Imagens das páginas

Tby should thy unass in humb

cover a high tone of feeling, a power and energy Alas! it's no thy neighbour sweet, of expression, particularly and strongly charac The bonnie lark, companion meet; teristic of the mind and the voice of a poet. It

Bending thee 'mong the dewy weet

Wi' spreckled breast, is from his poem entitled “The Vision,” in which |

When upward-springing, blythe to greet the genius of his native county, Ayrshire, is thus

The purpling east. supposed to address him :

“ Cauld blew the bitter-biting north “ With future hope, I oft would gaze,

Upon thy early, humble birth;
Fond, on thy little early ways,

Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Thy rudely carolled, chiming phrase,

Amid the storm,
In uncouth rhymes,

Scarce reared above the parent-earth
Fired at the simple, artless lays

Thy tender form. of other times.

“ The flaunting flowers our gardens yield, “I saw thee seek the sounding shore,

High-sheltering woods and wa's maun shield, Delighted with the dashing roar;

But thou beneath the random bield
Or, when the North hfs fleecy store

Of clod or stane,
Drove through the sky,

Adorns the histie stubble-field,
I saw grim Nature's visage hoar

Unseen, alane.
Strike thy young eye.

“ There, in thy scanty mantle clad, " Or when the deep-green mantled earth,

Thy snowy bosom sun-ward spread, Warm-cherished every floweret's birth,

Thou lifts thy unassuming head,
And joy and music pouring forth

In humble guise;
In every grove,

But now the share uptears thy bed,
I saw theo eye the general mirth

And low thou lies!
With boundless love.

“Such is the fate of artless maid, “When ripened fields and azure skies

Sweet floweret of the rural shade! Called forth the reapers' rustling noise,

By love's simplicity betrayed,
I saw thee leave their evening joys,

And guileless trust,
And lonely stalk,

Till she, like thee, all soiled, is laid
To vent thy bosom's swelling rise

Low in the dust.
In pensive walk.

u Such is the fate of simple bard, “ When youthful love, warm-blushing strong,

On life's rough ocean luckless starred !
Keen-shivering, shot thy nerves along,

Unskilful he to note the card
Those accents, grateful to thy tongue,

Of prudent lore,
The adored name,

Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
I taught thee how to pour in song,

And whelm him o'er
To soothe thy flamo.

“ Such fate to suffering worth is given, “I saw thy pulse's maddening play,

Who long with wants and woes has strivon, Wild, send thee Pleasure's devious way,

By human pride or cunning driven
Misled by Fancy's meteor-ray,

To misery's brink,
By Passion driven;

Tij, wrenched of every stay but Heaven,
But yet the light that led astray

He ruined sink.
Was light from heaven." .

“ Ev'n thou who mourn'st the daisy's fato, Of strains like the above, solemn and sublime, That fate is thine- No distant date : with that rapt and inspired melancholy in which

Stern Ruin's plough-share drives, elate,

Full on thy bloom, the poet lifts his eye “above this visible diurnal

TIU crushed beneath the furrow's weight, sphere," the poems entitled “Despondency,”

Shall be thy doom." "The Lament," "Winter: a Dirge," and the "In. vocation to Ruin," afford no less striking examples. | I have seldom met with an image more truly Of the tender and the moral, specimens equally pastoral than that of the lark, in the second advantageous might be drawn from the elegiac stanza. Such strokes as these mark the pencil verses, entitled, “Man was made to Mourn,” of the poet, which delineates nature with the from “The Cottar's Saturday Night," the stan precision of intimacy, yet with the delicate zas “To a Mouse," or those “To a Mountain colouring of beauty and of taste. Daisy, on turning it down with the plough in The power of genius is not less admirable in April 1786.” This last poem I shall insert entire, tracing the manners, than in painting the pasnot from its superior merit, but because its sions, or in drawing the scenery of nature. That length suits the bounds of my paper :

intuitive glance with which a writer like Shake

speare discerns the characters of men, with which “ Wee, modest, crimson-tipped lower,

he catches the many changing hues of life, forms Thou's met me in an evil hour,

a sort of problem in the science of mind, of For I maun crush amang the stoure Thy slender stem :

which it is easier to see the truth than to assign To spare thee now is past my power,

the cause. Though I am very far from meaning Thou bonnie gem,

to compare our rustic bard to Shakespeare, yet whoever will read his lighter and more humorous wonder, that delicacy should be so often offended poems, his “Dialogue of the Dogs," his “Dedi. in perusing a volume in which there is so much cation to G- H- , Esq.,” his “Epistles to to interest and to please us. a Young Friend," and to “W.S— n," will per. Burns possesses the spirit as well as the fancy ceive with what uncommon penetration and saga- of a poet. That honest pride and independence city this heaven-taught ploughman, from his of soul which are sometimes the muse's only humble and unlettered station, has looked upon dower, break forth on every occasion in his men and manners.

