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into shape, and properly dressed and ornamented : no perils are encountered : all is safe, and all is easy. As we have had little cost in the education of such a mistress, we can spare something for a trifling addition of ornament!
It is much the same to the generality of readers : it looks as well to the eye, and sounds as well to the ear. They cannot judge between the original, and that which is borrowed.
But Mr. Ruminator, if I fail in catching these nymphs of my own fancy, “ these fairy creatures of the brain,” which shine by their own light, my time is too much occupied, and my taste is rendered too keen to put up with these hacknied strumpets, which display themselves in borrowed feathers in the travelled roads.
These aërial ladies, that thus fly from my pursuit, what are they?
gay creatures of the element, That play i' th' plighted clouds !”
Poets can catch them at their will; can bid them sit for their pictures; and then can delineate with facility all their beauties. I, alas! follow, non passibus æquis; “ clouds interpose;" and the flattering vision vanishes in an instant in darkness.
You can tell me, for sometimes at least you must have experienced these disappointments, what remedy, or what consolation there is for these failures! Am I in truth more deficient than falls to the common lot; or do the generality of educated people delude themselves with the possession of powers in
which on trial they would find themselves as wanting as I have experienced myself to be ?
When I look back on Addison, and Steele, and Johnson, and Hawksworth, and recollect how very few have been able to follow in the same course with any tolerable success, I am induced to hope, that the difficulty is greater than this mob of talkers and readers have been willing to suppose.
Such a combination of endowments and opportunities seems so requisite to produce eminence in the higher orders of composition, that I trust a failure may be incurred without disgrace, while the value of a happy performance ought to be enhanced. Of those, on whom nature has bestowed gifts sufficiently rich, how many are there, whose exertions are palsied hy indolence, adversity, morbid nerves, or other unpropitious circumstances ! » Sometimes I persuade myself to think, that my inability arises from my anxiety; and that, were I more confident, I should be more likely to succeed. Dr. Johnson used to say, “ that with the necessity comes the ability.” I have not found it so.
As you have said, that you love to investigate the internal movements of the human mind, I trust, you will not deem this picture of the struggles of mine unacceptable.
PHUGAPHILUS. ART. DCCLIV.
N°. LV. On the Beneficence of Providence in be
stowing a Sensibility to the Charms of Nature ; and on the permanent Power of delighting possessed by Poetry, which describes them.
156 God made the country; but man made the town."
· It is probably for the most beneficent purposes that we are endued with a keen sensibility for the charms of Nature. Even now, when winter howls round us, and a damp and black gloom hovers over the lawn, and the brown leafless woods that skirt it, I look abroad from my retirement, and feel my anxieties gilded by a solemn kind of pleasure. Addison has a paper on this subject written with all that philosophical truth, that beauty of imagery, moral pathos, nice discrimination, and felicity of language, which render his Essays inimitable.
From the very earliest period of my life, almost every thing which has been of sufficient interest to make a lasting impression on my memory, has intermixed itself with some look of the sky, or the fields, or the woods; or some other image of Nature. I remember, though I have not power to describe, a hundred aspects of the sun and the moon over the scenes of my nativity, as connected with some childish exploit, from the age of six, nay of four, years. And surely, as sensations of this kind are among the most pure and virtuous of our existence, we may be allowed to look back upon them with satisfaction and delight !
The remark may be sufficiently obvious, but I cannot help here expressing it, that this habit of associating all his feelings and every event which he describes with natural scenery, is among the principal charms of the poetry of Burns. It almost always makes the opening of his love-songs; and generally even of his songs of war. For this we need look no further than the index, containing the first lines of his songs, in the fourth volume of Currie's edition of his works. And I will only specify two or three, which immediately cross my eye.
“ The Catrine woods were yellow seen,
The flowers decay'd on Catrine lee;
But Nature sicken'd on the e'e.
Hersel in beauty's bloom the while;
the wildwood echoes rang,
“ Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
“ Belold the hour, the boat arrive ;
Thou goest, the darling of my heart:
But fate has will'd, and we must part.
Yon distant isle will often hail :
There latest mark'd her vanish'd sail !" &c.
« Evan Banks.
“ Slow spreads the gloom my soul desires,
Where Evan mingles with the tide !"* &c. It appears to me that Burns never made an assignation of pleasure or friendship, without feeling that the tints of the sky, and the natural scenery around him, were prominent ingredients in his enjoyment. This is one striking feature among the many exquisite charms of Gray's Elegy. All the characteristics, every leading event of the rustic's life, which are delineated with such admirable feel. ing, and such vigorous and living touches, are connected with, and marked out by some image of surrounding nature. Thus “ the breezy call of incense-breathing morn,” (one of the finest lines in the whole body of English, or any, poetry) “ the twittering swallow;" the “ woods bowing to the axe," &c. &c. (all of which are too familiar to every reader to be here particularized), so soften and smooth the melancholy created by the affecting ideas of mortality and eartbly oblivion, as to make us in love with a peaceful obscurity, and bang with benevolent and tender hearts over the 66 short and simple annals of the poor.”
* This last is from Mr. Cromek's new volume of “ Reliques of Burns's," just published, by Cadell and Davies. Svo. out to have been written by Helen Williams.
But it turns