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Knockmaroon; Mrs. Thomson Sinclair, Mr. George Gray, Mr. B. B. Macgeorge, Mr. C. C. Maxwell, the Mitchell Library, and many other private owners, gave a unique interest to the
Two specially valuable exhibits were "The Edinburgh Commonplace Book of Robert Burns, beginning 9th April, 1787," lent by Mr. George A. M'Millan, and "The Commonplace Book of Robert Burns, 1783-85," lent by Mr. W. Law, Littleborough. The correspondence of Burns with George Thomson, containing, in the Poet's autograph, the most celebrated of his songs, was lent by the Earl of Dalhousie, and the Irvine Burns Club was well to the front with its unique portfolio of rare manuscripts. The Earl of Rosebery was a most generous exhibitor. A manuscript of "Tam o' Shanter," not written, but corrected by, Robert Burns, had a strong interest of its own, on account of its having belonged to Sir Walter Scott, and having an inscription on it in Sir Walter's handwriting. The MS. was lent from the Abbotsford Library. A most interesting MS. was that of "The Gentle Shepherd," lent by Mr. W. Moir Bryce, of Edinburgh.
The editorial scissors would be applied were I to try to describe minutely all the manuscripts-suffice it to say that they were the strong attraction of the Exhibition.
Of books there were catalogued nearly 1500 entries, and uncatalogued books lay in the cases below ". as thick as leaves in Vallambrosa." It was a bewildering show-the very sight of which was enough to stir a Scotsman's heart with pride. There are veritably more editions of Burns than of Shakespeare! The editions hailed from nearly every part of Great Britain. If Edinburgh and Glasgow were prolific in producing them, so, too, were London and Newcastle, Dublin and Belfast! The lands beyond the seas have added their contributions, and foreigners have done their best to make Burns plain to foreign readers.
The completeness of the book section was largely due to the exertions of Mr. Craibe Angus, and among the chief contributors to this department were Mr. Angus himself, Mr. Andrew Gibson, of Belfast; Dr. Patterson, Glasgow; the Mitchell Library, Mr. A. J. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Wm. Jacks, Mr. George Gray, Mr. M'Naught Campbell, Lord Rosebery, M. B. B. Macgeorge, Mr. John M'Millan, and Mr. James Falconer,
I could easily extend this notice for pages more, for, with the unexhausted wealth of material still to my hand, I feel in wandering mazes lost, with endless new prospects opening before me for comment and commendation. Words are vain! Only he who has seen and studied the Exhibition—even as a non-expert can estimate the full value of the testimony it bore to the hold of Burns upon Scotland and the great heart of the civilised world. R. W.
Books intended for review must be in the hands of the Editor by
THE HERITAGE OF BURNS,
W. ROBERTSON TURNBULL.
HADDINGTON: WILLIAM SINCLAIR, 63 Market Street.
THIS is one of the most remarkable contributions to Burns literature since Carlyle summed up the personality and poetry of the Scottish Bard for the instruction of the shoal of critics who have exercised their minds with the problem of Burns from that day to this. It is a work of comparative criticism of a kind not often met with. Sound judgment, clear insight, profound scholarship, and a graceful and incisive style are its leading features. Apart from the main theme, it is a most admirable summary of Scottish literature from the fifteenth century to the close of the eighteenth, interspersed with side allusions, which are as delightful and instructive to the reader as convincing of the culture and wide range of reading of the author. The work may be described as a series of inter-dependent essays, leading up to one conclusion, and still capable of being judged separately as intellectual achievements on the various heads under which they are arranged. In the first chapter, "In Praise and Blame," the critics of Burns, from Heron to Henley, are criticised in masterly style, their excellencies pointed out, and their faults ruthlessly exposed. From this class, he judiciously selects three-Lockhart, Wilson, and Carlyle-as having between them said all that can be said of Burns to constitute an estimate of abiding truth and power. The "Politics and Poetry of the Eighteenth Century" follows as introduction to "The Scottish Renaissance," which again is followed by "The Dawn of Naturalism -From Ramsay to Burns," the whole culminating in "The New Era Burns," in which the author analyses the genius of the Scottish Poet, and awards him one of the highest niches in the Temple of Fame on his own merits, rightly declining to institute comparisons, for the all-sufficient reason that the uniqueness of Burns renders comparison impossible. Burns's relations to Ramsay and Fergusson, and his indebtedness to both, are presented in a way that is at once both just and true, while the link of succession to the truly national poets of Scotland, rather than to the Anglo-Scottish mongrels who degraded the Scottish Muse by deferring to the artificial models of the Southron, is discovered, and the rust of time rubbed off. Burns is represented as the fullest expression of a well-rounded literature, already in existence at the date of his birth, and the author carefully distinguishes between the Poet's own natural endowment and the heritage bequeathed to him by his predecessors -Henryson, Dunbar, Montgomerie, Ramsay, and Fergusson. The only fault we have to find with Mr. Turnbull's splendid effort, if fault it is, is that it is too elaborate and recondite to suit the popular taste in this hurry-scurry age. To the Burns student it is bound to prove a source of perennial delight, a never-failing well of inspiration, an inexhaustible mine of information. He who runs and reads can dip into any part and find enough to satisfy without effort, while the Burns enthusiast, impatient alike of historical circumstance and cold-blooded criticism, may satisfy his most perfervid desires by perusing the concluding chapters. Those who decry the Poet will also find much to interest them, for the
balance of the destructive and constructive is held in perfect equipoise throughout the volume. "The Heritage," we venture to predict, will take a high place amongst Burns classics, and it behoves every student of Scottish literature to place it on his shelves.
