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yon hills where Stinchar flows. We may add to these O Tibbie I hae seen the day and My father was a farmer. His exquisite !yric, O Mary, at thy window be, was also, he says, one of his juvenile works.
1782-(TWENTY-THREE). Ellison Begbie refuses his hand. She was about to leave her situation, and he expected himself to "remove a little further off.” He went to the town of Irvine. “My twentythird year,” he says, was to me an important era. Partly through whim, and partly that I wished to set about doing something in life, I joined a flax-dresser in a neighboring town to learn his trade, and carry on the business of manufacturing and retailing flax. This turned out a sadly unlucky affair. My partner was a scoundrel of the first water, who made money by the mystery of thieving, and to finish the whole, while we were giving a welcoming carousal to the New Year, our shop, by the drunken carelessness of my partner's wife, took fire, and was burned to ashes; and left me, like a true poet, not worth a sixpence. In Irvine his reading was only increased, he says, by two volumes of Pamela and one of Ferdinand, Count Fathom, which gave him some idea of novels, Rhyme, except some religious pieces that are in print, he had given up, but meeting with Ferguson's Scottish Poems, he“
strung anew his lyre with emulating vigor.” Before leaving Lochlea he became a Freemason.
MOSSGIEL.-1784—(TWENTY-FIVE). February 13.-William Burnes died at Lochlea in his sixtyfourth year, his affairs in utter ruin. His sons and two grown-up daughters ranked as creditors of their father for arrears of wages, and raised a little money to stock another farm. This new farm was that of Mossgiel, parish of Mauchline, which had been sublet to them by Gavin Hamilton, writer (or attorney) in Mauchline. They entered on the farm in March : “Come, go to, I will be wise,” resolved the poet, but bad seed and a late harvest deprived them of half their expected crop. Poetry was henceforth to be the only successful vocation of Robert Burns. To this year may be assigned the. Epistle to John Rankine (a strain of rich humor, but indel. icate), and some minor pieces. In April or May he commenced his acquaintance with “ Bonnie Jean ”—Jean Armour -an event which colored all his future life, imparting to it its brightest lights and its darkest shadows.
1785—(TWENTY-six). In January the Epistle to Davie completed: Death and Dr. Hornbook written about February. Epistle to J. Lapraik, April 1, 21, and September 13. Epistle to W. Simpson in May. The Twa Herds, or the Holy Tulzie : this satire was the first of his poetic offspring that saw the light (excepting some of his songs), and it was received by a certain description of the clergy, as well as laity, with a “roar of applause.” Burns had now taken his side with the “New Light,” or rationalistic section of the church, then in violent antagonism to the “ Auld Light,” or evangelistic party, which comprised the great bulk of the lower and middling classes. To this year belong The Jolly Beggars, Halloween, The Cotter's Saturday Night, Man was made to Mourn, Address to the Deil, To a Mouse, A Winter Night, Holy Willie's Prayer, and The Holy Fair (early MS. in British Museum), Epistle to James Smith,
1786—(TWENTY-SEVEN). In rapid succession were produced Scotch Drink, The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer, The Twa Dogs, The Ordination, Address to the Unco Guid, Tou Mountain Daisy, Epistle to a Young Friend, A Bard's Epitaph, The Lament, Despondency, etc. Such a body of original poetry, written within about twelve months, poetry so natural, forcible, and picturesque, so quaint, sarcastic, humorous, and tender,had unguestionably not appeared since Shakespeare. Misfor. tunes, however, were gathering round the poet. The farm had proved a failure, and the connection with Jean Armour brought grief and shame. He gave her a written acknowledgment of marriage, but at the urgent entreaty of her father she consented that this document should be destroyed. The poet was frantic with distress and indignation. He resolved on quitting the country and engaged to go out to Jamaica as bookkeeper on an estate, and, to raise money for his passage, arranged to publish his poems. Subscription papers were issued in April. In the meantime, in bitter resentment of the perfidy, as he esteemed it, of the unfortunate Jean Armour, he renewed his intimacy with a former love, Mary Campbell, or “ Highland Mary,” who had been a servant in the family of Gavin Hamilton, and was now dairy maid at Coilsfield. He proposed marriage to Mary Campbell, was accepted, and Mary left her service and went to her parents in Argyleshire, preliminary to her union with the poet.
They parted on the banks of the Ayr, on Sunday, May 14, exchanging bibles and vowing eternal fidelity. No more is heard of Mary until after her death, which took place in October of this year. The poems were published in August, an edition of 600 copies, and were received with enthusiastic applause. The poet cleared about 2-0 by the volume, took a passage in the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde (nothing is said of Mary accompanying him), and was preparing to embark, when a letter from Dr. Blacklock, offering encouragement for a second edition, roused his poetic ambition, and led him to try his fortune in Edinburgh. Before starting he made the acquaintance of Mrs. Dunlop of Dunlop, the most valued and one of the most accomplished of his correspondents.
EDINBURGII. November 28, 1786.—Burns reaches the Scottish capital, and instantly becomes the lion of the season He is courted and caressed by the witty, the fashionable and the learned by Dugald Stewart, Harry Erskine, Hugh Blair, Adam Ferguson, Dr. Robertson, Lord Monboddo, Dr. Gregory, Fraser Tytler, Lord Glencairn, Lord Eglinton, Patrick Miller (the ingenious laird of Dalwinston), the fascinating Jane, Duchess of Gordon, Miss Burnet, etc. Henry Mackenzie, the “Man of Feeling," writes a critique on the poems in the Lounger,the members of the Caledonian Hunt subscribe for a hundred copies of the new edition,—and the poet is in a fair way, as he says, of becoming as eminent as Thomas à Kempis or John Bunyan.
