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reuerable Abbey.“ In the church-yard (says Dr. Adair) two broad flag-stoncs marked the grave of Robert Bruce, for whose memory Burus had more than common veneration. He knelt and kissed the stone with sacred fervour, and heartily execrated the worse than Gothic neglect of this first of Scotish heroes."
These journeys, however, so far from satisfying our Bard's curiosity, served only to redouble it. Accordingly, about the end of August, 1787, he again set off in a post-chajse from Edinburgh, on a more extensive tour to the Highlands, in com. pany with Mr. William Nicol, one of the masters of the Edin. burgh Grammar School. This geutleman, who was indebted to his parents for little more than existence, had raised himself, by his own abilities and perseverance, to the highest pitch of classical eminence.
Mr. Nicol and our poet having in the course of this journey visited the most remarkable parts of the Highlauds as far north as Inverness, they returned along the shore of the German Ocean to Edinburgh, where Buros spent the following winter amid the gay and festive society of the metropolis.
Towards the end of this year, he was seized with a severe attack of the rheumatism, which confined him upwards of six weeks to bis room. His spirits became so low, that he was unable to read, write, or think. He therefore resolved to leave Edinburgh, as soon as the state of his health would permit.
Having settled accounts with his publisher, in February, 1788, Burns became master of nearly 500l. With this sum he returned to Ayrshire, where be found his brother Gilbert struggling to support their aged mother, a younger broiber, and three sisters, in the farm of Mossgeil. He immediately advanced 2001. to their relief. With the remainder, and what further profit might accrue to him from his poems, Burus seriously resolved to settle for lise, and resume the occupation of agriculture.
Mr. Miller, of Dalswinton, offered him the choice of a farm on liis estate at his owo terms. Burns readily accepted this generous offer, and fixed on the farm of Ellisland, about six miles abore Dumfries, on the banks of the Nith. Previously to this period, however, he had been recommended to the Board of Excise, by Mr. Graham, of Fintry, and had bis name enrolled among the list of candidates for the humble office of an excise.
It has already been observed, that the heart of Burn was always replete with honour and sensibility. Often would the forlorn coodition of liis • Jovely Jean' obtrude on bis mind, amid the gagest scenes of mirth and festivity, and embitter all his enjoyments. No sooner had he arranged the play of his future parsuits, than bis whole thoughts were bent towards the object who had ever been nearest and dearest to his heart. They were immediately married, and thus their union made permanent for life.
By this laudable step, he not only restored that long-lost tran. quillity to the bosom of her he adored, but aavihilated those cor. roding reflections which bad often embittered his peace even amid the gayest scenes of mirth and festivity. He had now found a comfortable residence for his family, which he hoped would prove an asylum for his old age. As a poet, his fame had reached the most distant coruers of the earth. He had enlarged his happiness by relieving the wants of his aged mother, his bro. thers, aud sisters. He had seen the feeling vanities of life, and resolved to bestow his whole future attention in promoting the welfare of his family.
At Ellisland, Burns spent several happy months, amidst the polite attention aud esteem of a genteel neighbourhood. Their social parties, however, too often seduced him from his rustic labours, overthrew the unsteady fabric of his resolutions, aud ins flamed those propensities which temperance might have weaken. ed, and prudence ultimately suppressed. It was not loog, therefore, before Buras began to view his farm with disgust.Unfortunately, too, he at length received his appointment as an exciseman. The duties of this situation, besides exposing him to pumberless temptations, occupied that part of his time which ought to have beeu bestowed in cultivating his farm; which, after this, was in a great measure abandoned to servants. It is easy to conjecture the consequences. Notwithstanding the moderation of the rent, and the prudent management of Mrs. Burns, he fouud it necessary to resign his farm into the hands of Mr. Miller. The stock and crop being afterwards sold by public auction, he removed, with his family, to a small house iu Dumfries, about the end of the year 1791.
