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Tho' joints are stiff as ony rung ',
Out o'er the lugs 3,
That would ye spulzie",
Wi' little tulzie 6.
Wer't na for it the bonny lasses
That ast conveen
To catch our ein.
Could then discover,
Were worth a lover?
ODE TO THE GOWDSPINK 10.
the simmer's green.
For spraings 13 and bonny spats to thee ; stafi ? exhausted.
4 nimble. struggle. looking-glasses. 8 lose regard for. dirty. no Goldfincb.
13 different coloured stripes
Nae mair the rainbow can impart
wae's heart! we aften find
I marvels. ssbut.
3 cherished. 6 resort.
1. without strength. body.
Like Tantalus they hing you here
Ah, Liberty! thou bonny dame,
Thus Fortune ait a curse can gie,
I dare not.
2 lads. 1 bill.
• (fiend) not a fig.
10 box for meal
[ROBERT BURNS was born 25th January, 1759, 'the hindmost year bat ane" of George the Second's reign, in a cottage built by his father, two miles south of Ayr, and close to Alloway Kirk, that relic of nondescript architecture to which his genius has lent almost as worldwide an interest as that which makes Vaucluse a place of pilgrimage to all nations. Eldest son of William Burness, of a Kincardineshire family of small farmers, market gardener and overseer of a small estate in the neighbourhood of Ayr, and afterwards tenant of Lochlie and Mount Oliphant, small Ayrshire farms, Burns received an education which ultimately included a sound acquaintance with English grammar, a little mathematics, mensuration, French, and a smattering of Latin. At work on his father's farm from an early age till he was twenty-three, he tried then to establish himself in business as a flax-dresser in Irvine, but returned in a short time to his father's house with empty pockets and with a character hitherto blameless deteriorated by some new companionships. After the death of his father, a specimen of industry and integ ity never rewarded in this life, his brother Gilbert and he took the farm of Mossgiel near Mauchline (1784), which also turned out to be a bad bargain. To escape troubles in which his youthful and characteristic follies involved him, especially with the father of his future partner in lise, • Bonie Jean,' he accepted an appointment to a clerkship in Jamaica ; but on the point of starting on the voyage he had his footsteps turned towards Edinburgh by the success of his volume of poems (Kilmarnock, 1786), and by the patronage, literary and aristocratic, which it immediately secured for him. With the proceeds of a second edition of the volume (Edinburgh, 1787), amounting to £500 or £600, he established himself on the farm of Ellisland near Dumfries. Unsuccessful once more in this tenancy he became an exciseman to eke out his income, and finally in that capacity, unfortunately both for his health and for his reputation, removed to Dumfries, where he died in 1796.] That admiration of Burns' poetry as the work
a ploughman which Jeffrey in his time had occasion to deprecate, in which he could see no more sense than 'in admiring it as if it had been written with his toes,' has not survived Jeffrey's ridicule. Burns, like Joseph in Egypt, was destined to "forget his toil and his father's house.' His right to a place among the greater poets of Europe being no longer in dispute, to speak of him still as the Ayrshire bard' is almost as dull an affectation as to follow his own example and call him Rob or Robin. A great poet not only in the sense that his affinities are with the greatest of the great poets that were before him or have been since, rather than with the multitude of inferior writers who have struggled into fame in verse, but great also in the sense that he gave a new impulse and a new direction to poetry, helped to overturn in that splendid realın the dynasty of Pope, and to found that to which Wordsworth and Shelley and Byron belong, Burns is only once a peasant and clownish in the course of nearly a century during which his name has been illustrious. It is not in 1786, in the circles of rank and fashion in Edinburgh, in which he appears fresh from the ploughhere his courtliness astonishes Dugald Stewart and delights the Duchess of Gordon--it is now, when coming from Olympus, he is introduced to us as from Ayrshire. Though nothing could be more natural than his first appearance in the character of rustic bard, he has so long played a different part that his resumption of it is felt to border upon the grotesque and to be akin to fustian. The task which criticism has to perforni in regard to him is indicated in this transformation of the natural man into something of a histrionic figure. It is a task of difficulty under any conditions, and not to be attempted with success in a very limited space. It is to explain how the publication of a small volume of poems 'chiefly in the Scottish dialect,' the natural destiny of which would have seemed to be fulfilled in making the Ayrshire bard known in Ayrshire, or at the most in Scotland, should have turned out to be an occasion, in literature and in history, of worldwide significance.
This explanation, be it ever so partial, must include, and perhaps ought to begin with, the admission, fatal to his character as a prodigy, that the influences under which Burns was tutored into song were as eminently European in fact as they were singularly provincial in appearance. The Revolution, at any rate in action, had not returned from America to France, when his poems were published. But the intellectual activity and turmoil which led to the Revolution was a phenomenon to which he was no more of a stranger in his humble and straitened sphere of life, than to summer's heat or winter's cold, or the west wind or 'man's in humanity to man.' His father's cottage, in which, like the rest of the family (they were all readers), ke sat at meals with a book in one hand and a spoon in the other,' was, as far as intelligence of most kinds was concerned, in open communication with Europe