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the restraint he put on himself, almost | set himself, with more resolution than to bursting. The father had early per- he ever showed before or after, to fulceived his son's extraordinary talents, fil that mission. Hitherto he had combut he also noted the strong passions, plained that his life had been without with the weak will, which might drive an aim ; now be determined that it him on the quicksands of life.

should be so no longer. “The hope Towards the close of 1783, Robert began to gladden him that he might and his brother took the small farm of take his place among the bards of Mossgiel. Thither they conveyed their Scotland, who, themselves mostly unwidowed mother, and their younger known, have created that atmosphere brothers and sisters. Burns made a of minstrelsy which envelops and resolution to be prudent, industrious, glorifies their native country.” It was and thrifty. In his own words, “I about his twenty-fifth year when Robread farming books, I calculated crops, ert Burns first conceived the hope that I attended markets, and, in short, in he might become a national poet, and spite of the devil, the world, and the in less than two years he had amply flesh, I should have been a wise man; fulfilled his aspirations. From the but the first year, from unfortunately autumn of 1784, till May, 1786, the buying bad seed, the second from a fountains of poesy were unsealed, and late harvest, we lost half our crops. flowed forth in a continuous stream. This overset all my wisdom, and I re- It was at this time that he wrote the turned like the dog to his vomit, and general satire “ Death and Dr. Hornthe sow that was washed, to her wal- book," and many of those descriptive lowing in the mire.” Burns was in poems, in which he so cleverly delinhis twenty-sixth year when he went to eated the habits of the Scottish peaslive at Mossgiel, and he remained there antry. for four years.

“ Three things those The garret, in which all his poems years, and that bare moorland farm of this period were written, is thus witnessed, - the wreck of his hopes as described by Chambers : “ The farma farmer, the revelation of his genius house of Mossgiel which still exists as a poet, and the frailty of his char- almost unchanged since the days of the acter as a man.” His “liberal opin- poel, is very small, consisting of only ions" became so pronounced that he two rooms, a but and a ben, as they was compelled to undergo public pen- are called in Scotland. Over these, ance by the parish minister, who reached by a trap-stair, is a small garmerely carried out the rules which his ret, in which Robert and his brother Church enjoined. The bitter feelings used to sleep. Thither, when he had which this exposure engendered in his returned from his day's work, the poet mind, launched Burns into the troubled used to retire, and seat hiniself at a sea of religious controversy that was small deal table, lighted by a narrow at that time raging around him, and he sky-light in the roof, to transcribe the wrote many clever satires against the verses which he had composed in the upholders of the strict Church disci- fieids. His favorite time for composipline which condemned his conduct ; tion was at the plough. Loug years among the most remarkable of these afterwards, his sister, Mrs. Begg, used sallies of his wit and sarcasm were to tell how, when her brother had gone " The Twa Herds, or The Holy Tul- forth again to field-work, she would zie," written on a quarrel between two steal up to the garret, and search the clergymen. Then followed in quick drawer of the deal table for the verses succession, “Holy Willie's Prayer,” which Robert had newly transcribed.” “ The Ordination,” and “The Holy A nature like the poet's required Fair."

some vent for itself, some excitement Burns now seems to have awakened to relieve the pressure of dull farm to the conviction that his destiny was drudgery, and in poetry Burns found to become a poet; and he forth with his noblest and purest emotions expend

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themselves. But he was also given to Bible between them, vowed eternal two other more hazardous forms of fidelity to each other. They then pleasure, viz., conviviality and love-parted, never again to meet. In Octomaking. In the latter of these pur- ber of the same year Mary came from suits, while at Mossgiel, his brother Argyllshire, as far as Greenock, in the says he indulged little, if at all; and hope of meeting Burns, but she was this seems proved by the assertion that there seized with a malignant fever Robert's private expenditure never which soon laid her in an early grave.” exceeded seven pounds a year. When The Bible, in two volumes, which he had dressed himself on this, and Burns gave Mary on that parting day, procured his other necessaries, the bears this inscription in the first volmargin that remained for drinking must ume, written in Burns's hand, “ And have been small indeed.

