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Gordon was written by Henry Dundas, add, in every case that we have tested, "the great dispenser of patronage," or with correct taste and nice appreciathat, even if it were, he had anything to tion of language. There is little that is do with the attribution of the lines to new in the notes as to facts or persons. the "ploughing poet,” but one cannot Their special worth lies in the precision help suspecting that in this piece of liter- and fulness with which they trace the ary horseplay there is a clue-if only it history of the poems in manuscript and could be followed up-to the neglect print, and in the originality of the rewhich Burns suffered at the hands of sults they body forth of investigation Dundas and his compeers.
in.o the "origins" of the poetical forms We must, however, take leave of the used by Burns. One could wish that particulars which the editor of the new the editors had put otherwise the motive “Chambers” has added to Burnsiana, of these annotations, whose purpose, merely noting the illumination he they say, is “to emphasize the theory throws on the origin of "Scots wha hae,” that Burns, for all his exhibition of some as thus: “Under cover of a fourteenth- modern tendencies, was not the founder century battle song he (Burns) was of a dynasty, but the heir to a flourishreally liberating his soul against the ing tradition, and the last of an ancient Tory tyranny that was opposing liberty line; that he is demonstrably the outat home and abroad, and, moreover, come of an environment, and not in any striking at the comfort of his own fire- but the narrowest sense the unnatural side;" the wealth of biographical, birth of Poesy and Time, which he is bibliographical, and linguistic informa- sometimes held to be. However, tion he has collected about “Tam o' editor must be allowed his theory, and Shanter,” "Auld Glen,” “A man's a man Messrs. Henley and Henderson's bold for a' that,” etc., and the tracing of such and uncompromising assertion of theirs allusions as “the daring path Spinoza is welcome as an antidote to the theory trod.” And at least a word of commen or the “Common Burnsite" who, in more dation is due to the editor's scathing or less mythical form, is their bête noir. analysis of the Globe Inn and other Only, their prefatory statement that malignant legends; to the great mass of their notes are meant to emphasize their valuable notes he has collected, includ- theory offers a needless, and, it must ing the identification of every indi- be said, a risky challenge to criticism. vidual, contemporary or historical, men Three volumes of “The Centenary tioned in the poems; and to the vast Burns" are now before the world, and improvement he has made in the presumably the editors have brought glossary. The indexes are exception- forward the bulk of their proofs. These ally complete, indeed unique in their are extensive, scholarly, the fruit of reach and peculiarity.
learned and critical research. They As has been said, the work of Messrs. stand by themselves without the supHenley and Henderson is still incom- port of any preconceived theory whatplete. At present we can only indicate,
Do they demonstrate Messrs. by means of one or two details, the Henley and Henderson's proposition or quality of it. The text of "The Cen- propositions? Unquestionably they do tenary Burns” is as excellent as the —up to a certain point. They provetypography in which it is displayed is what was not disputed—that “Burns beautiful; it has been compiled after
was the heir to a flourishing tradition, collation of as many manuscripts as re
and the last of an ancient line," that he search and industry could command, "derives from a numerous ancestry;". and of the various "authors' editions;" but they do not prove that he was “not and, to the great profit and pleasure of the founder of a dynasty," and, rightly scholars, the source of every reading interpreted, they do not minimize his adopted is plainly stated in the notes,
“modern tendencies." They prove that along with the various readings Burns borrowed not only form but jected by the editors-rejected, we may
matter from his Scotch predecessors,
that he wrote in their manner, on sub was popular in England throughout the jects similar to theirs, but not that he eighteenth century. But “as a matter looked at the world as any one of them of fact "The Kirk's Alarm" was moddid. In short, while emphasizing the elled directly on a political squib which debt Burns owed to his “forebears," appeared in the Glasgow Mercury, Dethey also unwillingly emphasize the cember 23–30, 1788, and was current at gulf that separates him from the best as least six months before Burns wrote his well as the last of them—which gulf first draft.” This is admirable work. is made not only by genius (for Dunbar It is the kind of critical editing that the had genius too), but by modernity. student bas long desired, and it is free
No poet, not even Shakespeare, has from all suspicion of a straining of the been so minutely, lovingly studied as facts to suit the editors' theory. But Burns. No editor has ever approached too high praise cannot be accorded to the text in so truly critical a spirit or Messrs. Henley and Henderson's treated it in so scholarly and classical a studies of origins throughout. Thus fashion as Messrs. Henley and Hender- the six-line stave in rime couée, built on son. It is impossible to convey in a two rhymes, of the "Address to the brief notice an adequate impression Deil," is traced from the work of the either of the bulk or of the quality of first-known troubabour, William IX., their work. Take for example their Count of Poitiers and Duke of Guienne treatment of “The Kirk's Alarm.” (1071-1127), through Hilary, a Paris Their note embraces a summary of the monk of the twelfth century, through an M'Gill persecution, which is a model of anonymous English love-song of the conciseness