works. It may be, then, I shall wrong his feel. Against some passages of those last-mentioned ings, while I indulge my own, in calling the attenpoems, it has been objected, that they breathe tion of the public to his situation and circuma spirit of libertinism and irreligion. But if we stances. That condition, humble as it was, in consider the ignorance and fanaticism of the which he found content, and wooed the muse, lower class of people in the country where these might not have been deemed uncomfortable; poems were written, a fanaticism of that per- but grief and misfortunes have reached him nicious sort which sets faith in opposition to there; and one or two of his poems hint, what good works, the fallacy and danger of which I have learned from some of his countrymen, a mind so enlightened as our poet's could not that he has been obliged to form the resolution but perceive; we shall not look upon his lighter of leaving his native land, to seek under a West muse as the enemy of religion (of which in sev. Indian clime that shelter and support which eral places he expresses the justest sentiments), Scotland has denied him. But I trust means though she has sometimes been a little unguarded may be found to prevent this resolution from in her ridicule of hypocrisy.

taking place; and that I do my country no more In this, as in other respects, it must be allowed, than justice, when I suppose her ready to stretch that there are exceptionable parts of the volume out her hand to cherish and retain this native he has given to the public, which caution would poet, whose “woodnotes wild” possess so much have suppressed, or correction struck out; but excellence. To repair the wrongs of suffering or poets are seldom cautious, and our poet had, neglected merit; to call forth genius from the alas ! no friends or companions from whom cor- obscurity in which it had pined indignant, and rection could be obtained. When we reflect on place it where it may profit or delight the world; his rank in life, the habits to which he must these are exertions which give to wealth an have been subject, and the society in which he enviable superiority, to greatness and to patron. must have mixed, we regret perhaps more than I age a laudable pride.


(From the Friend, Aids to Reflection,and Table Talk.")

į municated by him; for we may suppose both the METHOD, IN THE WILL AND UNDER- one and the other precluded by the shortness os STANDING

our intercourse, and the triviality of the subjects. "Hear then what are the terms on which you and I'?

The difference will be impressed and felt, though ought to stand toward each other. If you hold philo- the conversation should be confined to the state sophy altogether in contempt, bid it farewell. Or if of the weather or the pavement. Still less will you have heard from any other person, or have your- | it arise from any peculiarity in his words and self found out a better than mine, then give honour to phrases. For if he be, as we now assume, a well. that, which ever it be. But if the doctrine taught in educated man as well as a man of superior these our works please you, then it is but just that

powers, he will not fail to follow the golden rule you should honour me too in the same proportion."

of Julius Cæsar, insolens verbum, tanquam scopite Plato.

lum, evitare. Unless where new things necessiWhat is that which first strikes us, and strikes tate new terms, he will avoid an unusual word us at once, in a man of education, and which, as a rock. It must have been among the earliest among educated men, so instantly distinguishes lessons of his youth, that the breach of this prethe man of superior mind, that (as was observed | cept, at all times hazardous, becomes ridiculous with eminent propriety of the late Edmund in the topics of ordinary conversation. There Burke) “we cannot stand under the same arch. remains but one other point of distinction posway during a shower of rain, without finding sible; and this must be, and in fact is, the truo him out?" Not the weight or novelty of his cause of the impression made on us. It is the remarks; not any unusual interest of facts com- unpremeditated and evidently habitual arrange

ment of his words, grounded on the habit of * Epist. Dionysio. II.

foreseeing, in each integral part, or (more plainly)

in every sentence, the whole that he then intends standing, in relation to what we will now venture to communicate. However irregular and desul. to call the science of method, is often and admir. tory his talk, there is method in the fragments. ably exhibited by our great dramatist. I scarcely

