII. Warton is of opinion that the "origin of the Bucolic might be discovered in the ancient Greek comedy, while the latter was in its most rude and unpolished state.” The same may be affirmed of our own pastoral poetry. This union in our rude drama is apparent in Gammer Gurton's Needle, which was probably written towards the conclusion of Queen Mary's reign ; at least, we know that it was exhibited at Oxford, in the year 1661, the third of Queen Elizabeth. It is chiefly composed, like the “ Exmoor Courtship,” in the west country dialect, which may be styled the English Doric. The characters are almost entirely pastoral, and Hodge, the hero of the drama, is most decidedly a genuine bucolic
. In the succeeding reign of Queen Elizabeth, or rather towards its conclusion, this union no longer existed ; and the Pastorals ot' Spencer, though they exhibit more of character than modern poems of that kind, are totally distinct from the dramas in her days.
This singular composition is invaluable to those whose intimate acquaintance with the provincial dialect in which it is written, renders its meaning easy and familiar. But to most readers of poetry it must be as a sealed fountain ; and it it therefore hoped that the accompanying translation will enable them to penetrate and enjoy the spirit of the original. The Translator has converted the Moor-drivers and milk-maids of the forest into such nymphs and swains as whilom “roamed over Lyæus and Cyllene hoar," and dweli beside the banks of the “ Lilied Ladon.” For, so capricious is modern taste, the same person will look with disgust on the representation of a Margery or Thomasin carrying a pitcher of water on her head from the Mole or the Linn, and with delight on a Galatea, or a Dione, or any of those pastoral nymphs who, in days of old,
“ Were wont to bring
The weight of water from Hyperia's spring." This literary metamorphosis was, however, undertaken chiefly with a view to entertain the classical reader, who will doubtless be no less pleased than surprised at perceiving the great similarity between the inhabitants of the Moor and the Grecian shepherds, as depicted by Theocritus ; and he trusts the conjecture will be readily admitted, that our bard considered him as his model, and copied his beauties in the same manner as Rowley did those of Homer, as appeared to general satisfaction from the parallel passages adduced by some learned and dignified critics to ascertain that
extraordinary circumstance. The language of our bard corresponds with the Doric dialect, in which the Idyllia of Theocritus were principally written; and which, as his translator justly observes," was, of all others, best adapted to the subject, the characters, and simplicity of sentiment.” “It possesses an inimitable charm that can never be transfused into the most happy translation ; it has a modulated sweetness which melts upon the ear, at the same time that its wildness and rusticity often characterize the personages who use it.” TRANSLATOR.]
TIE EXMOOR COURTSHIP.
THE ARCADIAN LOVERS,
A Dramatic Pastoral.
ATHENAIS, Sister to Pastora.
Scene-A Vestibule before an elegant Cot. Scene--Margery's Home.
tage, with a picturesque View of the Coun
try on each side. To Margery, enter Andrew.
Pastora coming from the Vestibule is met
by Celadon. An. How goeth it, cozen Margery ? Cel. How fares the lovely maid, Arca
To Celadon by kindred ties allied ? Mar. Hah! cozen Andra, how d'ye try?
Pas. My gentle kinsman, hail ! An. Come, let's shake hands, thof kiss- Cel.
In friendship's sign ing be scarce.
Will fair Pastora join her hand to mine,
Its sweeter symbol, lip to lip's denied ? Mar. Kissing's plenty enow: bet chud Pas. Ah, Celadon too oft the guileless zo leefe kiss the back o ma hond es e'er a maid man in Chattacomb, or yeet in Paracomb; To such unseemly weakness is betray'd. not dispreze.
But be it never mine in that respect
In pride I speak not, I'd those lips confine. An. Es dont believe thate, yect es believe Ĉel. Fond as I am, and easy to believe, vell too.
Not thus Pastora can her swain deceive.
(Salutes her. Mar. Hemph! oh, thaf vary vengeance Pas. Forbear, rude swain ! ill fortune
“ it was
• This has been a symbol of love and friendship from the earliest ages. Thus, a deserted maiden, in Ovid's epistles, exclaims,
“ Heus ubi pacta fides commissaque dextera dextrâ." And thus Æneas receives his companions.
" Amicum Ilionea petit dextrâ lævaque Segestum." Achilles, as a mark of friendship, takes the Greek envoys by the right hand. + This word, differently accented, was in use in Queen Elizabeth's time,
A handsome pretty-custom'd brandy-shop
As any was in Venice, none dispraized.' Volpone, 4. 5. i.e. No offence intended to the others by an implied degradation. The amiable trait of character in the no dispreze is but faintly imitated in the translation. It denotes, that at the same time in which she would be understood as holding the least approach towards indelicacy in abhorrence, which causes her warmth of expression, she would be extremely sorry if it was understood to proceed from any personal dislike to the swains of Paracomb or Chattacomb. She detracts not from their merits, nor wishes to degrade their characters by elevating her own. Her real aversion to improper liberties is again strongly marked in her following speech, as well as her secret attachment to Andrew, which makes her so soon forget her cause for resentment against him. A striking proof of our bard's intimate acquaintance with the human heart. And it is observable, that the endearments of An. drew are less and less strenuously resisted as the drama proceeds.
# A passage similar to this, and the conclusion of Margery's former speech, occurs in the opening of the xx. Idyllium :