Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

copy, two lines that had never been printed. They occurred after “ The landlord's laugh was ready chorus,” and ran thus

“ The cricket joined his chirping cry,

The kittlin' chas'd its tail with joy." Scott remarked in a note that Burns probably rejected them from the resemblance to Goldsmith's “The cricket chirruped on the hearth.”

On another occasion Leslie asked Sir Walter where he should be likely to meet with a haggis. “I don't know a more likely place than the house you are in,” he said. And the next day a haggis appeared on the table. It was placed before Scott, and he greeted it with the first lines of Burns's address to the “Chieftain of the Puddin' Race.” He repeated them with great effect, and at the words “Weel are ye wordy of a grace as lang's my airm ” he extended his arm over the haggis.

GEO. AIKMAN.

sent me.

BURNS RELICS EXTRAORDINARY.

INLAND REVENUE,

Ayr, 6th August, 1902.
I enclose a cucting from Lloyds' Newspaper, which a correspondent has

It would be a labour of Hercules to investigate the thousand and one marvels that are daily brought to light about the great R. B., but it would make the most credulous “Burnsite ” smile to ask him to believe that he presented a silver coffee pot to his Highland Mary. Please note the name Birns. While I am writing you I may mention another funny story in this connection.

In a gentleman's house recently, I was shown a large, handsome sampler in frame, and glass-covered. It was said to have been the work of Isabel Robb, daughter of Annabella Burns, the sister of the Poet. The inscription on the Bolter tombstone states that Annabella died unmarried, but the story of the owner of the sampler is that she was married to Ronald Robb, who lived in a small house opposite Rozelle called Burnhouse. The inscription in the sampler is “ E.G., D.R., M.R., A.R., J.P.,” whatever that may mean.

R. W. MACFADZEAN. P.S.-If the name on the “ Argyle Cup” is “Birns,” he was probably a Cockney critu.

LORD YOUNG'S BOYISH REMINISCENCES

STORIES OF THE BURNS CIRCLE AND OF CARLYLE.

Lord Young, the famous Scottish Judge, was yesterday (June 26th, 1903) presented with the freedom of his native town, Dumfries, and made an extremely interesting speech in replying to the presentation.

Ļord Young, in the course of his address, said : My memory of Dumfries goes back to the time when the widow of the great Poet Burns was still alive. I am one of the few now living who have had her hospitality—such hospitality as the old—I may say certainly elderlywidow could give to a mere boy, to a child ; I have received such hospitality from her in the house where she lived till her death, which was the house in which her husband died. I have got cups of tea from her, and bread and jam from her—(laughter)—and many kind words from her. She survived her husband, I think, until the year 1834 ; and I knew her and her granddaughter who lived with her till her death, and whose daughter—a greatgrand-daughter of the Poet—is, I am glad to tell you, present among us to-day. These are old memories of mine. I knew several —not many— of the great Poet's friends, those with whom he was intimate. I was as well acquainted as a child and a boy could be with Dr Maxwell, who attended him in his illness, his last illness, and at his death. He has attended me in my childhood and my boyhood, and a very picturesque and very interesting man in every way he was. I knew, as a child or a boy could know, another very intimate friend of Burns, Mr Syme of Ryedale, from whom he received a great deal of hospitality-perhaps even excessive hospitality—(laughter)—as I remember to have heard, even in my childhood—in a cottage which was built on the Ryedale property, close to the roadside, and which has often been pointed out to me as a place where these festivities with Burns and other jovial companions took place. Mr Syme of Ryedale was a very interesting man. He was an old gentleman when I saw him and was introduced to him, and an interesting old gentleman, and one heard a great many stories of him. I remember one particularly. I heard it as a boy as characteristic of him. He had been upon the Dock when a man fell into the river when the tide was upapparently a stranger in the place, but he was well dressed, and looked as a man belonging, and probably he did, to the upper classes. A sailor jumped out of one of the coal-boats that used to be frequently there, and saved his life -got him ashore on to the Dock. As soon as he recovered consciousness completely and was able to stand on his legs, he put his hand in his pocket and brought out a shilling, which he gave to the man who had saved his life. (Laughter.) The spectators, who had gathered about, expressed their disapprobation of the generosity which had been bestowed, by something like hissing and hooting ; upon which the sailor—which was the point of the story as Mr Syme told it-said : “Oh, don't behave so to the gentleman ; he knows best what his own life is worth.” (Laughter.) But the story of Mr Syme was, that in relating that anecdote to a party at which a distinguished old doctor in Dumfries was present, when ended it with the point as it occurred to him and probably will occur to most, of the witty sarcasm of the sailor's retort, the doctor said, “ And what did he say to that, sir ?” on which Mr Syme said in vigorous language, which would have delighted Burns I suppose

Oh, the stupid old fool, he does not know a whole story when he hears it.” (Loud laughter.) So one can imagine some of the conversations that took place at these festivities at Ryedale, in the old roadside cottage, which. I believe, stands there still. It was often pointed out to me as the place where these parties were held, and carried on until well into the morning at least.