and completeness, and an thirteenth century, through the “York account of the production of the poem, Plays" and the "Towneley Mysteries” to which they contribute a quotation of the fifteenth century, down to its from the unpublished Dunlop manu- first use by a Scotsman, Sir David scripts at Lochryan: “I have just Lyndesay. So by Fergusson's time it sketched the following ballad, and as hau “become the common inheritance of usual send the first rough draft to you." all such Scotsmen as could rhyme." Their “study of the origin” is as fol. Again, the metrical structure of “The lows: “This copy (Mrs. Dunlop's) was Holy Fair" is traced back to the thiroriginally entitled “The Kirk's La- teenth century romance of “Sir Trisment,” a ballad: Tune, “Push about the trem,” and “docked of the bob-wheel, Brisk Bowl;" but in the manuscript that never-failing device of the Lament is deleted for Alarm. Prob- mediæval craftsman, the “Sir Tristrem" ably, therefore, the idea of the bur- stave is identical with one which, imilesque was suggested by certain tated from a monkish-Latin original, broadside, "The Church of Scotland's was popular all through the fourteenth Lamentation concerning the setting up and fifteenth centuries, and long afterof Plays and Comedies, March, 1715," wards." Burns himself avowedly dethe work of an anonymous writer, of rived the metre of the "Epistle to which there is a copy in the Roxburghe Davie" from Montgomerie. Messrs. Collection." Then they describe the Henley and Henderson ascribe to Montvarious manuscripts and versions, in- gomerie, with the utmost probability, cluding the broadside published in 1789 the invention of this peculiar quatorwith the title “The Ayrshire Garland," zain; they trace its history to Ramsay's an excellent new song: tune, "The Vicar revival of it in “The Vision," and elseand Moses,” of which Mr. Craibe Angus where, and claim it as exclusively Scotis the proud possessor of the only copy tish, both in derivation and in use. In known to exist. Burns's tunes do not like manner they trace back "The it seems, fit the verses. The stave of Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie” "The Kirk's Alarm" was used in Pit- to Hamilton of Gilbertfield's (16657– cairne's "Roundell
Sir Robert 1757) "Last Dying Words of Bonny Sibbald," 1686, and by Congreve, and Heck."
To revert to the famous theory, what leads them to exaggerate a little bis debt do Messrs. Henley and Henderson make to his “nameless forebears," and to of "Tam o' Shanter" and "The Jolly minimize, by ever so little, the broad Beggars ?” Do these works of genius distinction between him and the writhelp to prove or disprove that Burns ers of the songs which he "passed was the last expression of the old Scots through the mint of his mind.” It is not world and the outcome of an environ
easy to see how they can prove and ment plus Scots forebears, rather than a
they do not attempt it—that the masterpioneer in poetry, a prophet with a dis- qualities of "fresh and taking simtinct point of view from his predeces- plicity, of vigor and directness, and sors? Well, the "Centenary” edition happy and humorous ease,” came to does not attempt to derive “Tam o' Burns from his nameless forebears, Shanter" at all. Of “The Jolly Beg along with "much of the thought, the gars” it says frankly: “The Burns of romance, and the sentiment, for which this ‘puissant and splendid production,' we read and love him." But theory as Matthew Arnold calls it—this irresis apart, students are deeply indebted for tible presentation of humanity caught the study in the origins of Burns's songs in the act, and summarized forever in which is here presented to them. The the terms of art-comes into line with editors have utilized a vast mass of madivers poets of repute, from our own terial which previous editors have but Dekker and John Fletcher to the singer skimmed-broadsides, chap-books, rare of les Gueux (1813) and “Le Vieux Vaga- song-books, the great collections of bond” (1830), and approves himself David Herd, including the British their master in the matter of such qual- Museum manuscripts, even “The Merry ities as humor, vision, lyrical potency, Muses," an invaluable guide, rightly descriptive style, and the faculty of used. The Lochryan manuscripts, emswift, dramatic presentation, to a pur- bracing unpublished letters of Burns to pose that may not be gainsaid." Does Mrs. Dunlop, have furnished them with not that give away the whole case? a number of interesting facts, such as The poet of “The Jolly Beggars" was the poet's explicit statement that neither the satirist and singer of a par- "Sweet Afton" was written for Johnish, nor the product of a local or tra- son's Musical Museum as a “compliditionary environment, ever so many ment" to the "small river Afton that forebears aiding. He imitated, copied, flows into the Nith, near New Cumnock, and stole much; that is proved to the which has some charming wild romantic hilt, and never more conclusively or scenery on its banks." Their treatment completely than here. But when an at- of Burns's inheritance from the clandestempt is made to place him in the tine literature of Scotland, and of Enhierarchy of literature, bis imitative gland too, is excellent. The poet's rework must be assigned its proper, lations with Johnson and Thomson are recognized value, and that which he carefully and accurately set forth, and invented (in the widest sense of the sufficient proof is furnished from his term, including form and point of view) correspondence in the Hastie manumust be taken as the decisive evidence scripts, and from certain manuscript of distinction. But the note on "The material in the possession of Mr. George Jolly Beggars” is in itself a monument Gray, Rutherglen, that he was virtually of knowledge of the literature of men editor of the Museum from 1787 till his dicancy and knavery, and will be pre- health began to fail. The Thomson cious to all time.
