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near him at Ellisland, mentions that “ his face was deeply marked by thought, and the habitual expression intensely melancholy." My constitution and frame," says Burbs himself, “ were, ab origine, blasted with a deep incurable taintlof hypochondria, which poisobs my existence.3 11 And again, in a letter to Mrs Dunlop:i«. There is a foggy atmosphere native to my soul in the hour of cares consequently the dreary objects seum larger than life." He always looked forward with gloomy anticipations to the future, and dreaded la time when he should return to his primitive obscurity. The temperament of genius, it may be remarked, adds strength to the causes of hypochondria; for, by the laws of physiology, every transport of inspiration is followed by a corresponding depression of mind.
The organ of Benevolence is very largely developed. This feeling was strong in Burns, and was one of his grand redeeming virtues." Its effusions frequently occur in his correspondence. In a letter to Mr Hill, he says: ** Mankind are by nature be: nevolent creatures. 1.
There are in every age a few souls that all the wants and woes of life cannot debasel to sel, fishness, or even to the necessary alloy of caution and prudence. If I am in danger of vanity, it is when I contemplate myself on this side of my disposition and character. God knows I am no saint; I have a whole host of sins and follies to answer for, but if I could, and I believe I do it as far as I can, I would wipe away all tears from all eyes."| Professor Stewart says: “I rew collect he once told me, when I was admiring a distant prost pect in one of our morning walks, that the sight of so many smoking cottages gave a pleasure to his mind, which none could understand who had not witnessed, like himself, the happiness and the worth which they contained." * His charities," says Mr Gray, " were great beyond his means." In particular, he shewed great kindness to the harmless imbecile creatures about Dumfries. (See Cunningham, p. 271.) It is believed by some phrenologists, * that Pbiloprogenitiveness gives sympathy for weak and helpless objects in general, and directs Benevolence in an especial manner to these. The doctrine certainly receives confirmation from the head of Burns. He could not bear to see a bird robbed of her young; he spared and bewailed the fate of the mouse whose dwelling was upturned by his plough ; and the verses written on seeing a wounded hare pass by, are expressive of the strongest compassion. His feelings on the latter occasion wcre a remarkable combination of Benevolence and Destructiveness ; two feelings which, though antagonists, by no means neutralize each other, but may be simultaneously in a state of high excitement. The poem is compounded of the language of imprecation and pity, in almost equal proportions ; • Phren. Journ. ii. 495, 499, and viïi. 394.
" Inhuman man! curse on thy barb'rous art,
And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye:
May never pity soothe thee with a sigh,
The bitter little that of life remains :
No more of rest, but now thy dying bed!
The sheltering rushes whistling o'er thy head,
The sober eve, or hail the cheerful dawn,
I'll miss thee sporting o'er the dewy lawn,
And curse the ruffian's aim, and mourn thy hapless fate," The individual who thus received the malediction of Barns for the very common offence of shooting a hare, related to Allan Cunningham the circumstances from which this poem took its rise. “ The hares," he said, “ often' came and nibbled our wheat.braird; and once, in the gloaming—it was in April-I shot at one, and wounded her; she ran bleeding by Burns, who was pacing up and down by himself, not far from me. He started, and with a bitter curse ordered me out of his sight, or he would instantly throw me into the Nith. And had I stayed, I’ll warrant he would have been as good as his word, though I was both young and strong.” (Lockhart, p. 199.)
It was Benevolence which made Burns, in the stormy nights of winter,' bethink him on “ the owrie cattle and silly sheep;" and lament the cheerless condition of the little birds which in milder seasons delighted him with their song.
Some may be surprised to be told that Veneration was a powerful sentiment in Burns. That such was the case, however, there seems to be no room for doubt.
The feeling was there, though its direction was not, in all respects, the one which it commonly takes. In early youth, as he tells in his letter to Dr Moore, he was a good deal noted for an enthusiastic idiot piety;" and he afterwards studied with great avidity those excellent works, Derham's Physico and Astro-Theology, and Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation. Professor Stewart says, “He had a very strong sense of religion, and expressed deep regret at the levity with which he had heard it treated occasionally in some convivial meetings which he frequented.” Allan Cunningham states, that at Ellisland " he performed family worship every evening.” (Lockhart, p. 193.) It was chiefly of natural religion that Burns was an admirer; for it is well known that he entertained sceptical opinions. The Old Light Clergy heartily disgusted him; and he rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of original sin, and the eternal punishment of the wicked. But his Wonder and Veneration being large, he had naturally a leaning towards things invisible,* and both in bis letters and in his memoranda makes very frequent allusions to the Deity.
“My idle reasonings," he says, " sometimes make me a little sceptical, but the necessities of my heart always give the cold philosophisings the lie.". The cold philosophisings, however, at times bore the ascendeney; and he seems to have had strong doubts of the existence of a future state. Here the relative deficiency of his Hope is apparent. “I bate," says he, in a letter to Mr Cunningham, “ I hate a man that wishes to be a deist, but I fear, every fair unprejudiced irquirer must in some degree be a sceptic. It is not that there are any very staggering arguments against the immortality of man; but, like electricity, phlogiston, &c., the subject is so involved in darkness, that we want data to go upon. One thing frightens me much; that we are to live for ever seems too good neze's to be true. That we are to enter into a new scene of existence, where, exempt from want and pain, we shall enjoy ourselves and our friends without satiety or separation--how much should I be indebted to any one who could fully assure me that this was certain !". His religious creed is thus stated in another of his letters :-“ Your thoughts on religion shall be welcome. You may perhaps distrust me when I say it is also my favourite topic; but mine is the religion of the bosom. I hate the very idea of controversial divinity; as I firmly believe that every honest upright man, of whatever sect, will be accepted of the Deity.” “ I despise the superstition of a fanatic, but I love the religion of a man."Burgs's Veneration was displayed in his strong jacobitical feeling, and his reverence for Sir. William Wallace. He did not venerate many of his contemporaries, as he thought himself at least the equal of most of them. But men of high rank who showed him attention, he regarded with much respect. No one, however powerful bis Veneration may be, ever reveres those whom, under the influence of other faculties, he despises or dislikes. This faculty was doubtless the source of the emotion which he displayed on visiting the tomb of Bruce at Dunfermline. Finally, it is improbable that without naturally strong religious feelings, Burns could have been the author of The Cotter's Saturday Night.
