« 이전계속 »
heart, or inflames it with a power which seems habitual and familiar to him. He has a consonance in his bosom for every note of human feeling; the high and the low -the sad and the ludicrous—the mournful and the joyful are welcome in their turns, to his all-conceiving spirit. And then, with what a prompt and eager force he grasps bis subject, be it what it may! How he fixes, as it were, the full image of the matter in his eye, full and clear in every lineament, and catches the real type and essence of it, among a thousand incidents and superficial circumstances no one of which misleads him! No poet, of any age or nature, is more graphic than Burns. The characteristic features disclose themselves to him at a glance. Three lines from his hand, and we have a likeness.”
The universal popularity of Burns, and the extraordinary influence of his works, particularly of his exquisite national lyrics, on the feelings of his countrymen, have never been depicted with more feeling, taste, and elegance of diction, than in the subjoined passage from his life, by Allan Cunningham :-"A lyric poet, with more than the rustic humour and exact truth of Ramsay, with simplicity surpassing Crawford's, and native elegance exceeding Hamilton's, and with a genius which seemed to unite all the distinguishing excellences of our elder lyrics, appeared in Robert Burns. He was the first who brought deep passion to the service of the lyric muse, who added sublimity to simplicity, and found grace and elegance among the cottages of his native land. The beauty and the variety of his songs, their vænderness and truth, their pathetic sweetness, their inextinguishable humour, their noble scorn of whatever is mean and vile, and their deep sympathy with the feelings of humble worth, are felt by all, and acknowledged by all. His original power, and his happy spirit, were only equalled by his remarkable gift of entering into the characters of our ancient songs, and the skill with which he abated their indelicacy, or eked out their imperfections. No one felt more fondly the presence of beauty, could express admiration, hope, or desire, in more glowing language, or sing of the calm joys of wedded love, or the unbounded rapture of single hearts and mutual affection, with equal force or felicity. All his songs are distinguished, more or less, by a happy carelessness, by a bounding elasticity of spirit, a singular and natural felicity of expression, by the ardour of an enthusiastic heart, and the vigour of a clear understanding. He had the rare gift of expressing himself according to the rank and condition of mankind, the stateliness of matron pride, the modesty of virgin affection, the querulousness of old age, and the overflowing enthusiasm and vivacity of youth. His simplicity is the simplicity of strength: he is never mean, never weak, seldom vulgar, and but rarely coarse; and his unrivalled power of clothing his thoughts in happy and graceful language never forsakes him. Capricious and wayward as his musings sometimes are, mingling the moving with the comic, and the sarcastic with the solemn, all he says is above the mark of other men—he sheds a redeeming light on all he touches; whatever his eye glances on rises into life and beauty, and stands consecrated and imperishable. His language is familiar, yet dignified, careless, yet concise; and he touches on the most perilous or ordinary themes with a skill so rare and felicitous, that good fortune seems to unite with good taste in carrying him over the mire of rudeness and vulgarity, in which, since his time, so many inferior spirits have wallowed. His love, his enthusiasm, his devotion, his humour, his domestic happiness, and his homeliest joy, are everywhere characterized by a brief and elegant simplicity, at once easy to him and unattainable to others. No one has such power in adorning the humble, and dignifying the plain, and in extracting sweet and impassioned poetry from the daily occurrences of human life: his simplicity is without childishness, his affection without exaggeration, and his sentiment without conceit.
"The influence which the genius of Burns has obtained over the heart of Scotland is indeed great, and promises to be lasting. He alarms, it is true, very sensitive and fastidious persons by the freedom of his speculations, and the masculine vigour of his mode of expression; but these are rather the casual lapses of the muse, the overflowings of an ardent heart and
unwearied fancy, and a love of vivid illustration, than a defect of principle, or an imperfection of taste. Like a fine race-horse, he cannot always stop at the winningpost; like a beautiful stream, he sometimes overflows the banks; and his genius resembles more a tree run wild, than one trimmed and pruned to decorate a garden walk. When speaking of his prospects of future fame to a friend, he said he depended chiefly on his songs for the continuance of his name; and his decision seems correct; not but that I think, in all his earlier poems he displays greater force and freedom of genius than he anywhere else exhibits in his lyrics; but then these brief and bright effusions are learned by beart-are confined to the memories of the people—and come down from generation to generation without the aid of the press or the pen, to which longer and more deliberate productions must be trusted. In this way alone would many of the best of Burns's songs be preserved, perhaps his humorous lyrics the longest."
After the death of Burns many poetical tributes were written in praise of his genius, and in commemoration of his melancholy fate. A collection of these would of themselves form a pleasing volume. Those by Wordsworth, Montgomery, and Cainpbell, are the most esteemed. The following spirited stanzas are from the pen of Campbell:
Farewell, high chief of Scottish song!
To bless the spot that holds thy dust. With these impressive verses we conclude our biographical sketch of a man, who, as Hazlitt said truly, “had a strong mind, and a strong body, the fellow to it. He had a real heart of flesh and blood beating in his bosom—you can almost hear it throb.”.
BORN, 1786; DIED, 1823.
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
No deeds of arms my humble lines rehearse;
Bloomfield's" Farmer's Boy. **
In the preceding sketches we have given an account of the lives and productions of Ramsay and Burns, both of them remarkable instances of poets, who were in a great measure self-educated, and who claimed no higher origin than that of having sprung from the labouring population. Among the most respectable and highly-gifted of this class was Robert Bloomfield, the author of the “Farmer's Boy," a poet of undoubted genius, and a map of virtuous character. He had to encounter, in the course of a comparatively short life, the difficulties which are the inevitable lot of genius when allied to poverty; but, like many other humbly-born votaries of the muse, he did not close his struggling career without finding a generous patron to encourage and reward his efforts. The principal incidents in Robert's history are pleasingly and affectionately narrated, by his brother George, in a letter to Capel Lofft. The father of this eminent English pastoral poet was a tailor. He resided at Honington, a small village near Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk,
where his son, the subject of this memoir, was born, on December 3, 1766. He was the youngest of six children, and not twelve months old when his father died. His mother was left without a provision for the support of her family, and was obliged to maintain them by her own industry. Being an intelligent person, though of limited education, she opened a little school for the children of the humbler classes, in which Robert was instructed to read. Writing was not taught in Mrs. Bloomfield's humble seminary, and she sent her son for about three months to the adjoining town of Ixworth, to get a few lessons in the art of penmanship. This was the only school instruction he ever received. At this period he was seven years old, when his mother married à second time. He was then removed from school, and never sent to any other.
In George Bloomfield's narrative there is no account given of his brother's occupations from his seventh to his eleventh year. It appears, however, that his mother being in narrow circumstances, she placed him under the care of her brother, a Mr. Austin, who was a farmer, residing on the lands of the Duke of Grafton at Sapiston, adjoining the village of Honington. He was employed by his uncle in the capacity of a farmer's boy. It was soon discovered that his small and delicate frame was unfitted for laborious work; and at the end of two years and a half he was sent to London, and placed under the protection of his eldest brother, George, who was a shoemaker, and promised to teach him his trade. The younger brother, Nathaniel, undertook to provide him with clothes. It was during his residence at Sapiston that he first imbibed his enthusiastic love of natural scenery, in the accurate description of which he afterwards became so celebrated. He could not at that time have perused many books; but he had no sooner arrived in London than he evinced a desire to improve himself in reading, and to augment his scanty amount of knowledge.
Mr. George Bloomfield then lived in a poor garret, No. 14, Bell-alley, Coleman-street. The humble employments of Robert, while he resided with his brother,