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tion could have aspired. He performed another journey the same year, of which there are a few minutes in the work already referred to, and which furnished him with subjects for his muse. His companion in some of these tours was a Mr. Nicol, a man of considerable talents, but eccentric manners, who was endeared to Burns not only by the warmth of his friendship, but by a certain congeniality of sentiment and agreement in habits. This sympathy, in some other instances, made our poet capriciously fond of companions who, in the eyes of men of more regular conduct, and more refined notions, were insufferable.
During the greater part of the winter 1787-8, Burns again resided in Edinburgh, and entered with peculiar relish into its gaieties. By his patrons of the higher order he was still respected and caressed; but as the singularities of his manner displayed themselves more openly, and as the novelty of his appearance wore off, he became less an object of general curiosity and attention. He lingered long in this place, however, in hopes that some situation would have been offered which might place him in independence: but as it did not seem probable that any thing of that kind would occur soon, he began seriously to reflect that he had as yet acquired no perinanent situation in the world, and that tours of pleasure and praise would not provide for the wants of a family. Influenced by these considerations, and probably ashamed of a delay which was not in unison with his native independence of mind, he quitted Edinburgh in the month of Feb. ruary 1788. Finding himself master of nearly 5001, from the sale of his poems, after discharging all expenses, he took the farm of Ellisland, near Dum. fries, and stocked it with part of this money, besides generously advancing 2001. to his brother Gilbert, who was struggling with many difficulties in the farm of Mossgiel. He was now also legally
should remain with her father, wbile he, having lost all hopes of success at home, was to go to Jamaica " to push his fortune.” This proceeding, however romantic it may appear, would have rescued the lady's character, consonant to the laws of Scotland, which allow of greater latitude in the terms and period of the marriage-contract than those of England; but it did not satisfy her father, who insisted on having all the written documents respecting the marriage cancelled, and by this unfeeling measure, he intended that it should be rendered void. The daughter consented, probably under the awe of parental authority; and our poet, though with much anguish and reluctance, was also obliged to submit. Divorced, now, from all he beld dear in the world, he had no resource but in his projected voyage to Jamaica, which was prevented by one of those circumstances that, in common cases, might pass without observation, but which eventually laid the foundation of his future fame. For once, his poverty stood his friend. Had he been provided with money to pay for his passage to Jamaica, he night have set sail, and been forgotten. But he was, we may say, fortunately destitute of every necessary for the voyage, and was therefore advised to raise a sum of money by publishing his poems in the way of subscription. They were accordingly printed at Kilmarnock, in the year 1786, in a small volume, which was encouraged by subscriptions for about 350 copies.
It is hardly possible, say his countrymen, who were on the spot at this time, to express with what eager admiration and delight these poems were every where received. Old and young, high and low, grave and gay, learned and ignorant, all were alike delighted, agitated, transported. Such transports would naturally find their way into the bosom of the author, especially when he found that, instead of the necessity of Aying from his native land, he was now encouraged to go to Edinburgh and superintend the publication of a second edition.
This was the most momentous period of his life, in which he was to emerge from obscurity and poverty to distinction and wealth. In the metropolis, he was soon introduced into the company and received the homage of men of literature, rank, and taste; and his appearance and behaviour at this time, as they exceeded all expectation, heightened and kept up the curiosity which his works had excited. He became the object of universal admiration and fondness, and was feasted, caressed, and flattered, as if it had been impossible to reward his merit too highly, or to grace bis triumphal entry by too many solemnities. But what contributed principally to extend his fame into the sister kingdom, was his fortunate introduction to Mr. Mackenzie, who, in the 97th paper of the Lounger, then published periodically at Edinburgh, recommended his poems by judicious specimens, and such generous and elegant criticism, as placed the poet at once in the rank he was destined to hold. From this time, whether present or absent, Burns and his genius were the objects which engrossed all attention and all conversation.
It cannot be surprising if so much adulation, in this new scene of life, produced effects on Burns wbich were the source of much of the unhappiness of his future life : for, while he was admitted into the company of men of taste, delicacy, and virtue, he was also seduced, by pressing invitations, into the society of those whose habits, without being very gross, are yet too social and inconsiderate. It is to be regretted that he had little resolution to withstand those attentions which flattered his merit, and appeared to be the just respect due to a degree of superiority of which he could not avoid being conscious. Among the loose and gay, he met with much of that deference which enslaves while it
seems to fawn! and the festive indulgences of these his companions and professed admirers were temptations which often became irresistible, because a generous mind thinks it ungrateful and unkind to resist them. Among his superiors in rank and merit, his behaviour was in general decorous and unassuming; but among his more equal or inferior associates, he was permitted to dictate the mirth of the evening, and repaid the attention and submission of his hearers by sallies of wit, which from one of his birth and education, in addition to their sterling value, had all the fascination of wonder. His introduction, about the same time, into certain convivial clubs of higher rank, was, to say the least, an injudicious mark of respect to one who, whatever his talents, was destined, unless very uncommon and liberal patronage should interpose, to return to the plough, and to the simple and frugal enjoyments of a peasant's life.
During his residence at Edinburgh, his finances were considerably improved by the new edition of his poems; and this enabled him not only to partake of the pleasures of that city, but to visit several other parts of his native country. He left Edinburgh, May 6, 1787, and in the course of his journey was hospitably received at the houses of many gentlemen of worth and learning, who introduced him to their friends and neighbours, and repeated the applauses on which he had feasted in the metropolis. Of this tour he wrote a journal, which still exists, and of which some specimens have been published." He afterwards travelled into England as far as Carlisle. In the beginning of June he arrived at Mossgiel, near Mauchlin, in Ayrshire, after an absence of six months, during which he had experienced a happy reverse of fortune, to which the hopes of few men in his situa. greatest of our poets. But he had not matured these notions by reflection; and he was now to learn, that a little knowledge of the world will overturn many such airy fabrics. If we may form any judgment, however, from his correspondence, his expectations were not very extravagant, since he expected only that some of his illustrious patrons would have placed him, on whom they had be. stowed the honours of genius, in a situation where his exertions might have been uninterrupted by the fatigues of labour, and the calls of want. Disappointed in this, he now formed a design of applying for the office of exciseman, as a kind of resource in case his expectations from the farm should be baffled. By the interest of one of his friends this object was accomplished ; and after the usual forms were gone through, he was appointed exciseman, or, as it is vulgarly called, gauger of the district in which he lived.
* Dr. Currie's Life of Burns, Vol. I. p. 163, & seq.
It soon appeared, as might naturally have been expected, that the duties of this office were incompatible with his previous employment. “His farm,” says Dr. Currie, “was in a great measure abandoned to his servants, while he betook him. self to the duties of his new appointment. He might still, indeed, be seen in the spring, directing his plough, a labour in which he excelled, or with a white sheet, containing his seed-corn, slung across his shoulders, striding with measured steps, along his turned-up furrows, and scattering the grain in the earth. But his farm no longer occupied the principal part of his care or his thoughts. It was not at Ellisland that he was now in general to be found :-Mounted on horseback, this highminded poet was pursuing the defaulters of the revenue, among the hills and vales of Nithsdale, his roving eye wandering over the charms of nature,