ye shall not swear by My Name falsely, When Burns forsook the paths of in- I am the Lord.” And in the second nocence, there is nothing in any of his volume,“ Thou shalt not forswear thylove affairs which is not best forgotten. self, but shalt perform unto the Lord But there are two incidents, so inti-thine oath." Though Burns wrote mately bound up in his life's history, several poems about Highland Mary, that they cannot be passed over. which afterwards appeared in print, he Among the belles of the neighborivg never mentioned her name to any of village was Jean Armour, the daughter his family, but there is reason to supof a respectable master mason, and she pose that he was visited by remorse for held the foremost place in the affec- his conduct towards her, and that he tions of the poet. In 1786, a secret and expressed it in his lyric to “ Mary in irregular marriage was effected be- Heaven," written three years aftertween them, but her father was indig- wards. nant that she should have married so In April, 1786, the publication of wild and worthless a man as Burns. Burns's poems was agreed upon, and He compelled her to part from hin, his friends arranged to subscribe a sum and to destroy the document which of money for that purpose. It was vouched for their union. Burns was hoped that he would realize a sufficient driven almost to the verge of insanity amount by the sale of the copies to take by this proceeding. Armour let loose him to the West Indies. He wrote at all the terrors of the law against him, this time, “The Mountain Daisy," and he had to lie concealed for a while. “ The Lament,” the odes " To DeHe then resolved to emigrate to the spondency,” and “ To Ruin.” And West Indies, and become a slave-driver. yet so various were his moods, so verWhile all these things were passing, satile his powers, that it was during Jean Armour became the mother of this same interval that he composed twin children.

in a very different vein, “The Twa Yet, almost at the very time when Dogs," and his satire of “ The Holy Burns was half distracted by Jean's Fair." The fame of his poems spread desertion of him, and while he was like wild-fire throughout Ayrshire, and writing his broken-hearted “ Lament” the parts adjacent, and the edition was over her conduct, there occurred the sold off in about two months. When episode of Mary Campbell. “This all expenses were paid, Burns received sincere-hearted girl from Argyllshire about twenty pounds as his share of was," Lockhart says, “the object of the profits. He took a steerage pasby far the deepest passion that Burns sage in a vessel bound for the West ever knew. They met in a sequestered Indies, but his poems were finding a spot by the banks of the river Ayr, one response in minds superior to any Sunday in May, 1786, to spend one day which he had hitherto known, and of parting love ; they stood one on many persons of every rank were anxeither side of a small brook, laved their ious to become aequainted with the bands in the stream, and holding a wonderful Ayrshire ploughman, for it

was by that name he now began to be | morning he breakfasted with a large known, just as in the next generation another poet of as humble birth was -spoken of as the Ettrick Shepherd.

party at the next farmhouse, tenanted by James Stodart; took lunch with some friends at the bank in Carnwith, and rode into Edinburgh that evening on the pony, which he returned to its owner, a few days afterwards, by John Samson, the brother of the immortal Tam. This is but a sample of the kind of receptions which were henceforth to await Burns wherever his coming was known. If such rejoicings were pleasing to his ambition, they must have been detrimental to his bodily and his mental well-being,

The first persons of a higher order who sought the acquaintanceship of Burns were Dugald Stewart, and Mrs. Dunlop of Dunlop. The former of these two was the celebrated metaphysician, one of the chief ornaments of the Edinburgh University at the close of last century. The latter continued the constant friend of Burns and his family while she lived, and nearly the last use he made of his pen was writing a short letter to this lady a few days Burns reached Edinburgh on the before his death. "Old and young, 28th of November, 1786. The one high and low, grave and gay, learned man of note there with whom he had or ignorant, were all alike delighted, any acquaintance, was Professor Duagitated, and transported by the vol- gald Stewart, whom we have already ume which Burns published. Plough- mentioned. But it was not to him, or boys and maidservants would gladly to any one of his reputation, that he bestow, the wages they earned so first turned. During the whole of this hardly, and which they wanted to pur- winter, he lived with an old Mauchline chase necessary clothing, if they might friend, who was humbly lodged in procure the works of the poet." Baxter's Close, Lawmarket. He Burns now gave up the thought of shared with this poor lad his single going to the West Indies, and deter-room and bed, for which they paid mined to set his face towards the Scot- three shillings a week. It was from tish capital, and try his fortune there; hoping that in new excitement he might obtain renown, and escape from the demons of despair and remorse which had been for many months tugging at his heart-strings. His journey from Mossgiel to Edinburgh was a triumphant progress. He rode on a pony, lent him by a friend, and as the journey took two days, his restingplace the first night was at the farmhouse of Covington Mains, in Lanarkshire, hard by the Clyde. All the farmers in the parish had read the poet's verses, and were anxious to see him. They were all asked to meet him at a late dinner, and the signal of his arrival was to be a white sheet attached to a pitchfork, and put on the top of a corn-stack in the baru-yard. When Burns came in view, the white flag was hoisted, and all the farmers were seen running from their houses, and converging to the point of meeting. A night of excitement and conviviality followed, and on the following