Listen, on the other hand, to an ignorant man, need refer my readers to the Clown's evidence, though perhaps shrewd and able in his particular in the first scene of the second act of “Measure calling, whether he be describing or relating. for Measure," or to the Nurse in “Romeo and We immediately perceive, that his memory alone Juliet.” But not to leave the position, without an is called into action; and that the objects and instance to illustrate it, I will take the easy-yield. events recur in the narration in the same order, ing Mrs Quickly's relation of the circumstances and with the same accompaniments, however of Sir John Falstaff's debt to her: accidental or impertinent, in which they had first "FALSTAFF. What is the gross sum that I owe occurred to the narrator. The necessity of taking thee? breath, the efforts of recollection, and the abrupt “Host. Marry, if thou wert an honest man, rectification of its failures, produce all his pauses; thyself and the money too. Thou didst swear and with exception of the "and then,” the "and to me upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my there," and the still less significant, “and so," Dolphin chamber, at the round table, by a seathey constitute likewise all his connections. coal fire, upon Wednesday in Whitsun week,

Our discussion, however, is confined to method when the prince broke thy head for liking his as employed in the formation of the understand. father to a singing-man of Windsor; thou didst ing, and in the constructions of science and litera- | swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, ture. It would indeed be superfluous to attempt to marry me and make me my lady thy wife. & proof of its importance in the business and Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife Keech, economy of active or domestic life. From the the butcher's wife, come in then and call me cotter's hearth or the workshop of the artisan to gossip Quickly ?-coming in to borrow a mess of the palace or the arsenal, the first merit, that vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns; which admits neither substitute nor equivalent, whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby is, that everything be in its place. Where this I told thee they were ill for a green wound," etc.* charm is wanting, every other merit either loses And this, be it observed, is so far from being its name, or becomes an additional ground of carried beyond the bounds of a fair imitation, that accusation and regret. Of one, by whom it is the poor soul's thoughts and sentences are more eminently possessed, we say proverbially, he is closely interlinked than the truth of nature like clock-work. The resemblance extends be- would have required, but that the connections yond the point of regularity, and yet falls short and sequence, which the habit of method can of the truth. Both do, indeed, at once divide and alone give, have in this instance a substitute in announce the silent and otherwise indistinguish | the fusion of passion. For the absence of method, able lapse of time. But the man of methodical which characterises the uneducated, is occasioned industry and honourable pursuits does more; he by an habitual submission of the understanding realises its ideal divisions, and gives a character to mere events and images as such, and indeand individuality to its moments. If the idle pendent of any power in the mind to classify or are described as killing time, he may be justly appropriate them. The general accompaniments said to call it into life and moral being, while he of time and place are the only relations which makes it the distinct object not only of the con persons of this class appear to regard in their sciousness, but of the conscience. He organises statements. As this constitutes their leading the hours, and gives them a soul; and that, the feature, the contrary excellence, as distinguishvery essence of which is to fleet away, and ever- | ing the well-educated man, must be referred to more to have been, he takes up into his own per the contrary habit. Method, therefore, becomes manence, and communicates to it the imperish | natural to the mind which has been accustomed ableness of a spiritual nature. Of the good and to contemplate not things only, or for their own faithful servant, whose energies, thus directed, sake alone, but likewise and chiefly the relations are thus methodised, it is less truly affirmed, of things, either their relations to each other, or that he lives in time, than that time lives in him. to the observer, or to the state and apprehension His days, months, and years, as the stops and of the hearers. To enumerate and analyse these punctual marks in the records of duties perform relations, with the conditions under which alone ed, will survive the wreck of worlds, and remain they are discoverable, is to teach the science of extant when time itself shall be no more.

method. But as the importance of method in the duties The enviable results of this science, when of social life is incomparably greater, so are its knowledge has been ripened into those habits practical elements proportionably obvious, and which at once secure and evince its possession, such as relate to the will far more than to the can scarcely be exhibited more forcibly as well understanding. Henceforward, therefore, we as more pleasingly, than by contrasting with the contemplate its bearings on the latter.

former extract from Shakespeare the narratiou The difference between the products of a well. disciplined and those of an uncultivated under.

