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those who come to see him and partake are "wise." A pretty maxim truly. If all men were to cease inviting their friends to a feast occasionally, we should become individualized; that kindly feeling which is brought about by the interchange of thought at these social re-unions would be unknown, and if callousness towards each other's welfare exists at the present time, it would be infinitely worse if that selfish and false maxim was carried out, "Fools make feasts and wise men eat them." What opinion Doctor Franklin had of his beau ideal of a "wise man" that would "feast with fools," is not for me to say; but sure I am no "wise man" would sit down to "feast" with a "fool." If he ever does, he is a "fool" with a circumbendibus-A KNAVE.

Again, "Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire;" and in justification of this maxim, read the Doctor's own reasoning on it. "These are not the necessaries of life, they can scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet only because they look pretty, how many want them." Now, ladies, sell your "silks, satins, and velvets;" gentlemen do the same; they are not "necessaries;" nay they are not "conveniences;" and when you have sold them, buy no more, in order that your "kitchen fire" may burn more brightly. If this be not what Franklin's countrymen call "bosh," I should like to know what is.

What is it that proves the advance of civilization-tends to the growth of commerce-stimulates the human intellect-gives employment to millions, causes emulation, and spurs to industry hundreds of thousands of the working classes? The very things that Franklin sets so light a value on, "Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets."

Quite true; we could do without the "silks, satins," &c., and return to the linsey woolsey of a past age; nay, we might, like the Indians of the present day, don a blanket and mocassins; but he who would recommend or support such a theory, should "don a lion's skin on his recreant limbs." What would become of the Spitalfields, Macclesfield, and Lyons' silk weavers, if Franklin's idea was carried out, that their labour is neither a "necessary" nor a "convenience?" What would become of the pattern makers, the card makers, for that beautiful machine the Jacquard loom? Nay, what would become of progress, the fine arts, and all that tends to please the eye and elevate the human intellect! They would be blotted out from amongst us, and retrogression would take the place of progression. I wish again to observe that there are many, very many, of Franklin's maxims excellent indeed. The few selected, in my humble opinion, have done much mischief, as many of them are not only untrue but positively injurious to the minds of all those who harbour them and all who come near them.

Contrast the selfish maxims of the Doctor with the touching, beautiful, and simple doctrines of the New Testament. We will glance at a few of the latter: "Love one another," "He that hath two coats let him give to him that hath none," "Love thy neighbour as thyself," "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you." These and many others of a similar kind from the same source, tended and tend to soften the heart, teach us to be kind to each other, and inculcate in the bosoms of all the God-like feeling of charity.

"Charity decent, modest, easy kind,

Softens the high and rears the abject mind;"

while, on the other hand, too many of Franklin's maxims tend to selfishness, and make us forget the feelings of others.

I hope none of the Doctor's numerous admirers will consider it high treason, because I have endeavoured to analyse and dispute that which has passed almost undisputed for a century.

Errors are errors from whatever source they come. It is possible and probable that my examination of these far-famed maxims may be considered absurd and fallacious, as I consider the great Dr. Franklin's




Long parting from the hearts we love
Will shadow o'er the brightest face;
And happy they who part, and prove
Affection changes not with place.

A sad farewell is warmly dear,
But something dearer may be found
To dwell on lips that are sincere,
And lurk in bosoms closely bound.

The pressing hand, the steadfast sigh,
Are both less earnest than the boon
Which, fervently, the last fond sigh

Begs in the hopeful words, " Write soon!"

"Write soon!" oh, sweet request of Truth!
How tenderly its accents come!

We heard it first in early youth,

When mothers watched us leaving home.

And still amid the trumpet-joys,

That weary us with pomp and show,

We turn from all the brassy noise

To hear this minore cadence flow.

We part, but carry on our way

Some loved-one's plaintive spirit-tune,

That, as we wander, seems to say,

"Áffection lives on Faith,-Write soon!"


On the 25th of January, 1759, in a clay-built cottage, raised by his father's own hands, on the banks of bonnie Doon, in the district of Kyle-thenceforth to further enhance the old boast of "Kyle for a man"-and in the county of Ayr, amidst a tempest which shattered the frail tenement that the parental hands had erected for the roof-tree of his wife and little ones, and sent the newly-born babe and its mother to seek the shelter of betterhoused neighbours, was born Scotland's great lyric poet, ROBert Burns, the centenary of whose birth has just been celebrated even in England "from Eddystone to Berwick bounds, from Lynn to Milford Bay," with a unanimous fervour that in its ovation to the poet's memory, leaves no room for doubt of its thorough sincerity. But how far the worshippers brought a reasonable knowledge to accompany a sudden ecstatic faith, at least this side the Border, may be questionable.

