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of Johnson's paradox, tolerable enough for once in speech, but which need not have been so often adopted in print since then, we rather believe that good men deal sparingly in hatred, either wise or unwise: nay, that a 'good' hater is still a desideratum in this 5 world. The Devil, at least, who passes for the chief and best of that class, is said to be nowise an amiable character.
Of the verses which Indignation makes, Burns has also given us specimens: and among the best that 10 were ever given. Who will forget his 'Dweller in yon Dungeon dark'; a piece that might have been chanted by the Furies of Eschylus° ? The secrets of the infernal Pit are laid bare; a boundless, baleful 'darkness visible'; and streaks of hell-fire quivering madly 15 in its black haggard bosom !
Dweller in yon Dungeon dark,
Why should we speak of Scots wha hae wi Wallace bled; since all know of it, from the king to the meanest of his subjects? This dithyrambic was composed 25
on horseback; in riding in the middle of tempests, over the wildest Galloway moor, in company with a Mr. Syme, who, observing the poet's looks, forbore to speak, judiciously enough, for a man composing Bruce's Address might be unsafe to trifle with. Doubtless this stern hymn was singing itself, as he formed it, through the soul of Burns: but to the external ear, it should be sung with the throat of the whirlwind. So long as there is warm blood in the 10 heart of Scotchman or man, it will move in fierce thrills under this war-ode; the best, we believe, that was ever written by any pen.
Another wild stormful Song, that dwells in our ear and mind with a strange tenacity, is Macpherson's 15 Farewell. Perhaps there is something in the tradition itself that coöperates. For was not this grim Celt, this shaggy Northland Cacus, that lived a life of sturt and strife, and died by treacherie,' was not he too one of the Nimrods and Napoleons of the 20 earth, in the arena of his own remote misty glens, for want of a clearer and wider one? Nay, was there not a touch of grace given him? A fibre of love and softness, of poetry itself, must have lived in his sav
age heart: for he composed that air the night before 25 his execution; on the wings of that poor melody his
better soul would soar away above oblivion, pain, and all the ignominy and despair, which, like an avalanche, was hurling him to the abyss! Here also, as at Thebes, and in Pelops' line, was material Fate matched against man's Free-will; matched in bitter-5 est though obscure duel; and the ethereal soul sank not, even in its blindness, without a cry which has survived it. But who, except Burns, could have given words to such a soul; words that we never listen to without a strange half-barbarous, half-poetic fellow- 10 feeling?
Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
Sae dauntingly gaed he;
He play'd a spring and danced it round,
Under a lighter disguise, the same principle of Love, which we have recognized as the great characteristic of Burns, and of all true poets, occasionally manifests itself in the shape of Humor. Everywhere, indeed, in his sunny moods, a full buoyant flood of mirth rolls 20 through the mind of Burns; he rises to the high, and stoops to the low, and is brother and playmate to all Nature. We speak not of his bold and often irresistible faculty of caricature; for this is Drollery rather than Humor: but a much tenderer sportfulness 25
dwells in him; and comes forth here and there, in evanescent and beautiful touches; as in his Address to the Mouse, or the Farmer's Mare, or in his Elegy on poor Mailie, which last may be reckoned his hap5 piest effort of this kind. In these pieces there are traits of a Humor as fine as that of Sterne; yet altogether different, original, peculiar, the Humor of Burns.
Of the tenderness, the playful pathos, and many Io other kindred qualities of Burns's Poetry, much more might be said; but now, with these poor outlines of a sketch, we must prepare to quit this part of our subject. To speak of his individual Writings, adequately and with any detail, would lead us far beyond our 15 limits. As already hinted, we can look on but few of these pieces as, in strict critical language, deserving the name of Poems: they are rhymed eloquence, rhymed pathos, rhymed sense; yet seldom essentially melodious, aërial, poetical. Tam o' Shanter itself, 20 which enjoys so high a favor, does not appear to us at all decisively to come under this last category. It is not so much a poem, as a piece of sparkling rhetoric; the heart and body of the story still lies hard and dead. He has not gone back, much less carried 25 us back, into that dark, earnest, wondering age, when
the tradition was believed, and when it took its rise; he does not attempt, by any new-modelling of his supernatural ware, to strike anew that deep mysterious chord of human nature, which once responded to such things; and which lives in us too, and will for- 5 ever live, though silent now, or vibrating with far other notes, and to far different issues. Our German readers will understand us, when we say, that he is not the Tieck° but the Musäus of this tale. Externally it is all green and living; yet look closer, it is 10 no firm growth, but only ivy on a rock. The piece does not properly cohere: the strange chasm which yawns in our incredulous imaginations between the Ayr public-house and the gate of Tophet, is nowhere bridged over, nay, the idea of such a bridge is laughed 15 at; and thus the Tragedy of the adventure becomes a mere drunken phantasmagoria, or many-colored spectrum painted on ale-vapors, and the Farce alone has any reality. We do not say that Burns should have made much more of this tradition; we rather 20 think that, for strictly poetical purposes, not much was to be made of it. Neither are we blind to the deep, varied, genial power displayed in what he has actually accomplished; but we find far more 'Shakespearean' qualities, as these of Tam o' Shanter have 25