songs are justly placed on a lower level It is in the third volume, recently pub- than those which he passed through the lished, that Messrs. Henley and Hender- mint to Johnson, though one may fairly son are most successful, as they were demur to the sweeping criticism that bound to be, in proving Burns to be the "they are often vapid in sentiment and last expression of the old Scots world, artificial in effect.” although their theory unquestionably A good example of the editing of a
song is the note on “M‘Pherson's Fare- and invaluable body of contributions to well.” The Herd set is traced to an old the critical appreciation of Burns's broadside—“The Last Words of James song-writing. “Under his hand," say Macpherson, Murderer,” with the corol. Messrs. Henley and Henderson, "a lary—“That it is excellent drama that patch-work of catch-words became a livhas bred the ridiculous tradition-de- ing song. He would take you two fragvoutly accepted by certain editors-that ments of different epochs, select the the hero wrote it.” And Peter Buchan's best from each, and treat the matter of copy is declared to be a clumsy vamp his choice in such a style that it is hard from Burns and the original. Take, to know where its components end and again, the note on "Up in the Morning begin; so that nothing is certain about Early." D'Urfey's authorship of the his result except that it is a work of art. original ballad is not assailed, though Or he would capture a wandering old doubt is cast upon it by the existence of refrain, adjust it to his own conditions, a set in a “Collection of Old Ballads" and so renew its lyrical interest and (London, 1723), described as “said to significance that it seems to live its true have been written in the time of life for the first time on his lips.” Their James." Hogg and Motherwell's "well own work supplies, for the first time, known song" is said to be a vamp from sufficient detailed evidence of the truth Burns, and Burns's chorus at least is of that scarcely original thesis. There clearly traced to its immediate source in are errors of taste in the “Centenary a hitherto unknown set in the Herd Burns,” but these and some slips in manuscript. We have remarked the accuracy apart, it stands forth as the discovery which settles the ancient con- classical edition of the poetry of Robert troversy about “Afton Water." But Burns. these are mere tastings of an inimitable
A Queer Friendship.-While visiting The wood pigeons have established in Herefordshire last week I noticed a themselves in an oak tree overhanging curious instance of a wild duck having the pond, and are evidently going to nest become on friendly terms with a pair of there. They have been seen to start wood pigeons. As I had never heard of off on a flight from the tree, and the malsuch a thing before, I venture to send lard would at once rise from the pond you an account of the circumstances. and join them, when they would fly A pair of domesticated wild ducks were round and chase one another as if in brought up on a pond last year, and dur- play. The wood pigeons frequently ing the winter the duck was accidentally visit the garden close by, and have shot by some one. The mallard re- lately been observed feeding on some mained on the pond, but seemed very green peas which are growing there. unhappy, and used to fly around repeat. The mallard walks about the garden edly, as if looking for his mate. Some with them. At the bottom of the gartwo months ago the mallard was fre- den is a stone wall about three feet quently seen to be flying around in com- high, with a broad, flat top, and the pany with one or two wood pigeons, and wood pigeons frequently fly from the would accompany them to the surround- garden and perch on the wall; the maling fields and walk about with them lard has been seen to do the same, wadwhile they fed. Every now and then it dling about on the wall and seeming on would take a flight with them when the best possible terms with them.-The they rose.
Sixth Series, Volume XV.
No. 2770-August 7, 1897.
I. NEWMAN AND RENAN. By William
Neera. Translated for The Living Age
by Mrs. Maurice Perkins. Part III.
Blackwood's Magazine, . XI. JERUSALEM,
Illustrated London News,
388 392 396 403 405 407
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