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Harde as the thonder doth she drive ytte on,
War, goare-faced war, bie envie burld, arist,
AN EXCELENTE BALADE OF CHARITE.
In Virgyne the sweltrie sun gan sheene,
'Twas nowe the pride, the manhode of the yeare,
The sun was glemeing in the middle of daie,
Hiltring attenes the sunnis fetive face,
Beneathe an holme, faste by a pathwaie side,
bretful of the miseries of neede,
Look in his glommed face, his sprighte there scanne;
Is charitie and love aminge highe elves;
The gatherd storme is rype; the bigge drops falle ;
The welkin opes; the yellow levynne flies;
Liste; now the thunder's rattling clymmynge sound
Again the levynne and the thunder poures,
Spurreynge his palfrie oere thae watrie plaine,
The storme encreasen, and he drew aside,
His cope was all of Lyncolne clothe so fyne,
The trammels of the palfrye pleasde his sighte,
An almes, sir prieste! the droppynge pilgrim saide,
Varlet, reply'd the abbatte, cease your dinne;
And now the sonne with the blacke cloudes did stryve,
And shettynge on the grounde his glairie raie,
Once moe the skie was blacke, the thounder rolde ;
And from the pathwaie side then turned hee,
An almes, sir prieste! the droppynge pilgrim sayde,
Here take this silver, it maie eathe thie care ;
But ah! unhailie pilgrim, lerve of me,
Virgynne and hallie seyncte, who sitte yn gloure,
IN HAPPIENESSE, BY WILLIAM CANYNGE. Maie Selynesse on erthes boundes bee hadde? Maie yt adyghte yn human shape bee founde? Wote yee, ytt was wyth Edin's bower bestadde, Or quite eraced from the scaunce-layd grounde, Whan from the secret fontes the waterres dyd abounde? Does yt agrosed shun the bodyed waulke, Lyve to ytself, and to yttes ecchoe taulke? All hayle, Contente, thou mayde of turtle-eyne, As thie behoulders thynke thou arte iwreene, To ope the dore to Selvnesse ys thrne, And Chrystis glorie doth upponne thee sheene. Doer of the soule thynge ne hath thee seene; In caves, ynn wodes, yon woe, and dole distresse, Whoere hath thee hath gotten Selynesse.
O God, whose thunder shakes the sky;
O teach me in the trying hour,
But ah! my breast is human still ;
soul declare. But yet, with fortitude resign'd, I'll thank th' inflicter of the blow; Forbid the sigh, compose my mind, Nor let the gush of mis’ry flow. The gloomy mantle of the night, Which on my sinking spirit steals, Will vanish at the morning light, Which God, my East, my Sun, reveals.
Robert Burns, the son of William Burness, a Scottish peasant, was born on the 25th of January, 1759, in a clay built cottage, raised by his father's own hands, on the banks of the Doon, in the county of Ayr. Misfortunes thwarted his first efforts to get the means of subsistence in the world; and, in 1786, after vainly trying the business of tlax-dressing in Irvine, and of farming at Mossgiel, he had resolved to banish himself abroad, -when the extraordinary reception given to a volume of poems, which he published by the aid of a subscription, and with the hope of its profits turning out sutficient to carry him over the Atlantic, arrested this intention. Invitations to Edinburgh poured in upon the peasant poet, and to Edinburgh he went. He was received with patronizing enthusiasm. In the splendid parties of the Gordons, the Montgomerys, and the Hamiltons, he was caressed and feasted; but at the close of some brilliant day, after handing a jewelled duchess to her carriage, had to trudge his way through dingy alleys to his own obscure lodging, with his share of a deal table, a sanded floor, and a chaff bed, at eighteen-pence a week. This was the ingenious mode adopted by the Scotch aristocracy, to impress upon Burns, with every available advantage of contrast, the peculiarity of his social rank. It was a bitter lesson, and was never forgotten. Meanwhile, nothing could be more calm, more manly, or unaffected, than had been the Poet's reception of the vulgar wonder he inspired. With the profits of a second and very large edition of his poems he lent two hundred pounds to his brother Gilbert, to enable him to mend himself in the world and support his mother, and he then took the farm of Ellisland. He left behind him in disgust the cold faces which had repelled him on his second visit to Edinburgh ; but it was not without a saddened and rebuked spirit that he entered on his new toils. A situation in the Excise, of the value of thirty-five pounds a year, was sent after him, won by the intercession of some nobleman from that government, a principal member of which had already expressed, in bad verses, what was meant to be an enthusiastic appreciation of the proposed exciseman's genius. Affairs went badly with Burns at Ellisland, and he had soon little consolation left beyond the still surviving hopes of the excellent and virtuous girl whom he had married, Jean Armour. He gave up the farm and removed to Dumfries, and from this to the close of his life, he quarrelled with smugglers, gauged beer barrels, suffered all sorts of mortifications, and wrote immortal verses. A final trial was reserved for him. His political opinions having been unfavourably represented to the authorities, he was driven to a hard struggle to retain his miserable situation in the Excise, and only kept it at last on the understanding that he would strictly attend to an accompanying official instruction, that his business was to act and not to think. The business of Burns to act and not to think! On the 21st of July, 1796, after narrowly escaping a prison in the midst of his last illness, Burns died.
The person of Burns, in his youth, was tall and sinewy. “The man,” says his last and best biographer, Mr. Allan Cunningham, " differed little from the lad. . . . He had a slight stoop of the neck, betokening a holder of the plough; and a lock or so of his dark waving hair was tied carelessly behind with two casts of narrow black ribbon. His looks beamed with genius and intelligence .... his eyes were large, dark, and lustrous.” “I never saw,” said Sir Walter Scott, "such another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men of my time."
There is nothing finer than the writing of Burn, except the writing of Shakspeare. We do not in this allude to it in a poetical sense merely; but, as the writing of a man, simple, firm, and true; as the indication of a feeling of boundless generosity and of all comprehending love; as the expression of sincerity, fervid enough to lift the lowest thing to the level of the highest; as a decisive yet most graceful union of tenderness with vehemence, of trembling pity with earnest and forceful passion;-nothing is to be compared with the fraginents of the genius of Burns (for the miserable circumstances of his life enabled him to leave fragments only) except the far more widely extending genius of Shakspeare. Burns wrote verses because he could not help it. His heart was too full to suffer him to be silent. This is the great distinction of all his productions. His pulse beats in them still, as actively, as healthfully, and as vigorously, as when he first stepped upon the world, light of foot and high in hope. His eye was as true as his heart, and the graphic power of his writing is consequently not exceeded by any one,
His name and influence will endure as long as there is a hill or a stream in Scotland.