* Henry IV., Part II., act il., sc. 1.

given by Hamlet to Horatio of the occurrences And many such like asses of great charge

That on the view and knowing of these contents, during his proposed transportation to England,

Without debatement further, more or less, and the events that interrupted his voyage :

He should the bearers put to sudden death, “Ham. Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting No shriving time allowed. That would not let me sleep; methought, I lay

HOR. How was this sealed Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly, HAM. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant. And praised be rashness for it- Let us know, I had my father's signet in my purse, Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,

Which was the model of that Danish seal; When our deep plots do fail: and that should teach us, Folded the writ up in the form of the other: There's a divinity that shapes our ends,

Subscribed it; gave't the impression; placed it safely, Rough-hew them how we will.

The changeling never known. Now, the next day HOR. That is most certain.

Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent, Ham. Up from my cabin,

Thou knowest already. My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark .

Hon. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't! Groped I to find out them; had my desire ;

Ham. Why, man, they did make love to this emFingered their packet; and, in fine, withdrew

ployment. To my own room again: making so bold,

They are not near my conscience ; their defeat
My fears forgetting manners, to unseal

Doth by their own insinuation grow.
Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio, 'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
A royal knavery; an exact command-

Between the pass and fell incensed points
Larded with many several sorts of reasons,

Of mighty opposites."*
Importing Denmark's health, and England's too,
With, ho ! such bugs and goblins in my life-

It would, perhaps, be sufficient to remark of That on the supervise, no leisure bated,

the preceding passage, in connection with the No, not to stay the grinding of the axe,

humorous specimen of narration, My head should be struck off! HOR, Is't possible?

“Fermenting o'er with frothy circumstance," HAM. Here's the commission; read it at more leisure."*

in Henry IV., that if, overlooking the different

value of the matter in each, we considered the Here the events, with the circumstances of

form alone, we should find both immethodical. time and place, are all stated with equal com

Hamlet from the excess, Mrs Quickly from the pression and rapidity, not one introduced which

want, of reflection and generalisation; and that could have been omitted without injury to the

method, therefore, must result from the due intelligibility of the whole process. If any

mean or balance between our passive impres. tendency is discoverable, as far as the mere facts

sions and the mind's own re-action on the same. are in question, it is the tendency to omission :

Whether this re-action do not suppose or imply and, accordingly, the reader will observe in the

a primary act positively originating in the mind following quotation that the attention of the

itself, and prior to the object in order of nature, narrator is called back to one material circum

though co-instantaneous with it in its manifestastance, which he was hurrying by, by a direct I tion will be hereafter discussed. But I had a question from the friend to whom the story is

further purpose in thus contrasting these extracts communicated, “How was this sealed ?" But by a trait which is indeed peculiarly character

from our myriad-minded bard, pvplovoûs omp.

I wished to bring forward, each for itself, these istic of Hamlet's mind, ever disposed to general

two elements of method, or, to adopt an arithise, and meditative if to excess (but which, with

metical term, its two main factors. due abatement and reduction, is distinctive of

Instances of the want of generalisation are of every powerful and methodising intellect), all the digressions and enlargements consist of re

no rare occurrence in real life: and the narraflections, truths, and principles of general and

tions of Shakespeare's Hostess and the Tapster

differ from those of the ignorant and unthinking permanent interest, either directly expressed or

in general by their superior humour, the poet's disguised in playful satire.

own gift and infusion, not by their want of I sat me down;

method, which is not greater than we often Devised a new commission; wrote it fair.

meet with in that class, of which they are the I once did hold it, as our statists do,

dramatic representatives. Instances of the opA baseness to write fair, and laboured much

posite fault, arising from the excess of general. How to forget that learning; but, sir, now It did mo yeoman's service. Wilt thou know

isation and reflection in minds of the opposite The effect of what I wrote ?

class, 'will, like the minds themselves, occur less HOR, Ay, good my lord.

frequently in the course of our own personal exHAM. An earnest conjuration from the king, perience. Yet they will not have been wanting As England was his faithful tributary ;

to our readers, nor will they have passed unobAs love between them, like the palm, might flourish: served, though the great poet himself (o tiny As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,

εαυτου ψυχήν ώσει ύλην τινα ασώματος μορφαίς Aud stand a comma 'tween their amities,