(Laughter.) Another old memory of mine is of Tom Carlyle. I first saw Tom Carlyle in my father's house, and my father called my attention particularly to his splendid forehead; he had a magni

a

ficent forehead ; it stood

up

like tower, height and breadth also. This was before Carlyle had attained anything like the reputation he had before he died ; but I remember my father saying when he introduced me to him when I was a very young boy—“ Take my word for it, this Mr Carlyle will become a great man in this country.” I was telling this a long time after that event, not many years ago, and I expressed unfortunately the impression which Carlyle's head had made upon me-expressed it figuratively rather. I said it was like a great block of stone hewn out of a quarry. There was a very witty aud humorous young lady present, who made the remark

upon
this—“

-“Well, you know his father was a stone mason.” (Loud laughter.) It showed me how unfortunate figurative language may be. (Laughter.)Glasgow Evening Times.

[ocr errors]

MR SIDNEY LOW ON MR HENLEY. By far the best estimate of W. E. Henley published so far, that contributed by Mr Sidney Low to the Cornhill Magazine. Mr Low was editing the St. James's Gazette when Henley had the National 23server, and as a journalist able to take the measure of things, he indicates with much exactness Henley's real position. Of the famous Stevenson article Mr Low says: “The final savage attack on Mr Graham Balfour’s ‘Life'—the worst, though not the first, assault by Henley on the memory of his dead friend—was hard to pardon. Would Stevenson have pardoned it ?

Stevenson might have made allowance for the angry egotism of the literary temperament, aud the scalding jealousy of the literary friendship,” This is well said, but it is not the whole story by any means. Excellent also are the following remarks: “This fervour and warmth of appreciation was among the traits that made Henley delightful. But, like other discoverers, he sometimes exaggerated the quantity of his own achievement, and ignored the work of other explorers. I believe he had come to regard himself as the 'inventor' of various distinguished men of letters of this era, who would assuredly have attained success if there had been no Henley to encourage them, and no National Observer. He vastly overestimated and so I note have many other people since his death, his share in the making of Stevenson's literary fame. It is absurd to say that ‘R. L. S.' owed anything substantial to such advertisement and opportunities as it was in Henley's power to give him. The great reading public of England and America, who were first attracted by · Treasure Island,' and then found themselves captivated by one masterpiece after another, till the splendid series ended with the broken column of 'Weir of Hermiston'—these people, for the most part, had never heard of Henley, and of the journals and articles he produced for the benefit of a minute literary coterie in London. No Na'ional Observer, no journalistic fly-posting, was needed, to spread the fame of the man who could write ‘Dr Jekyll' and 'Kidnapped.' But I do not think Henley ever quite understood this. In his later days, especially, worn and old, and drifted into a backwater, he was apt to magnify the importance of his editorial career. It is a common habit with gentlemen who have been, and have ceased to be, editors of journals with some pretension to influence. To have sat conspicuously in the seat of judgment; to have it in your power to reward merit and damn incompetence, loading one author or politician with honour, and ordering another to the scaffold or the vivisection chamber; to have, or think you have, the power of life and death over the new book that steals trembling into your presence; to spend your life accepting, rejecting, praising, condemning--all this does undoubtedly tend to ubris, and more perhaps in the recollection than the act. The editor on the retired list remembers that he was once a cloud compeller, and forgets thai his thunderbolts never really shook the spheres. Henley was undoubtedly hubristical, and even beyond the average of his craft. And when the fledglings of his nest emerged, and found their wings, and soared into the sunlight of public applause, he was inclined to take the credit of the flight to himself, and was sometimes jealous and irritably pettish if the obligation was not admitted."