He resided four year at Dumfries. During this time, he had hoped for promotion in the excise; but the eagerness in politics to which bis warm feelings betrayed bim, defeated those hopes.
The extraordinary events which ushered in the revolution of France were beneld with delight and astonishment by men in every corner of Europe. Buros' generous soul embraced with ardour those hopes of happiness woich seemerl to dawn upor mankind. Uuder these impressions, he did not always conduct himself with the circumspection and prudence which his depeu dent situation seemed to demand. Information of this was given to the Board of Excise, with the exaggerations so general in such cases. A superior officer in that department was authorized to eoquire into his conduct. Burns defended bimself iu a letter addressed to one of the Board, written with great independence of spirit, and with more than his accustomed eloquence. The officer appointed to enquire into his conduct gave a favourable report. His steady frieod, Mr. Graham, of Fintry, interposed his good offices in his behalf, and he was suffered to retain his situation, but was given to understavd that his promotion was deferred, and must depend upon his future behaviour.
This circumstance made a deep impression on the miud of Buros. Fame exaggerated his misconduct, and represevtea him as actually dismissed from his office. And this report induced a gentleman of much respectability to propose a subscription in bis favour. The offer was refused by our poet in a letter of great elevation of sentiments, in which he gives an account of the whole of this transaction, and defends himself from the imputations of disloyal sentiments on the one hand, and on the ocher from the charge of having made submission, for the sake of office, unworthy of his character.
" The partiality of my countrymen," he observes," has brought me forward as a map of genius, and has given me a character to support. In the poet I have avowed manly and independent sentiments, which I hope have been found in the man. Reasons of no less weight thay the support of a wife and childreu have pointed out my present occupation as the only eligible line of life within my reach. Still my honest fame is my dearest concern; aud a thousand times have I'trembled at the idea of the degrading epithets that malice or misrepresentation may affix to my name. Often in blasting anticipation have I listened to some future hackney scribbler, with the heavy malice of savage stupidity, exultiug that Burns, notwithstanding the
fanfaronade of independence to be found in his works, and after having been held up to public view and to public estimation, as a man of some genius; get, quite destitute of resources within himself to support his borrowed dignity, dwindled into a paltry exciseman, and slunk out the rest of his insignificant existence in the mean. est of pursuits, and among the lowest of mankind.
“ In your illustrious hands, Sir, permit me to lodge my strong disavowal and defiance of such slanderous falsehoods. BURNS was a poor may from his birth, and an exciseman from gecessity; but I will say it, THE STERLING OF HIS HONEST WORTH POVERTY COULD NOT DEBASE; AND HIS INDEPENDENT BRITISH SPIRIT OPPRESSION MIGHT BEND, BUT COULD NOT SUBDUE!"
In 1796, Buros took a residence at Armandale, 10 miles frona Dumfries, for the benefit of his health ; but being attacked by a violent fever, he returned again to Dumfries; and, on the fourth day after liis return, his sufferivgs were terminated by death, in the 37th year of his age. A liberal subscription of his countrymen, and the sale of the Copyright of his works, which produced 10001. afforded his widow and poor children a comfort. able subsistence.
ENCOMIUM ON BURNS.
THE REV. JAMES NICOL.
Hail, Burns! wha can the heart engage,
While time remains,
Thy native swains.
BURNS' EPITAPH ON HIMSELF.
HE beautiful Epitaph writteu by Burns, on himself, is so strongly illustrative of his character, that we are persuaded a better finish cannot be given to this sketch thau by its insertion here. Precept, when founded on the deductions of experience, becomes of ten-fold greater value then wheu its crude advice is the simple interference of reflection.
Is there a whim-inspir'd fool,
Let him draw near,
And drap a tear.
Is there a Bard of rustic song
Oh! pass not by,
Here heave a sighl
Is there a man, whose judgement clear
Wild as the wave!
Survey this grave!
The poor inhabitant below
Aod softer flame;
And stain'd his name,
Reader, attend, whether thy soul
In low pursuit,
Is wisdom's root.