The binding and typography of the volume reflects the highest credit on the provincial press of Haddington. We congratulate both author and publisher on having produced a work that is certain to be red-lettered among the productions of the Death Centenary.
OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER, Edinburgh and London. THE luxuriant crop of Lives of Burns within the last decade might well deter any man from entering the field, not so much from fear of competitors, as the consideration whether he has anything to say by way of justification for his appearance as a Burns author. As the writer selected by the publishers of the "Famous Scots Series" to do honour to the National Bard, Mr. Setoun (under which pseudonym we recognise Mr. Hepburn, teacher, Edinburgh), was under no pressing necessity to deliberate on the feasibility of a venture that had already been resolved upon. Judging from the character of the accomplished work, however, it is abundantly evident that Mr. Setoun was impressed with a due sense of the responsibility resting upon him, and the necessity of making his work as fresh, complete, and attractive as possible. The prevailing vices of presentday Burns biographers are a hankering after new facts and unrecorded anecdotes, however trivial their import, and a tendency to lose themselves and their subject in the euphonious verbiage of carefully laboured periods. Mr. Setoun is free of both. Neither is he overweighted with the traditions of his position, which have settled down in too many recent instances into a conventionalism, which precludes everything but a mere ringing of the changes, and in comparison with which the hysterical heroics of La Galliene and the cutaneous scarifying of Henley are positively refreshing. Mr. Setoun is careful in garnering his facts, logical and independent in his conclusions. The Clarinda episode, for instance, he treats with originality, force, and fearlessness. remarked by Sheriff Campbell Smith, at Dundee, Burns suffered as much from contact with "foolish women as with wicked men. No good end, therefore, can be served by dismissing any side influence on his career with a mere shrug of the shoulders, for no better reason than it has been done before, or because the task of examination is disagreeable. The modern critic has no mercy on the prime actor; why, then, should the subordinates be allowed to go scot-free? All through the work there is a freshness and virility of thought that captivates the reader, and compels him to read the oft-told tale because of the new light with which it is illuminated. The summing up of Burns, the man, and Burns, the Poet, is eminently unpre judiced and sympathetic. Mr. Setoun has already made his mark in other walks of literature, and we earnestly trust that the brilliant talents and purity of style which he undoubtedly possesses will again be utilised on the theme that is ever dear to every patriotic Scotsman.
ROBERT BURNS-POEMS AND SONGS COMPLETE.
JAMES THIN, Edinburgh.
THIS is a re-issue, in most attractive and handy form, of Scott Douglas's 6 vol. Edinburgh Edition, the excellencies of which are so universally acknowledged as to require no commentary at this date. The drawback to all library editions is their unwieldiness, and we suspect it was Mr. Thin's
determination to remove this objection that led to the present publication. Within the limits of four handy volumes, beautifully bound, and superbly illustrated from original drawings, he has contrived to compress the whole contents of the large edition, as well as Professor Nicholl's essay, which was published formerly as a supplement, and still with no sacrifice of clearness of type. The paper is of excellent quality, and the typography everything that can be desired by the weakest vision. We know of no more beautiful edition, nor one more suitable for a gift, or to lie at hand for occasional reading. The wonder is how it has been produced at the modest sum charged for it.
J. S. OGILVIE PUBLISHING COMPANY, New York.
THIS is a compilation of most interesting and valuable Burnsiana by Dr. Ross, of New York, whose prolific pen seems to be continually employed at the shrine of the Scottish Bard, and to much good purpose. The present volume contains articles bearing on the details of the Poet's life, his home, and friends; and also eulogies to his memory, criticisms of his works, pilgrimages to his country, and notable anniversary addresses in his praise. The most important, as well as lengthy contribution, is a "Life of Burns," extending to 48 pp., from the graceful and erudite pen of Dr. Peter Ross, a brother of the editor, who has already done much for Scottish literature on the other side of the Atlantic. We have perused this sketch with the greatest pleasure, and adjudged it as one of the best we have ever read of the same limited compass. But though the chapters are short, they are pithy and to the point, admirably adapted to the requirements of those whose reading opportunities are scant and circumscribed. The rest of the contents are, for the most part, eminently readable, and well worthy of the permanent form in which they now appear. The book ought to be shelved beside the five volumes of "Burnsiana," edited by Dr. Ross, and already issued from the Paisley Press.