Nothing could be more true. To Henley, Stevenson owed nothing in comparison with what Henley owed to him. As I have said before this, Stevenson was in the first instance discovered by the Americans. It was from them that he first received large prices for his work. This is not to deny that Stevenson had many discerning admirers in this country before Henley was ever heard of. They did their best, and after “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” was published, they found little difficulty in their path. As for the motion that a critic or editor can do much for an author it is ridiculous. All that can be done is to hasten by a little the day of recognition. Macaulay took particular delight in Bentley's fine apothegm : “No man was ever written down save by himself.” It is equally true that no man was ever written up save by himself. Stevenson had very little help from his own friends of the Savile Club in the days when he would have been thankful for good notices in the Saturday Review. He did very well all the same. --British Weekly, Sept. 3rd, 1903.

THE BELFAST EDITION OF BURNS MR ANDREW GIBSON, Belfast, writes the following letter to The Literary World :“One of the matters in the “ Table Talk” department of your current number is an account of certain “Burns” and “Burnsiana” objects which are said to have been recently added to the new museum, Alloway Cottage, near Ayr, including a “pirated facsimile of the first edition of his (the Poet's) works, printed in Kilmarnock, 1786, and published in Belfast by James Mayee in 1787.'

The portion quoted is entirely erroneous. No person of the name of Mayee' ever existed as a publisher in Belfast ; no facsimile of the Kilmarnock edition of 1786 was published in Belfast in 1787, or in any later year ; and no such facsimile anywhere else appeared until the publication of the one produced by James M‘Kie, Kilmarnock, in 1867.

What did issue from the Belfast press in 1787 was the following free-trade duodecimo edition, with a frontispiece portrait of the poet, engraved by Halpin, and with an 'Extract from the Lounger, No.97, lately published in Edinburgh': : 'Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns. Belfast": Printed and Sold by James Magee, No. 9 Bridge Street. M.DCC.LXXXVII.”

A copy of this extremely rare edition is in the ‘Gibson Collection of Burns

6

and- Bursiana,' a collection embracing more than 2000 volumes, which has lately been acquired for free reference in the Belfast Library and Society for Promoting Knowledge, commonly known as the Linen Hall Library.

The edition is, however, not even an ordinary reprint of the Kilmarnock edition of 1786' or of the first Edinburgh (“Skinking') edition of 1787. It is only a reprint of the second Edinburgh ("Stinking) impression, or of the London (' Third') edition of 1787, printed in Edinburgh. But it has the distinction of being the first edition of the poems of Robert Burns printed out of Scotland.

Simultaneously with the publication in Belfast, the edition was published in Dublin, with the title page bearing the substituted imprint—Dublin : Printed for William Gilbert, Great George's Street, M.DCCC. I.XXXVII.' A copy of this other issue, equally scarce, is also in the.' Gibson collection.

The copy recently added to the new museum, Alloway Cottage, near Ayr, is that of the herein accurately-deseribed Belfast edition ; and Burns collectors will be saved an infinity of trouble by the prompt correction of a very misleading statement, which is being further circulated in the columns of the daily newspapers. —[Belfast Evenin, Telegraph, 19th April, 1901).

DISPOSAL OF THE CRAIBE ANGUS COLLECTION.

The principal part of the Craibe Angus collection of Burnsiana came under the hammer in Dowell's Roomsf Edinburgh, yesterday (Dec. 9th, 1902). When proceedings began at noon there was a large attendance of Edinburgh and Glasgow dealers. The earlier lots had little value apart from their place in the collection or the autographs which they bore on their title-pages. When a copy of the first issue of the first edition of “The Letters to Clarinda” was put up a spirited competition took place for its possession. The edition was suppressed after publication, and the book, beautifully bound by Zaehnsdorf, of London, and as clean as when it was issued, was ultimately knocked down for £13 ios. A copy of the first American edition of the letters fetched £ 5. What to the uninitiated was regarded as the chief item of the sale was reached shortly after noon. Having in view the record price of £ 572 bid in the same place in 1898 for a perfect copy of the 1786 Kilmarnock edition of the poet's works, there was some natural curiosity as to the state of the market with respect to a less perfect copy of the original issue of Burns's poems. The book, which was no part of the late Mr Craibe Angus's collection, has had the title repaired, and has been bound in crimson morocco by MacLehose. Bidding was started at £ 50. Another sovereign was offered, and a similar advance was intimated by the original bidder. The competition broke down at that point, and the lot was knocked down to Mr James Bishop, of Leith, for Mr Dinwoody, of Minneapolis, for £ 52. A splendid copy of the second, or Edinburgh, edition, having the autograph of Roberı Browning upon the titlepage, brought £28, and an uncut copy, bound in Spanish morocco, and bearing the autograph of Robert Louis Stevenson, fetched £12 ios. Lord

« PredošláPokračovať »