Page images

For the Anthology

GENTLEMEN, To such as respect the warm, vivid genius, and lament the hard, cruel fortune

of Burns, no apology need be necessary for printing, as it was never pub. lished in America, the following letter of the Ayrshire Bard, written to Francis Grose, while collecting materials for “ the Antiquities of Scotland.” I send it to you for publication, not because it displays in full and free exercise either of his discriminative powers of mind, for it neither melts to tenderness, nor charms to rapture ;-it neither glows with the breathing thoughts of pathos, nor beams with the burning words of fancy. It is however a letter of information, written, as such a letter ought to be written, in a clear, concise

style ; without eloquence to dazzle, without verbiage to weary. If required to compare their characters, as Burns and Cowper appear in their

respective letters, I should say, that Cowper always engages those feelings, which interest the reader in the fortune of the writer ; but of Burns what should I say? I could only heighten the encomium, and say, that what Cowper with great labour does very well, Burns does incomparably better with no ex, ertion. In Burns there is more of rustick honesty, more of frank, native politeness ; in Cowper there is more of courtly sincerity, more of sly, acquired civility. Cowper plays upon the ear, he amuses, and instructs ; Burns inter, ests and delights, he steals into the heart. Burns always discovers “naked feeling" ; Cowper, I am afraid, sometimes betrays "aching pride.” Cowper is coldly liked-his foibles are pitied; Burns is warmly loved, his vices are pardoned. We read Cowper, as a husband treats his wife, with affection mellowing to esteem; we read Burns, as a lover courts his mistress, with esteem ripening to affection.



AMONG the many Witch Sto. vourite haunt of the devil and the ries I have heard relating to Alo devil's friends and emissaries, he way Kirk, I distinctly remember was struck aghast by discovering only two or three.

through the horrours of the storm Upon a stormy night, amid and stormy night, a light, which whirling squalls of wind and bitter on his nearer approach, plainly blasts of hail, in short, on such a shewed itself to proceed from the * night as the devil would choose to haunted edifice.. Whether he had take the air in, a farmer or far- been fortified from above on his mer's servant was pledding and devout supplication, as is customplashing homeward with his ary with people when they suspect plough-irons on his shoulder, hav- the immediate presence of Satan ; ing been getting some repairs on or whether, according to another them at a neighbouring smithy. Custom, he had got courageously His way lay by the Kirk of Alo- drunk at the smithy, I will not way, and being rather on the anx- pretend to determine ; but so it ious look-out in approaching a was that he ventured to go up to, place so well known to be a fac nay into the very kirk. As good

luck would have it, his temerity stopping his horse to observe them came off unpunished. The mem a little, could plainly descry the bers of the infernal junto were all faces of many old women of his out on some midnight business or acquaintance and neigbbourhood. other, and he saw nothing but a How the gentleman was dressed, kind of kettle or caldron, depende tradition does not say ; but the lar ing from the roof, over the fire, dies were all in their smocks : and simmering some heads of unchris one of them happening unluckily tened children, limbs of executed to have a smock, which was conmalefactors, &c. for the business siderably too short to answer all of the night. It was in for a the purpose of that piece of dress, penny, in for a pound, with the our farmer was so tickled that he honest ploughman : so without involuntarily burst out, with a loud ceremony he unhooked the cal. laugh, “ Weel luppen* Maggy, dron from off the fire, and pouring wi' the short sark !" and recollectout the damnable ingredients, in- ing himself, instantly spurred his verted it on his head, and carried it horse to the top of his speed. ! fairly home, where it remained need not mention the universally long in the family a living evidence known fact, that no diabolical powof the truth of the story.

er can pursue you beyond the Another story, which I can middle of a running stream.prove to be equally authentick,was Lucky it was for the poor farmer as follows.