this lodging that the poet emerged, a little while afterwards, to go forth into the best society of the Scottish capital, and thither, after the brief hospitalities he received, he had to return.

But though Burns, for the first few days after his arrival in Edinburgh, wandered about companionless, he was not long left unbefriended. Mr. Dalrymple, of Orangefield, an Ayrshire county gentleman, introduced him to his relative, the Earl of Glencairn, who, as long as he lived, remained the poet's friend. But the fame of Burns soon spread, and within a month he had been welcomed at the houses of all the celebrities in the city. Lord Monboddo, Robertson, the historian, Dr. Hugh Blair, Dugald Stewart, Dr. Adam Ferguson, the "Man of Feeling," and many others. On the whole, the native good sense of the poet carried him well through this ordeal. As Mr. Lockhart has observed, "he showed, in the whole strain of his bearing, his belief that in the society of the most

Dugald Stewart, in his cautious way, hints that Burns did not always keep to the learned circles which had welcomed him, but sometimes indulged in

was then in Edinburgh, as elsewhere, more or less habitual in all classes. At these meetings all restraint was cast to the winds, and the mirth drove fast and furious. With open arms the clubs welcomed the poet to their festivities; each man proud to think that he was carousing with Robbie Burns. The poet, it is said, gave way to all his

eminent men of his nation he was times indiscriminate and extravagant. where he was entitled to be, hardly His wit was ready, and always imdeiguing to flatter them by exhibiting a pressed with the marks of a vigorous symptom of being flattered." All who understanding; but, to my taste, not heard him were astonished by his won- often pleasing or happy." derful powers of conversation; these impressed them, they said, even more than the genius shown in his finest poems. Mr. Walker says: "I was not much"not very select society." Tavern life struck by his first appearance. His person, though strong and well-built, and much superior to what might be expected in a ploughman, appeared to be only of the middle size, but was rather above it. His motions were firm and decided, and though without grace, were at the same time so free from clownish constraint as to show that he had not always been confined impulses, mimicking his superiors in to the society of his profession. His countenance was not of that elegant cast which is most frequent among the upper ranks, but it was manly and intelligent, and marked by a thoughtful gravity which shaded at times into sternness. In his large, dark eyes the most striking index of his genius resided. They were full of mind. . . By the 21st of April, 1787, the ostenHe was plainly but properly dressed, sible object for which Burns had come in a style midway between the holiday to Edinburgh was attained, and the costume of a farmer, and that of the second edition of his poems appeared company with which he now asso-in a handsome octavo volume. It was ciated. His black hair, without pow- published by subscription, and in the der, at a time when it was generally list of the subscribers appeared the worn, was tied behind, and spread names of many of the chief men in upon his forehead. Had I met him near a seaport, I should have thought him to be the master of a merchant vessel."

position, who, he fancied, looked coldly upon him, paying them off by making them the butt of his raillery, letting loose all his varied powers of wit, humor, and satire, and throwing off, from time to time, snatches of licentious song, to be picked up by eager listeners.