The biography of the poet is a familiar story, for it has been often and well told by his fellow countrymen-Lockhart, Allan Cunningham, Robert Chambers, Cromek especially; and the poet himself gives, in a letter to Dr. Moore, in 1787, an exceedingly graphic account of his earlier years and his family's struggles; in fact, with the exception of Dr. Johnson as photographed by the Scotch laird, James Boswell, we call to mind no single literary life which has been so completely laid open to us; and his diligent biographers had great help from the poet's own worthy brother Gilbert, a sensible, well-informed man, whose reminiscences, apart from their interesting subject, have a great charm from their freshness of feeling and vigorous perception. We will briefly recapitulate the main incidents. The father of the future bard, William Burness, as he spelt the name, was a fine type of the better-developed Scotch character, laborious, frugal, and pious; yet withal somewhat rigid and sombre, which was not to be wondered at, for the hard-striving man's life was soured by worldly unsuccess, and his nature tinctured by rigid Calvinism. The mother of Burns was in much a remarkable woman-at least sufficiently so to prove the commonly observed rule, that all celebrated men owe the seeds of future eminence to the individuality of their mothers. Frequently she cheered the hours of monotonous gloom in the poverty-pressed cot by chaunting old songs and ballads, of which she had a large store, and which, doubtless, lighted the flame smouldering in her young son's mind, to be further fed by an old dame who came to live with the simple family when the boy was ten years old, and who possessed the largest store of tales concerning fairies and ghosts, and witches and warlocks, and such eerie folk, to be found in that country side. Nobody can doubt who knows even little of the Scottish poet's biography, that he owed much to the superior education afforded to his class; and this explains, in a large measure, not only the mastery of numbers and powers of clear expression which Burns's correspondence amply demonstrates, but how prepared was such an educated public both for the production and appreciation of such a man by their superior culture and training. Much more than a common pedagogue was Murdoch to Robert Burns, and few men could have reaped greater advantages in so short a period even from the best of tutors. His instruction, as far as it went, was sound, and his reading, though necessarily discursive, was solid. In 1784 the good father died-Robert being 24 years of ageworn out with toil and sorrow, after living just long enough to learn that


his long-pending lawsuit with his landlord had terminated by plunging his poor wife and children in ruin. He left five children younger than Robert. Just before the father's death, when family affairs were at a crisis, Robert and his brother took a farm. "It was," says Gilbert, "a joint concern among us. Every member of the family was allowed ordinary wages for the labour he performed on the farm. My brother's allowance and mine was £7 per annum each, and during the whole time this concern lasted, which was four years, his expenses never exceeded his slender income." Before his 16th year he had, as he tells us himself, "first committed the sin of rhyme." His verses soon gained him considerable local fame, to which, as he made connexions in Ayr and other neighbouring towns with young men of his own age, he greatly added by the remarkable fluency and vigour of his conversational powers. These social gatherings soon introduced the eager spirit to new habits, and his attachment to female society, which had from early youth been very strong, was no longer confined within those bounds of strict virtue which had hitherto restrained him. About his 24th year he was furnished with the subject of his “Epistle to John Rankin,” or to state the bald fact, Robin had to do penance in church for the unlicensed daughter whom in his "Inventory" he styles his "sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess." Another affair of the kind determined the subsequent course of his life. This was his connexion with Jean Armour, afterwards Mrs. Burns, who brought the poet-father twins. In the difficulties and distress arising from their imprudence, it was agreed between them that they should make a legal acknowledgment of an irregular and private mar riage, and that he should then set out for Jamaica to push his fortune. "But before leaving my native country for ever," writes Burns to Mr. Moore, "I resolved to publish my poems. I weighed my productions as impartially as was in my power; I thought they had merit; and it was a delicious idea that I should be called a clever fellow, even though it should never reach my ears." In the autumn of 1786 an impression of 600 copies was struck off at Kilmarnock, which were well received by the public, and realised for their author the not inconsiderable sum of £20. This supply was seasonable; for the poet was thinking of indenting himself "for want of money to procure my passage. As soon as I was master of nine guineas, the price of wafting me to the torrid zone, I took a steerage passage in the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde, for hungry ruin had me in the wind.' I had been for some days skulking from covert to covert under all the terrors of a jail, as some ill-advised people had uncoupled the merciless pack of the law at my heels." This was to oblige him to find security for the maintenance of his children; for the parents of Jean Armour were so indignant that the father had burnt the informal "marriage lines," and would not allow the regular union to take place, nor the children to be legitimatised. He proceeds: "I had taken farewell of my few friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock; I had composed the last song I should ever measure in Caledonia, The gloomy night is gathering fast,' when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a friend of mine, overthrew all my schemes by opening new prospects to my poetic ambition. The doctor belonged to a set of critics for whose applause I had not dared to hope. His opinion that I would meet with encouragement in Edinburgh for a second edition fired me so much that away I posted for that city, without a single acquaintance or a single letter of introduction." The result was the cordial reception of the poet by all the aristocracy of rank, fashion, and intellect in the Scottish metropolis. Under the patronage of the Earl of Glencairn, Robertson, Dugald Stewart, Mackenzie, Lord Monboddo, the Duchess of Gordon, and other eminent and fashionable folk, a second edition of the poems was issued, for which he received fully fire hundred pounds. In the spring of