that the river Doon was so near, On a market day in the town of for notwithstanding the speed of Ayr, a farmer from Carrick, and his horse, which was a good one, consequently whose way lay by against he reached the middle of the very gate of Aloway kirk-yard, the arch of the bridge, and consein order to cross the river Doon quently the middle of the stream, at the old bridge, which is about the pursuing, vengeful hags, were two or three hundred yards fur so close at his heels, that one of ther on than the said gate, had them actually sprung to seizę been detained by his business, till, him ; but it was too late, nothing by the time he reached Aloway, it was on her side of the stream but was the wizard hour, between the horse's tail, which immediatenight and morning. Though he ly gave way at her infernal grip, was terrified with a blaze stream as if blasted by a stroke of lighting from the kirk,yet, as it is a well ning ; but the farmer was beyond known fact, that to turn back on her reach. However, the unsightthese occasions is running by far ly, tail-less condition of the vigthe greatest risk of mischief, he

orous steed was, to the last hour of prudently advanced on his road. the noble creature's life, an awful. When he had reached the gate of warning to the Carrick farmers, the kirk-yard, he was surprised not to stay too late in Ayr marand entertained, through the ribs kets. and arches of an old gothick win The last relation I shall give, dow, which sull faces the highway, though equally true, is not so well to see a dance of witches merrily identified as the two former, with boting it round their old sooty regard to the scene : but as the blackguard master, who was keeping them all alive with the powers Luppen, the Scots participle pas. of bis bag-pipe. The farmer, sive of the verb to leap.

best authorities give it for Aloway, a merchant's wine cellar in BourI shall relate it.

deaux, where, without saying by On a summer's evening, about your leave, they quaffed away at the time that nature puts on her the best the cellar could afford, sables to mourn the expiry of the until the morning, foe to the imps cheerful day, a shepherd boy, be- and works of darkness, threatened longing to a farmer in the imme- to throw light on the matter, and diate neighbourhood of Aloway frightened them from their caKirk, had just folded his charge, rousals. and was returning home. As he The poor shepherd lad, being passed the kirk, in the adjoining equally a stranger to the scene field, he fell in with a crew of men and the liquor, heedlessly got himand women, who were busy in self drunk ; and when the rest pulling stems of the plant ragwort. took horse, he fell asleep, and was He observed, that as each person found so next day by some of the pulled a ragwort, he or she got people belonging to the merchant. astride of it and called out, “ Up Somebody that understood Scotch, horsie !” on which the ragwort asking him what he was, he said flew off, like Pegasus, through the he was such-a-one's herd in Aloair with its rider. The foolish way; and by some means or other boy likewise pulled his ragwort,and getting home again, he lived long eried with the rest “ Up horsie !" to tell the world the wondrous tale. and, strange to tell, away he flew I am, &c. &c. with the company. The first stage

Rob. BURNS. at which the cavalcade stopt, was


For the Anthology.

NO. II. WE continue our observations the pragmatical observations, notes on the elegant perforinance, of and various readings, in twentywhich we commenced the review seven neat folios. But, in the in the last number of the Anthol- present course of remarks, alogy; and it may not be improper though they are intended as nothto give some account of the sys. ing more than the precursor of tem, under which we intend to ar our contemplated edition, we shall range our remarks.

treat the subject, as logically as This poem certainly deserves all possible : we have therefore conthe critick can bestow ; and, al- sidered it most convenient with though our limits will not permit our design, first, to go through us to insert the various notes, &c. this performance by a course of supplementary to this review, yet, analyucul observations, and, when as soon as we can obtain a suf we have obtained a complete view ficient quantity of Hebrew types of the several parts, whereof the for the remarks of Abraham Sheva, subject is composed, to reduce the Jewish annotator, we intend to these several members, by the present á complete edition of all synthetick method, to their orig.

inal combination. . To determine quantity of its für, and even rub. to what order of poetry this per- bing its flesh ; and, as these exis formance belongs, to examine it gencies had not been provided for by the rules of the scholiasts, and by the poet, or, in other words, as to compare it with other produc- they had not been mentioned by tions of the same order, will afford him, he concluded the poem, in abundant matter for a separate toto, a forgery. But, however inessay.

genious, these remarks are answerHaving made this necessary di- ed without any difficulty whatever. gression, we proceed to the review. The German has used in his ob

servations the word, kshriwiosk, The cat's in the fiddle !

which implies a fiddle of an infe Various have been the opinions of riour size ; and all his ingenious the learned, respecting this partic- sophistication is thereby renderular part of our performance. The ed nugatory, for he cannot say, learned critick, whose name is but the fiddle, spoken of by the mentioned at length in the prece- poet, was as capacious, as our lar. ding number, very handsomely re- gest bass-viols, which, from their futes several conjectures, offered sound, one would suppose might to invalidate our poet's antiquity. contain four of the largest ramIt has been questioned by an Ital cats in the country, or their guts ian commentator, whether, or no, at least. But as the German canfiddles were known to the ancients: not speak directly, as to the size of the learned critick replies ; “Stul- the fiddle in question, whether it te, nescis quod ab Anglicanis Fiddle was a violino concertini, ripieno, vocatum est, apud Latinos esse violoncello, or violone, so neither Fidiculam ? Si ignaro tamen,