Scotland. Nothing equal to the patronage that Burns at this time met with had ever been seen since the days of Pope's Iliad. The proceeds from Dugald Stewart says: "Burns was this volume ultimately made him the passionately fond of the beauties of possessor of about £500, quite a little nature. The idea which his conversa- fortune for one who, as he himself contion conveyed of the powers of his fesses, had never before had £10 he mind exceeded, if possible, that which could call his own. But unfortunately, is suggested by his writings, and his the money was not paid down to him predilection for poetry was rather the without delay, and the poet was kept result of his own enthusiastic and waiting for many months for the settleimpassioned temper, than of a genius ment of his claims-months during exclusively adapted to that species of which he could not for want of cash composition. The remarks he made turn to any fixed employment, and upon the characters of men were which were, therefore, spent by him shrewd and pointed, though frequently unprofitably enough.

inclining too much to sarcasm, while During the summer and autumn of his praise of those he loved was some- 1787, Burns made several tours to vari

verse,

a hackney coach by a drunken driver. | by her father, the consequences of her The fall left him with a bruised limb, renewed intimacy with the poet having which confined him to his room from become apparent. Burns provided a the 7th of December till the middle of shelter for her under the roof of a February, 1787. During these weeks friend ; but for a time does not appear he suffered greatly from low spirits, and to have intended doing more than this. the letters which he then wrote show Whether he regarded the original prihis discontent with himself and with vate marriage as entirely dissolved, and the world, and contain some of the looked upon himself as an unmarried gloomiest bursts of despondency which man, is not very clear. Anyhow, he he ever gave vent to, either in prose or and Clarinda, who knew all that had

passed with regard to Jean Armour, While he was suffering from these seem to have thought that enough had miserable feelings he made the ac- been done for the seemingly discarded quaintance of Mrs. MÄLehose, and a Mauchline damsel, and to have carried violent attachment on both sides was on their correspondence as rapturously the consequence. This lady had been as ever for fully another six weeks, deserted by her husband, who had until the 21st of March, 1788. On that gone to the West Indies, leaving her in day Sylvander wrote to Clarinda a final poverty and obscurity to bring up two letter, pledging himself to everlasting young boys as best she might. She love, and following it by a copy of was " of a somewhat voluptuous style poems, beginning : of beauty, of lively and easy manners,

Fair empress of the poet's soul, of a poetical fabric of mind, with some wit, and not too bigh a degree of re- presenting her with a pair of winefinement or delicacy – exactly the kind glasses as a parting gift. of woman to fascinate Burns."

On the 24th of March he said fareFor several months he visited her well to Edinburgh, and never returned unremittingly, and entered into a cor- to it for more than a day's visit. Berespondence with her, in which he ad-fore leaving town, however, he had dressed her as Clarinda, while calling arranged three pieces of business, all himself Sylvander. These letters have bearing closely on his future life. been published separately and are well First, he had secured an appointment known. One could wish for the poet's in the Excise, through the kindness of sake they had never been preserved." Lang Sandy Wood,” the surgeon who Lockhart says :

“ Blended with a pro- attended him when laid up with a fusion of forced compliments and un- bruised limb; next, he had concluded real raptures, there are expressions in a bargain with Mr. Miller, of DalswinBurns's letters which one cannot button, to lease his farm of Ellisland, and believe that he meant in earnest, at the lastly, he had obtained a business setmoment he wrote them. Clarinda, it tlement with Creech regarding the would seem, must have regarded Burns second edition of his poems. Dr. as a man wholly disengaged, and have Chalmers estimates the profits that aclooked forward to the possible removal crued to Burns from this transaction to of Mr. M'Lehose, and with him of the be as nearly as possible £500. Of this obstacle to a union with Burns. How sum Burns gave £180 to his brother far he may have really shared the same Gilbert, who was now in pecuniary hope it is impossible to say. We only. trouble. “I give myself no airs on know that he used again and again lan-this,” he writes, “ for it was mere selfguage of deepest devotion, vowing to ishuess on my part; I was conscious love Clarinda to death, through death, that the wrong scale of the balance and forever!"

pretty heavily charged, and I While this correspondence was going thought that throwing a little filial and on, Burns received the news that Jean fraternal affection into the scale in my Armour had been turned out of doors favor, might help to smooth matters at

was

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