• “ To this hour, in my nocturnal rambles, I sometimes keep a sharp look. out in suspicious looking places, and though nobody can be more sceptical than I am in such matters (devils, ghosts, witches, &c.) yet it often takes an effort of philosophy to shake off these idle terrors."-(Letter to Dr Moore.) To his friend, `Alexander Cunningham, he declares his conviction that there exist “senses of the mind, if I may be allowed the expression, which connect us with, and link us to, those awful obscure realities—an all-powerful and equally beneficent God, and a world to come beyond death and the grave.
The portrait of Burns seems to indicate a large development of Firmness; but in the cast of his skull, the organ has by no means a marked appearance. A large developnient of Firmness gives a tendency to persist'in purpose, opinion, and conduct. From its activity result perseverance, steadiness, and resolution. So far as I am able to judge, Burns was rather deficient in those qualities. **“ The' fervour of his passions," says Mrs Riddell, “ was fortunately tempered by their versatility. He was seldom, never' indeed, implacable in his resentments; and sometimes, it has beet' alleged, not inviolably steady in his engagements of friendship. Much, indeed, has been said of his inconstaney and caprices. The rapidity with which his schemes were generally abandoned, may justly be regarded as an illustration of this feature of his character. A letter from Dr Blacklock, for example, received when he was on the road to Greenock, with the intențion of sailing to Jamaica, instantly overthrew his plans, and sent him with almost breathless speed to Edinburgh. He had just written to a friend, " Against two things I am fixed as fate, -staying at home, and owning Jean conjugally. The first, by heaven, I will not do !--the last, by hell, I will never do!" Yet, when the lovers met, the second of these “ fixed” resolutions terminated by his giving Jean a written acknowledgment of their marriage !--Firmness is of great use in enabling men of strong passions to witlistand their cravings for indulgence, and reduce virtuous resolutions to practice. Burns was certainly not distinguished here.
Conscientiousness is in nearly the same condition as Firmness. This feeling was well cultivated in youth by his father, who was a very sagacious, honest, intelligent, and pious man. It was quite sufficient to render him honest and candid when no contending impulse was present, and also to make him aware of his imperfections; bụt it wanted power to restrain the vehemence of his lower feelings within the bounds of candour and justice. “ There is nothing in the whole frame of man,” he says, " which seems to me so unaccountable as that thing called conscience. Had the troublesome yelping cur powers efficient to prevent a mischief, he might be of use; but, at the beginning of the business, his feeble efforts are to the workings of passion as the infant frosts of an autumnal morning to the unclouded fervour of the rising sun; and no sooner are the tumultuous doings of the wicked deed over, than, amidst the bitter native consequences of folly, in the very vortex of our horrors, up starts conscience, and barrows us with the feelings of the damned.”
Ideality-the principal organ of poetical feeling—is large; though, as might have been anticipated from the degree in which he manifested most of the intellectual faculties, it is equalled in size by many of the other organs. Burns's love of the sublime and beautiful was very strong. His temperament was that which is best adapted for the experience of poetical feeling. He was passionately fond of the beauties of nature, but it was in the dreary, solemn, desolate sublime that he seems to have delighted most. Such a taste I have repeatedly found possessed by individuals with large Destructiveness, Cautiousness, and Ideality, moderate Hope, and a susceptible temperament. Burns was especially fond of the season of winter. “ This, I believe," says he,“ may be partly owing to my misfortunes giving my mind a melancholy cast ; but there is something even in the
Mighty tempest and the hoary waste,
Abrupt and dead, stretched o'er the buried earth,' which raises the mind to a serious sublimity, favourable to every thing great and noble.* There is scarcely any earthly object gives me more I do not know if I should call it pleasure-but something which exalts me, something which enraptures me,than to walk in the sheltered side of a wood or high plantation, in a cloudy winter day, and hear the stormy wind howling among the trees, and raving over the plain. It is my best season for devotion : my mind is wrapped up in a kind of enthusiasm to Him, who, in the pompous language of the Hebrew bard, ' walks on the wings of the wind." The enthusiasm here mentioned
" results from activity of Ideality, Wonder, and Veneration. Addison's Vision of Mirza, a production full of Ideality, captivated Burns, as he himself tells us, “ before he was capable of fixing an idea to a word of three syllables." In many of his poems, but particularly the Address to Mary in Heaven, he manifests a degree of Ideality which contrasts strongly with the coarseness of his satirical effusions, produced under the influence of far different feelings.
Burns was less remarkable for wit than for humour. The former is well described by Lockhart as a “ peculiar vein of sly homely wit.” Humour depends on the organs of Secretiveness, * In the Vision, Burns makes Coila address him as follows:
" I saw thee seek the sounding shore,
Delighted with the dashing roar ;
Drove through the sky,
Struck thy young eye.”
“ Or when the deep-green mantled earth
Warm cherished every flow'ret's birth,
In every grove,
With boundless love."