We therefore relinquish quam distant verba in eorum sonis? this doubtful ground, and assume Nec unquam audivisti, så regrou a new point ; to wit, if we are to idem significasse olim inter Græ- believe, according to the opinion, cos? Cur non rogas, si feles olim advanced in the first number, that vixerunt apud antiquos ?-But the the poem was written in commemmost ingenious objection, against oration of certain miraculous ethe antiquity in question, was made vents, it is impossible to admit any by a German, who wrote com human reasoning in disqualificaments on this poem in 1201 ; tion of the facts, related by the which comments were discovered poet ; and, for the sake of perspi. and published, together with the cuity, we shall form our argument poem itself, by Gutteellberg, at into a direct syllogism, thus ; Mentz, soon after the invention of

Human reason is limited to an investic printing, in 1478. This German,

gation of the nature of things ; whose name was of very great Miracles are not in the nature of things : length, and whose reputation among his countrymen was of Ergo,– Human reason cannot extend to

the investigation of miracles. course very considerable, affirmed, that he had made several exper. We have been brief in refuting the iments, and had satisfied himself, above remarks and conjectures, that it was utterly iinpossible for a because we have considered this kitten, of three days old, to enter subject very copiously in vol. 20. at any aperture about a fiddle, not. 18. pag. 634. of our projected without tearing off a considerable edition.

can we.

The beautiful abruptness, dis- pitch, and we have to contemplate, played in the introduction to the not only the mode of her entrance subject, immediately after the por- into the fiddle, but how she will tion of the poem, reviewed in the come out of it. On the contrary, foregoing number, is, perhaps, in the poem, which some have without its parallel. Here no time pretended to compare with our unis wasted in ridiculous invocations paralleled performance, we have of mere creatures of the mind; nothing to cause our admiration'; neither does the poet consume for it is easy enough to suppose a three or four hundred lines in de cat may be in a well, altuough very scribing the contortions of the cat, wonderful how she could be in a at the time of her entrance into fiddle : and we could not wonder the fiddle. He barely states the long, in the first instance, allowing fact, without any complication of our admiration had been raised; imagery, which, he prudently fore- for the author continues thus ; saw, would unavoidably divert our Who put her in ? attention from the main design. Little John Green. There is a poem, which has been Who pull’d her out ? deservedly celebrated, but which Great John Snout. is certainly very far inferiour to So, we know the whole at once, that under review, although many and our admiration can exist no of the learned have held it in equal longer. In fact, these poems are estimation. I refer to the poem, not of the same class, and it is beginning thus ;

therefore ridiculous for any one to

institute a comparison between Ding-dong, bell! The cat's in the well!

them ; it is absolutely “ Gryphes

cum equis." This does not charm us by its It is truly surprising, that, exabruptness, like

cepting the present, we have no The cat's in the fiddle !

great poem of antiquity, that is not

burdened with an invocation of the although it possesses, in an emi- Muse ; and it is very wonderful, nent degree, all the beauty of ele. that the ancient poets could relate giack composition. But the first nothing of any consequence, with line prepares us for something ex out the assistance of the Gods and tremely solemn, since bells dinge Goddesses. Our author very readong only on the most serious oc- sonably concludes, that he can casions. Dishclouteroff was there- give us the necessary information, fore incorrect in supposing, that that the cat's in the fiddle, without bells could be ding-dong'd for fires invoking any supernatural agent and town-meetings, since ding to assist him in the narration. dong implies a slower motion of Had the poem now before us comthe “ campanæ malleus," than is menced with an invocation of the used on such occasions.

Muses ; had the poet introduced a informed of the singular and won- long and formal proposition of his derful fact, that the cat is in the subject; or had he attempted to fiddle, without anything like describe the various attitudes, ges. premonition ; we are not informed tures, etc. of the cat, at the time how she came there, nor how she of her entrance into the fiddle, will be extricated : our admiration the charm, by which we are now is therefore raised to the highest held in adıniration, could have ex®

Vol. IV. No. Lo Y

IVe are

« PreviousContinue »