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"Knowledge, I grant, dilates the range of mind;
"No iron law, no strong necessity,
The "Essay on Happiness" is a poetical reply to the motto from Rasselas, which it bears: "It is long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found."
The idea of the poem was suggested by reading the work of Johnson. It was begun while travelling in Greece in 1819, and after a time discontinued. It was resumed, and the plan remodelled at Torquay in 1832, and was finished at Rode Hall in the following year. The "Devotional Reflection " is a collection of hymns containing spiritual aspirations and meditations for each day of the Christian year. Sir Archibald's taste and scholarship are finely displayed in his numerous translations, For his translations of "Plmmortalite," from Lamartine's "Meditations Po6tiques," he received from that celebrated poet the following communication :—
"Sir,—The success the most flattering to a poet is to see his works translated, especially by a man of real talent, as real talent always supposes an enlightened taste. You have procured me this success, and I thank you doubly for it. Your fine language—more rich and flexible than ours—has much embellished my too feeble poetry, I find all my thoughts and all my sentiments in your flowing lines, but I find them embellished and more highly coloured by a more picturesque style, and in words which render the images more lucid. Impassioned admirer of English poetry, I am highly gratified by perusing my own thoughts expressed in the language which Shakespeare, Milton, and Byron have fashioned and modulated to the highest tone of philosophy, and which yourself speak with so much force and elegance. Allow me, sir, to renew the assurance of my gratitude, and of my desire to express it to you personally on my next visit to Paris or to London.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your humble servant, Comte Alphonse De La Martine.
"Chateau de . . . ., 15 Aofit, 1829."
The poetry of Sir Archibald Edmonstone has missed the mark of popularity, and the reason appears to lie on the surface. It is the poetry of culture and not the poetry of genius, There is no lack of poetic art; but there is a want of poetic warmth, an absence of imaginative elevation and fusion. The want of passion may be accounted for by considering the author's religious standpoint, but the heart, if occasionally touched, is seldom deeply and powerfully moved. And this should not have been with the subjects he chose to handle. All this being granted, it has still certain distinguishing merits which should preserve it from oblivion. It manifests a purity of feeling; it is pervaded with a certain spiritual calmness and moral reflectiveness; it is wholly so elevated in tone, and it is here and there suffused with such a pure religious enthusiasm which well deserve it to be had in good remembrance of the learned and good of coming times. There will always be a class to which it can minister, and who could be profited by its ministry. It would consequently be a matter of regret if its notes should fail in a sphere where many less rich and musical are preserved,
I append to this chapter a translation by Sir Archibald of a passage from the "Trionfo della Morte of Petrarch," cap. ii. :—
"Non come fiamma che per forza e spenta,
"Not like a flame that is by violence spent,
But rather of itself consumes away,
Like to the waning light's soft, clear decay,
Still keeps its customed tenor to the last.
Which motionless on the hillside are cast
As if sleep hung upon these beauteous eyes
Fools say this is to die,—yet in the guise
William H. Burns—Two Kirk Session Meetings—Dun and Kilsyth—9th May, 1843—Character Sketch—At the Feet of Christ—Birth — Ordination—Work at Dun—Induction to Kilsyth—Presentation and "Call "—At the Grave of Robe— W. C. Burns—The Memory of Rev. John Livingston—The Second Revival—The '43 Secession—A Long Bright Sunset— Rev. Robert Black—Family—Education—Church Building —Rev. W. Jeffrey.
The minutes of Kilsyth Kirk Session show that the first meeting of which William Burns was moderator was held on the 24th December, 1820, and that the last at which he presided was dated the 9th May, 1843. So far as the business done at these two meetings of session was concerned, it was of an entirely routine and colourless character. Three and twenty years, however, is a long time in the life of any man, and in that of a clergyman it covers much more than the average period of ordination. Looking at these two sederunts of session now, after all those years, and comparing them together, we observe that these gentlemen held session with Dr. Burns at the first meeting:—James Lang, Robert Shaw, Alexander Shaw, Alexander Aitcheson, George Young, James Goodwin, John Hay, William Wilson, Alexander Henderson, David Clelland, and Matthew Anderson— a goodly company of eleven elders. And these, with the moderator, formed the court of the 9th May, 1843:—» James Wilson, James Shaw, William Anderson, junior," Andrew Clelland, John Findlay, and J. F. Walker. There were three members absent that night:—George Auchinvole, A. Marshall, and J. Paterson. Some of the old names survive, but the old bearers of them are all