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1788, after having been fêted as lowly poet was scarce ever before, he returned to Ayrshire, where his brother Gilbert, who had undertaken the support of their aged mother, was struggling with many difficulties in the farm they had conjointly taken. Robert advanced £200, and with the remainder of his money stocked another farm, that of Ellisland, in Dumfriesshire. Here he took up his abode in June of the same year, having previously legalised his union with Jean Armour. Soon afterwards he was appointed, at his own solicitation, by the interest of Mr. Graham, of Fintry, an excise officer for the district in which he lived, with a salary of £50 a year, afterwards increased to £70. But after a holding of above three years the farm had to be resigned as unprofitable, and the poet took his family to live in a small house in the town of Dumfries, where he spent the sad remnant of his short life. Habits which he had acquired during his sudden dazzling blaze of popularity on his first introduction to public notice, now gained an entire ascendancy over him as misfortune and disappointment broke, or at least embittered, his spirit, and enfeebled his powers of resistance. Some imprudent expressions for a government servant, which he had dropped on the alarming subject of the French revolution, destroyed his chance of promotion, and nearly lost him the office altogether. He produced many pieces, and especially the best and greatest number of his songs after the appearance of the first Edinburgh issue of his poems, of which, in his lifetime, no less than five editions appeared. The songs were principally contributed to a publication called "Johnson's Museum," and afterwards to a work of much greater pretension, the wellknown "Collection of Original Scottish Airs," edited and published by Mr. George Thomson. The correspondence of Burns with his publisher and friend, forms a very interesting series of letters, as well as illustrating the life and harassments of their writer. On the 21st of July, 1796, at the early age of 37 years, died the erring, struggling, genial poet, in a small provincial town, almost dunned to death for a few pounds, and leaving four SOLS and a widow to a heritage of poverty. They gave him a public funeral, rendered truly imposing by the multitude of uninvited mourners, and 63 years afterwards the land echoes for a day from the Land's End to John o'Groat's, with the name and the fame of Robert Burns.

When, as simple English readers, we endeavour to estimate fully the genius of Burns and the influence of his poetry, we have not the faintest desire to loosen the affections of our northern cousins, the M'Tartans and Macplaids, for their national lyrist. We can enter somewhat into the exclusive homage they demand for their one prominent poet; and, fully appreciating their characteristic heartiness of assertion, enter our feeble strictures with a becoming timidity. We at once plunge into the arena of critical judgment by frankly stating our opinion that the English have rather overdone Burns, and by indulging in stilted heroics about the "ploughman bard" and the "self-formed genius," have somewhat weakened their well-intentioned homage by too much incense.

Of the poetry of Burns it is almost supererogation to characterise it as distinguished by simple, true, and earnest feeling, and by sentiments of the most generous and ennobling kind. His rhythm is eminently easy and flowing. In short, his songs are exquisitely beautiful, more especially to readers who, by early education and association, are familiar with their diction, imagery, and allusions. But for the majority of English readers, the works of Burns, if not quite a sealed book, must ever be as if "seeing in a glass darkly." The poet was decidedly national, not to say local; and most of his pieces are even more difficult to comprehend in their entirety by English readers, than the archaisms of Yorkshire, the dialect of Tim Bobbin, or even the Dorsetshire "hwomely" verse as recently set forth by Mr.


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