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Dr. Knox. Chatterton was, indeed, badly enough off; but he was at least saved from the pain and shame of reading this woful lamentation over fallen genius, which circulates splendidly bound in the fourteenth edition, while he is a prey to
As to those who are really capable of admiring Chatterton's genius, or of feeling an interest in his fate, I would only say, that I never heard any one speak of any one of his works as if it were an old well-known favourite, and had become a faith and a religion in his mind. It is his name, his youth, and what he might have lived to have done, that excite our wonder and admiration. He has the same sort of posthumous fame that an actor of the last age has-an abstracted reputation which is independent of any thing we know of his works. The admirers of Collins never think of him without recalling to their minds his Ode on Evening, or on the Poetical Character. Gray's Elegy, and his poetical popularity, are identified together, and inseparable even in imagination. It is the same with respect to Burns: when you speak of him as a poet, you mean his works, his Tam o' Shanter, or his Cotter's Saturday Night. But the enthusiasts for Chatterton, if you ask for the proofs of his extraordinary genius, are obliged to turn to the volume, and perhaps find there what they seek; but it is not in their minds; and it is of that I spoke.
The Minstrel's song in Ælla is I think the best.
4:07“O! synge untoe my roundelaie, my youn chiay,
Tier O! droppe the brynie teare wythe mee,bringbar witte wie,
Mie love ys dedde, is llist te he's Gonne to hys deathe-bedde, li dito sa atin, e Le Binder Al under the wyllowe-tree. In nechtze aritme Los riya:Black hys cryne as the wyntere nyght, aw the winter night,
*F* Whyte hys rode as the sommer snowe, aw the boum mérinou
Mie love ys dedde, i's devel
Al under the wyllowe tree. The new,
Mie love ys deede, i lenteve,
post"Harke! the ravenne flappes hys wynge,
In the briered dell belowe;
To the nyghte-mares as theie goe., manand as yogy 11. Mie love ys dedde, dance
1. Gone to hys deathe-bedde,..
Al under the wyllowe-tree.
See! the whyte moone sheenes onne hie;
ON BURNS, AND THE OLD BALLADS. 253
Whyterre yanne the mornynge skie, ..
Heere, upon mie true loves grave, my time frie's
i itit te
Al the celness of a mayde.
Mie love ys dedde, !')
Al under the wyllowe-tree. Chur! ith
Wythe mie hondes I'll dent the brieres Lazima liwe Rounde hys hallie corse to gre, desde
Ouphante fairies, lyghte your fyres,
Heere mie boddie stille schalle bee.
Mie love ys dedde, i ::
Çomme, wythe acorne-coppe and thorne,
Mie love ys dedde,
Water wytches, crownede wythe reytes,
I comme; mie true love waytes.
To proceed to the more immediate subject of the present Lecture, the character and writings of
Burns. --Shakspeare says of some one, that "he * was like a man made after supper of a cheese
paring.” Burns, the poet, was not such a man. He had a strong mind, and a strong body, the fellow to it. He had a real heart of flesh and blood beating in his bosom --you can almost hear it throb. Some one said, that if you
had shaken hands with him, his hand would have burnt yours. The Gods, indeed,
“ made him poetical ;" but nature had a hand in him first. His heart was in the right place. He did not "create a soul under the ribs of death,” by tinkling siren sounds, or by piling up centos of poetic diction; but for the artificial flowers of poetry, he plucked the mountain-daisy under his feet; and a fieldmouse, hurrying from its ruined dwelling, could inspire him with the sentiments of terror and pity. He held the plough or the pen with the same firm, manly grasp; nor did he cut out poetry as we cut out watch-papers, with finical dexterity, nor from the same flimsy materials. Burns was not like Shakspeare in the range of his genius; but there. is something of the same magnanimity, directness, and unaffected character about him. He was not a sickly sentimentalist, a namby-pamby poet, a mincing metre-ballad-monger, any more than :
Shakspeare. He would as soon hear“ a brazen candlestick tuned, or a dry wheel grate on the axletree.” He was as much of a man-not a twentieth part as much of a poet as Shakspeare. With but little of his imagination or inventive power,
he had the same life of mind : within the narrow circle of personal feeling or domestic incidents, the pulse of his poetry flows as healthily and vigorously. He had an eye to see; a heart to feel:--no more. His pictures of good fellowship, of social glee, of quaint humour, are equal to any thing; they come up to nature, and they cannot go beyond it. The sly jest collected in his laughing eye at the sight of the grotesque and ludicrous in mannersthe large tear rolled down his manly cheek at the sight of another's distress. He has made us as well acquainted with himself as it is possible to be; has let out the honest impulses of bis native disposition, the unequal conflict of the passions in his breast, with the same frankness and truth of description. His strength is not greater than his weakness: his virtues were greater than his vices. His virtues belonged to his genius: his vices to his situation, which did not correspond to his genius.
It has been usual to attack Burns's moral character, and the moral tendency of bis writings at the same time; and Mr. Wordsworth, in a letter