1787—(TWENTY-EIGHT.) Burns applies for and obtains permission to erect a tombstone in Canongate Churchyard over the remains of Fergusson the poet. In Ăpril appears the second edition of the Poems, consisting of 3000 copies, with a list of subscribers prefixed, and a portrait of the poet. In this edition appeared Death and Dr. Hornbook, the Ordination, and Address to the Unco Guid, which were excluded from the first edition, and several new pieces, the best of which are the Brigs of Ayr and Tam Samson's Elegy. On the 4th of May the poet sets off on a tour with a young friend, Robert Ainslie, in order to visit the most interesting scenes in the south of Scotland. Crossing the Tweed over Coldstream bridge, Burns knelt down on the English side and poured forth, uncovered, and with strong emotion, the prayer for Scotland contained in the two last
stanzas of the Cotter's Saturday Night. June 4th, he was made an honorary burgess of the town of Dumfries, after which he proceeded to Ayrshire, and arrived at Mauchline on the 9th of June. “It will easily be conceived,” says Dr. Currie, “ with what pleasure and pride he was received by his mother, his brothers, and his sisters. He had left them poor and comparatively friendless; he returned to them high in public estimation, and easy in his circumstances. At this time the poet renewed his intimacy with Jean Armour. Towards the end of the month he made a short Highland tour, in which he visited Loch Lomond and Dumbarton, and returning to Mauchline, we find him (July 25) presiding as Depute Grand Master of the Tarbolton Mason Lodge, and admitting Professor Dugald Stewart, Mr. Alexander, of Ballochmyle, and others, as honorary members of the Lodge. On the 25th of August the poet set off from Edinburgh on a northern tour with William Nicol of the High School. They visited Bannockburn, spent two days at Blair with the Duke of Athole and family, proceeded as far as Inverness, then by way of Elgin, Fochabers (dining with the Duke and Duchess of Gordon), on to Aberdeen, Stonehaven, and Montrose where he met his relatives the Burneses. Arrived at Edinburgh on the 16th of September. In December made the acquaintance of Clarinda, or Mrs. MÄLehose, with whom he kept up a passionate correspondence for about three months. Overset by a drunken coachman, and sent home with a severely bruised knee, which confined him for several weeks. Mr. A. Wood, surgeon, lang Sandy Wood,” applies to Mr. Graham of Fintry, Commissioner of Excise, and gets Burns' name enrolled among the number of expectant Excise officers. During all this winter the poet zealously assists Mr. James Johnson in his publication, the Scots Musical Museum.
1788—(TWENTY-NINE). Left Edinburgh for Dumfries to inspect Mr. I tiller's land at Dalswinton. Stopped by the way at Mossgiel, February 23rd. Poor Jean Armour, who had again loved not wisely, but too well, was living apart, separated from her parents, and supported by Burns. He visited her the day before his departure for Dumfries and in less than two months they were married. He returned to Edinburgh in March, and on the 13th took a lease of the farm of Ellisland, on the banks of the Nith. On the 19th settled with Creech, the profits of the Edinburgh edition and copyright being about £ 500, of which the poet gave £ 180 to his brother Gilbert, as a loan,
to enable him to continue (with the family) at Mossgiel. In the latter end of April Burns was privately married to Jean Armour, and shortly afterwards wrote on her his two charming songs Of a' the airts the wind can blaw and 0, were I on Parnassus Hill!
ELLISLAND. In June the poet went to reside on his farm, his wife re. maining at Mauchline until a new house should be built at Ellisland. Formed the acquaintance of Captain Riddel of Glenriddel, a gentleman of literary and antiquarian tastes, who resided at Friars Carse, within a mile of Ellisland. On 28th June wrote Verses in Friars Carse Hermitage. August 5, the poet at Mauchline made public announcement of his marriage before the Kirk Session, at the same time giving “ a guinea note for behoof of the poor.” In December conducted Mrs. Burns to the banks of the Nith. I hae a wife o'
1789—(Thirty). Visited Edinburgh in February, and received about £ 50 more of copyright money from Creech. August 18, son born to the poet, named Francis Wallace. About the same time received appointment to the Excise. October 16, the great bacchanalian contest for the Whistle took place at Friars Carse in presence of the poet. On the 20th of October the sublime and affecting lyric, To Mary_in Heaven, was composed. Met Grose the antiquary at Friars Carse, and afterwards wrote the humorous poem On Captain Grose's Perigrinations. In December was written the election ballad The Five Carlines.
1790—(THIRTY-ONE). January 2.-—Writes to Gilbert that his farm is a ruinous affair. O he 14th, addressing his friend, Mr. Dunbar. W. S., relative to his Excise appointment, he says: “I found it a very convenient business to have £ 50 per annum; nor have I yet felt any of those mortifying circumstances in it I was led to fear.” The duties were hard; he had to ride at least 200 miles every week, but he still contributed largely to the Scots Musical Museum, wrote the elegy On Captain Matthew Henderson (one of the most exquisite of the poet's productions) and in the autumn produced Tam O’Shanter, by universal assent the crowning glory and masterpiece of its author.