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of Socrates, as delivered by his other celebrated disciple, Xenophon. The acuteness of Plato's Socrates in confounding the arrogant falsehood of the sophists, and his skill and patience in developing the reasoning powers of his younger associates, are probably faithful copies from the great original: but his deep and subtle speculations on the nature of moral beauty and goodness, however admirable in themselves, appear to be characteristic of the writer, rather than his master; whose turn of thought seems more truly expressed by the sobriety of mind and practical good sense which are everywhere visible in the Socrates of Xenophon.'
Upon these things we fondly dwell. They are worthy of the Society. If to teach men the sciences, which help them in their ordinary pursuits to better their condition, or afford them innocent recreation, or elevate and improve their minds, be to impart useful knowledge; assuredly it is conferring no less precious a blessing upon the species, practically to inculcate those principles, and to cherish those feelings, which, if they prevailed generally, in but a small degree of the intenseness wherewithal they glow in the bosoms of the wise and the good of all sects and all parties, would banish from the earth cruelty and oppression, but chiefly war—the worst enemy of human happiness, and to every effectual improvement, the insurmountable obstacle.
Note by the Editor.
We think it right to state, that the extracts and references to Lauder's old poem " on the Office and Deuty of Kynges," he. which appear in the note beginning on page 507 of the article on Dr Jamieson's Dictionary in our last number, were borrowed from a recent number of " the Crypt," to which we were certainly indebted for our knowledge of that curious production. The learned editor of" the Crypt" has complained, and with justice, of our having omitted this acknowledgment at the time—and is also dissatisfied with some corrections we had suggested on his Glossary. He may have some grounds perhaps for this also; but the less that is said on the subject the better, we suspect, for both parties—as, on looking back to the passage, we see reason to think that both he and we are still liable to castigation. We can very conscientiously assure him, however, that any slight he may think we have put upon him, has been entirely casual—and that we think very favourably of his journal, and shau be most happy at all times, directly or indirectly, to contribute to its success.
Number XCVI. will appear in December.
3. Jurisconsulti Ante-Justinianci reliquiae ineditac, ex
2. Papers relative to American Tariffs. Printed by order
3. Report of a Committee of the Citizens of Boston and its
Art. V. Report from the Select Committee on the Police of the
VI.—1. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of
VII. Report from and Minutes of Evidence taken before the
VIII. Rationale of Judicial Evidence, specially applied to Eng-
IX. A Sermon preached in the Cathedral Church of St Paul,
Quarterly List of New Publications, . . . 533
Art. I.— The Life of Robert Burns. By J. G. Lockhart, LL.B. Edinburgh, 1828.
TN the modern arrangements of society, it is no uncommon thing that a man of genius must, like Butler, • ask for bread * and receive a stone;' for in spite of our grand maxim of supply and demand, it is by no means the highest excellence that men are most forward to recognise. The inventor of a spinning-jenny is pretty sure of his reward in his own day; but the writer of a true poem, like the apostle of a true religion, is nearly as sure of the contrary. We do not know whether it is not an aggravation of the injustice, that there is generally a posthumous retribution. Robert Burns, in the course of nature, might yet have been living: but his short life was spent in toil and penury; and he died in the prime of his manhood, miserable and neglected; and yet already a brave mausoleum shines over his dust, and more than one splendid monument has been reared in other places to his fame: the street where he languished in poverty is called by his name; the highest personages in our literature have been proud to appear as his commentators and admirers, and here is the sixth narrative of his Life, that has been given to the world! Mr Lockhart thinks it necessary to apologize for this new attempt on such a subject: but his readers, we believe, will readily acquit him; or, at worst, will censure only the performance of his task, not the choice of it. The character of Burns, indeed, is a theme that cannot easily become either trite or exhausted; and will probably gain rather than lose in its dimensions by the distance to which it is removed by Time. No man, it has been said, is a hero to his valet: and this is probably true; but the
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fault is at least as likely to be the valet's as the hero's: For it is certain that to the vulgar eye few things are wonderful that are not distant. It is difficult for men to believe that the man, the mere man whom they see, nay perhaps painfully feel, toiling at their side through the poor jostlings of existence, can be made of finer clay than themselves. Suppose that some dining acquaintance of Sir Thomas Lucy's, and neighbour of John a Combe's, had snatched an hour or two from the preservation of his game, and written us a Life of Shakspeare! What dissertations should we not have had,—not on Hamlet and The Tempest, but on the wool-trade, and deer-stealing, and the libel and vagrant laws! and how the Poacher became a Player; and how Sir Thomas and Mr John had Christian bowels, and did not push him to extremities! In like manner we believe, with respect to Burns, that till the companions of his pilgrimage, the Honourable Excise Commissioners, and the Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt, and the Dumfries Aristocracy, and all the Squires and Earls, equally with the Ayr Writers, and the New and Old Light Clergy, whom he had to do with, shall have become invisible in the darkness of the Past, or visible only by light borrowed from his juxtaposition, it will be difficult to measure him by any true standard, or to estimate what he really was and did, in the eighteenth century, for his country and the world. It will be difficult, we say; but still a fair problem for literary historians; and repeated attempts will give us repeated approximations.
His former biographers have done something, no doubt, but by no means a great deal, to assist us. Dr Currie and Mr Walker, the principal of these writers, have both, we think, mistaken one essentially important thing: Their own and the world's true relation to their author, and the style in which it became such men to think and to speak of such a man. Dr Currie loved the poet truly; more perhaps than he avowed to his readers, or even to himself; yet he everywhere introduces him with a certain patronising, apologetic air; as if the polite public might think it strange and half unwarrantable that he, a man of science, a scholar, and gentleman, should do such honour to a rustic. In all this, however, we readily admit that his fault was not want of love, but weakness of faith; and regret that the first and kindest of all our poet's biographers, should not have seen farther, or believed more boldly what he saw. Mr Walker offends more deeply in the same kind: and both err alike in presenting us with a detached catalogue of his several supposed attributes, virtues, and vices, instead of a delineation of the resulting character as a living unity. This, however, is not painting a portrait; but gauging the length and breadth of the several features, and jot