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unnatural that we must believe he knew to whom he was writing, and that an affectation of enthusiasm in platonic love and devotion was more likely to be acceptable to the fair Clarinda than the true language of feeling. The following loose and laboured passages show that the passion of Sylvander (a name sufficient of itself to damn a whole file of love letters) had more of vanity than of real sentiment:
What trifling silliness is the childish fondness of the everyday children of the world! 'Tis the unmeaning toying of the younglings of the fields and forests; but where sentiment and fancy unite their sweets; where taste and delicacy refine; where wit adds the flavour, and good sense gives strength and spirit to all, what a delicious draught is the hour of tender endearment!-beauty and grace in the arms of truth and honour, in all the luxury of mutual love!
The last part of the work comprehends a few original poems. We were rather surprised to find in the van the beautiful song called Evan Banks. Mr. Cromek ought to have known that this was published by Dr. Currie in his first edition of Burns's works, and omitted in all those which followed, because it was ascertained to be the composition of Helen Maria Williams, who wrote it at the request of Dr. Wood. Its being found in the handwriting of Burns occasioned the first mistake, but the correction of that leaves no apology for a second. The remainder consists of minor poems, epistles, prologues, and songs, by which, if the author's reputation had not been previously established, we will venture to say
it would never have risen above the common standard. At the same time, there are few of them that do not, upon minute examination, exhibit marks of Burns's hand, though not of his best manner. The following exquisitely affecting stanza contains the essence of a thousand love tales :
Had we never loved sae kindly,
There are one or two political songs, which for any
wit or humour they contain might have been very well
omitted. The satirical effusions of Burns, when they related to persons or subjects removed from his own sphere of observation, were too vague and too coarse to be poignant. We have seen, indeed, some very pointed stanzas in two political ballads, mentioned p. 174; but Mr. Cromek apparently judged them too personal for publication. There are a few attempts at English verse, in which, as usual, Burns falls beneath himself. This is the more remarkable, as the sublimer passages of his Saturday Night, Vision, and other poems of celebrity, always swell into the language of classic English poetry. But although in these flights he naturally and almost unavoidably assumed the dialect of Milton and Shakespeare, he never seems to have been completely at his ease when he had not the power of descending at pleasure into that which was familiar to his ear and to his habits. In the one case his use of the English was voluntary, and for a short time; but when assumed as a primary and indispensable rule of composition, the comparative penury of rhymes and the want of a thousand emphatic words which his habitual acquaintance with the Scottish supplied, rendered his expression confined and embarrassed. No man ever had more command of this ancient Doric dialect than Burns. He has left a curious testimony of his skill in a letter to Mr. Nicol, published in this volume, an attempt to read a sentence of which would break the teeth of most modern Scotchmen.
Three or four letters from William Burns, a brother of the poet, are introduced for no purpose that we can guess, unless to show that he wrote and thought like an ordinary journeyman saddler. We would readily have believed, without positive proof, that the splendid powers of the poet were not imparted to the rest of his family.
We scarcely know, upon the whole, in what terms we ought to dismiss Mr. Cromek. If the reputation of Burns alone be considered, this volume cannot add to his fame; and it is too well fixed to admit of degradation. The cantata already mentioned is, indeed, the only one of his productions not published by Dr. Currie, which we con
sider as not merely justifying, but increasing his renown. It is enough to say of the very best of those now published that they take nothing from it. What the public may gain by being furnished with additional means of estimating the character of this wonderful and self-taught genius we have already endeavoured to state. We know not whether the family of the poet will derive any advantage from this publication of his remains. If so, it is the best apology for their being given to the world; if not, we have no doubt that the editor, as he is an admirer of Chaucer, has read of a certain pardoner, who
With his relics, when that he fond
By JOSIAH WALKER.
Miscellaneous Remarks on the Writings of Burns, 1811.
WHEN we call Burns an original poet we give him a very high station in the scale of intellectual excellence, the greatness of the praise being proportioned to the smallness of the number with whom it is shared. In all ages, the genuine poet is a character of rare appearance. During the century which has recently expired, distinguished as it was by mental exertion, it may be doubted if more than five or six were justly entitled to this honourable appellation. The poets of inferior power were such as had been guided, by their admiration of others, to a species of composition which they would not of themselves have discovered. But the bard of nature would have been a poet though none had preceded him. Even before the invention of metrical language, his superior portion of fancy and feeling would probably have found a vent in discourse and given an interesting peculiarity to his character.
Persons of this description possess qualities of which it is difficult to give a complete enumeration, but of which a few may be specified. The discriminating vivacity of their perception, the exquisite delicacy of their intellectual tact, and the ease with which they trace every motion to its origin and object, produce effect which ordinary men more willingly ascribe to an additional faculty than to the superior excellence or improvement of powers which
are common to all. Hence, either from a natural facility with which certain operations of his mind are performed, or from habits of peculiar activity in recollecting and analysing his feelings, a man of sensibility perceives in every scene a multitude of little circumstances which, to a mind of grosser structure, are either unobserved or, if observed, uninteresting. In viewing a landscape, the latter is conscious of a pleasing result from the whole, and contents itself with this state of aggregate gratification; while the former draws an appropriate delight from every part, and can appreciate to himself and others the share of the general effect which belongs to each particular feature of the scene. But the power of observing and distinguishing the finer or the nobler lineaments of nature is not sufficient. This constitutes only taste, which numbers enjoy without being able to impart their impressions. For the last purpose, the aid of genius is required, which invents the means of communicating to others, by a warm and faithful transcript of its objects, the emotions which these objects had awakened in itself. The taste of a painter enables him to discern the great lines on which grace or sublimity depend; but it is by his genius that he traces them with such a truth of execution as to secure their effect. In like manner the poet is led, by a nice perception of the circumstances which had affected himself, to make choice of these, and of these alone, for conveying the affection to others; and the introduction of a circumstance included in no former enumeration is accompanied with that pleasure which it is the province of genius, by novelty of discovery, to create. Still, however, he may fail from imperfect execution if he do not possess a masterly command of language, which is his only medium of expression; but when he selects, from an exuberant store, words and phrases of the most significant power for conveying ideas, selected with equal felicity, he then approaches the consummation of imitative art. To genius of this character, the pretensions of Burns may be maintained from numberless passages of his writings. In what poet shall we find a more concise yet