Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

mediocrity—their author betrays less of the dominating influence of his great predecessor than perhaps any subsequent Scottish singer ; while in spirit, he approaches him nearer than any. We cannot now dwell on the remaining section of the volume, which consists of poems published in America, and many others which, in a collected form, have not hitherto seen the light. All who cling to the vernacular and believe in its power of expression should procure the book and read and study for themselves, and thus become acquainted with the life and works of a gifted, genial and enthusiastic master of the “braid Scots” tongue. Two admirable portraits of Hew Ainslie, one in youth and one in age, set his likeness before the reader, and make the book more interesting; while it is still further embellished by profiles of the three Pilgrims, and skilful reproductions of three engravings which appeared in the original edition of the "Pilgrimage," representing respectively Alloway Kirk, the Auld Brig, and Mauchline Kirk in the time of Burns. Mr. Gardner has fully sustained the reputation of the Paisley press, by the enterprising issue of a volume, which, by its outward elegance, clear typography, and valuable contents, lays Scotsmen under obligations which they will best discharge by placing it next to Burns in their collection of the Scottish poets.

JOHN NEWLANDS.

BURNS: THE NATIONAL BARD AND THE TEM

PERANCE REFORMER OF HIS AGE. BY JOHN
PATON, BARRHEAD.

T

HIS pamphlet is the production of a thoroughly original

mind. Mr Paton, himself a life-long abstainer and

temperance lecturer, is conscientiously convinced that the writings of Burns are not only all upon the side of temperance, but that they were the first substantial contribution to the literature of the question in Scotland. To their influence upon the popular mind he attributes much of the progress that teetotal principles have made amongst the masses during the course of the present century, and though Burns is often quoted as upholding the other side of the question, such quotations do him injustice, inasmuch as they ignore the whole tenor of his teaching, and are entirely misleading when divorced from the context, or their leading motive misinterpreted. “Burns," says the author, “contrasts the people's heroic toil, temperance, and economy, with the drunken, wasteful, debauched, miserable existence of the nobility—and their sober, affectionate, peaceful, devout Saturday nights, with the drunken, careless, sensual revelry at beggars' lodging-houses. In these contrasts he presents the certainty of progress and national stability, with the certainty of retrogression and national decay. The sober, toiling, thrifty poor are the life of the nation : its health, growth, and vigour depend on them : this is the gospel Burns preached for Scotland's sake.'

The time has surely now come when the attitude of Burns to his country and to the obstacle that retards its progress can be asserted and vindicated.” The mission of the Bard was to display and magnify the spirit of industrialism in the moral grandeur which sustains the toiler for independence. If he himself fell short of his own ideal, the environment of his life and times accounts for all his imperfections. Drinking was a universal custom in his day; so much so that it had contaminated even the ceremonies of public devotion; and in that and many other of its manifestations the national vice received from him its death-blow. It was the savage hospitality" of "private parties in the family way"

The pam

that did the poet so much mischief in Dumfries. “They would not have my company if I did not drink with them,” Burns himself writes, “and I must give them a slice of my constitution.” It is on these lines that Mr Paton argues his case. phlet is well written and closely reasoned, characteristics all the more remarkable when it is considered that Mr Paton is a selftaught man. He never was at school, and though now considerably over threescore and ten, his pen is as trenchant and his tongue as eloquent as in the days of his fullest vigour. We cannot help thinking that he would have done better by issuing his booklet from the Scottish press, a hint, we hope he will profit by in a second edition. A few copies of the first, we believe, are still on hand, and may be had direct from the author. It should find a place on all Burnsiana bookshelves, and will well repay perusal.

NOTES AND QUERIES.

“VISITORS TO Burns's COTTAGE IN 1892.-During the year ending October, Burns's Cottage was visited by 28,240 persons, as against 27,545 last year, being an increase of 695, and about 4000 in excess of the number for 1890. A somewhat singular coincidence was noticed in that the number of visitors this year from ist January till 17th September was exactly the same as during the period in the preceding year, the number on each occasion being 25,699. The week in which the largest number of persons are recorded as entering the cottage was the Glasgow Fair holiday week, in July, when 3,588 paid for admission; while the day with the largest number of visitors was the Fair Monday of that week, when 1,327 persons passed the turnstiles. These figures in each instance show a slight diminution as compared with the abnormally large attendance of 1891. The second largest day was the Glasgow spring holiday (April 4), when there were 1,073 visitors. During the months of June, July, and August, there was an incessant flow of American tourists; indeed, if the battalions sent down by St. Mungo at the holiday season are left out of account, it may be safely stated that during the period named our friends hailing from the other side of the Atlantic constituted the larger proportion of the “pilgrims.” There was a fair sprinkling of English tourists, but very few from the “Sister Isle”—a casual glance at the visitors' book revealing only a couple from Dublin "on a bicycle tour through bonnie Scotland.” The Lord High Constables of Edinburgh visited the cottage on 7th July ; Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir William Arrol, of Forth Bridge fame, were at the poet's shrine in August ; and on 5th October the following entries occur :-"Andrew Carnegie, New York, and youngest burgess of Ayr” and “Louise W. Carnegie.” One gentleman, very particular as to his identity, notifies that he is the author of "Woodland and Shingle,” &c.; while a zealous Dunoon politician is careful to append to his signature the significant letters "G.L.” Strange to say there is only one poetic effusion in the book, and that, too, the work of an Ayrshire man. Here it is :

Hail ! Scotland's bard, and greatest son,
Thy rich, sweet song has touched each one ;
A manly spirit, thou dids't teach,

Was in the scope of all men's reach. Regarding the Monument, the number of visitors registered monthly was as follows :-October (1891), 1,420; November, 101; December, 92 ; January (1892), 223 ; February, 94 ; March, 180; April, 2,781; May, 1,680 ; June, 5,630 ; July, 13,312 ; August, 8,658; September, 3,943 ; giving a total of 38,114. The largest number of visitors on one day was 2,232. This was on the Glasgow Fair Monday, and is a record so far as the Monument is concerned. On the Glasgow Fair Saturday the number of visitors was 1,567."

UNPUBLISHED LETTER OF BURNS.—The following letter, in the Poet's hand, I transcribed in New Zealand. I cannot discover any printed copy of it :

“ DEAR SIR, -Any more letters for me that may come to your care, send them to Dumfries, directed to be detained till called for.-I mean this direction only for a week; afterwards direct to me at Mossgiel, near Mauchline :-To-day I set out for a ride thro' Northumberlandshire. I beg you or Mr. Creech will acquaint me whenever he returns.-I am, Dear Sir, yours,

ROBERT BURNS. Berrywell, 24th May, 1787.

P.S.-I recd a bill from Mr. Pattison, which he has wrote to you about. -My letter granting receipt had miscarried, but I have wrote him again to-day.-R. B.

Mr. Hill, at Mr. Creech's shop, Edinburgh. - Bears postmark thus : DUNSE."

(£10 paid by the Caledonian Society of Christchurch, Canterbury, N.Z., for the above letter in May, 1884.-Ed.)

[D. S.] UNPUBLISHED NOTE OF BURNS.—The following interesting note in the handwriting of Burns is in the collection of George Esdaile, Esq., Platt-in-Rush, Ohio. On a piece of paper, 576 in. by 4 in., is written the following memo. :

“Please send me by the Bearer, my servt., a bar of shoeing iron, which place to acct. of [2/9.]-Gentlemen, your very humble servt.,

ROBERT BURNS. Ellisland, October 8th, 1790.

To Messrs Cr...bies & Co.,

Merchts., Dumfries.”

« PredošláPokračovať »