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FOLKLłaîs mopovoas*) has more conveniently “Ham. No, 'faith, not a jot; but to follow him supplied the illustrations. To complete, there-thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to fore, the purpose aforementioned, that of pre- lead it: As thus; Alexander died, Alexander senting each of the two components as separately was buried, Alexander returneth to dust; the as possible, I choose an instance in which, by dust is earth; of earth we make loam: And why the surplus of its own activity, Hamlet's mind of that loam whereto he was converted, might disturbs the arrangement, of which that very they not stop a beer-barrel ? activity had been the cause and impulse. Thus exuberance of mind, on the one hand,

“Imperious Cæsar, dead, and turned to clay, interferes with the forms of method; but steril

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away!"* ity of mind, on the other, wanting the spring

But let it not escape our recollection, that and impulse to mental action, is wholly destruc- when the objects thus connected are proportion. tive of method itself. For in attending too ex ate to the connecting energy, relatively to the clusively to the relations which the past or real, or at least to the desirable, sympathies of passing events and objects bear to general truth, mankind; it is from the same character that we and the moods of his own thought, the most in- derive the genial method in the famous soliloquy, telligent man is sometimes in danger of over. To be, or not to be” which, admired as it looking that other relation, in which they are is, and has been, has yet received only the first. likewise to be placed to the apprehension and fruits of the admiration due to it. sympathies of his hearers. His discourse ap- We have seen that from the confluence of inpears like soliloquy intermixed with dialogue. numerable impressions in each momont of time But the uneducated and unreflecting talker over

the mere passive memory must needs tend to looks all mental relations, both logical and

confusion; a rule, the seeming exceptions to psychological; and consequently precludes all | which (the thunder-bursts in Lear, for instance) method which is not purely accidental. Hence are really confirmations of its truth. For, in the nearer the things and incidents in time and

many instances, the predominance of some place, the more distant, disjointed, and imperti.

mighty passion takes the place of the guiding nent to each other, and to any common purpose, thought, and the result presents the method of will they appear in this narration: and this from nature, rather than the habit of the individual. the want of a staple, or starting-post, in the For thought, imagination (and I may add, pas. narrator himself; from the absence of the lead- sion), are, in their very essence, the first, con. ing thought, which, borrowing a phrase from the | nective, the latter co-adunative: and it has been nomenclature of legislation, I may not inaptly shown, that if the excess lead to method misapall the initiative. On the contrary, where the plied, and to connections of the moment, the habit of method is present and effective, things absence, or marked deficiency, either precludes the most remote and diverse in time, place, and method altogether, both form and substance ; or outward circumstance, are brought into mental (as the following extract will exemplify) retains contiguity and succession, the more striking as | the outward form only. the less expected. But while I would impress the necessity of this habit, the illustrations ad.

“My liege and Madam, to expostulate

What majesty should be, what duty is, duced give proof that in undue preponderance,

Why day is day, night night, and time is time, and when the prerogative of the mind is stretched

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time. into despotism, the discourse may degenerate Therefore-since brevity is the soul of wit, into the grotesque or fantastical.

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes.With what a profound insight into the consti- I will be brief. Your noble son is mad: tution of the human soul is this exhibited to us Mad call I it; for to define true madness, in the character of the Prince of Denmark, where

What is't, but to be nothing else but mad !

But let that go. flying from the sense of reality, and seeking a

QUEEN. More matter with less art. reprieve from the pressure of its duties in that

Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all, ideal activity, the overbalance of which, with

That he is mad, 'tis true : 'tis true, 'tis pity; consequent indisposition to action, in his disease, | And pity 'tis, 'tis true: a foolish figure; he compels the reluctant good sense of the high But farewell it, for I will use no art. yet healthful-minded Horatio to follow him in Mad let us grant him then ; and now remains, his wayward meditation amid the graves !

That we find out the cause of this effect.

Or rather say the cause of this defect; “Ham. To what base uses we may return,

For this effect defective comes by cause. Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the

Thus it remains, and the remainder thus noble dust of Alexander till he find it stopping a

Perpend."? bung-hole ?

“HOR. 'Twere to consider too curiously to Does not the irresistible sense of the ludicrous consider so.

in this flourish of the soul-surviving body of

* “He that moulded his own soul, as some incorporeal material, into various forms."-Themistius.

Act v., sc. 1.

+ Act iii., sc. I. * Act ii., sc. 2.

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