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THE WORKS

OF

PROFESSOR WILSON

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

EDITED BY HIS SON-IN-LAW

PROFESSOR FERRIER

VOL. VII.

ESSAYS, CRITICAL AND IMAGINATIVE

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, EDINBURGH

AND SOLD BY

DUNCAN GRANT, 429 HIGH STREET, EDINBURGH

MDCCCLXV

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PREFATORY NOTE.

THE principal Essay in this volume originally appeared in a work entitled “The Land of Burns, a Series of Landscapes and Portraits illustrative of the Life and Writings of THE SCOTTISH POET, with descriptive letterpress, by Professor Wilson and Robert Chambers, Esq.-Blackie & Sons, Glasgow, 1841.” For the convenience of the general reader, the following short chronicle of the more prominent dates in the career of the illustrious Poet has been subjoined.

Robert Burns was born at Alloway, near Ayr, on the 25th of January 1759 His father and family removed to the neighbouring farm of Mount Oliphant

1766 They removed to the farm of Lochlea, parish of Tarbolton, Ayrshire 1777 Burns and his brother Gilbert took the farm of Mossgiel, parish of Mauchline, Ayrshire

1784 The father of Burns died

1784 Burns's first publication

1786 He entertained the intention of emigrating to the West Indies 1786 He visited Edinburgh

1786 The second edition of his Poems

1787 He made a tour of the south of Scotland and the Highlands 1787 He returned to Edinburgh

1787 He obtained an appointment in the Excise

1788 He left Edinburgh-married Jean Armour

1788 He took the farm of Ellisland, Dumfriesshire

1788 He removed with his family to Dumfries

1791 He contributed songs to Johnson's Museum

1792 He contributed songs to Thomson's Scottish Melodies

1792-96 His health was very much impaired

1795 He died 21st July

1796

ESSAYS

CRITICAL AND IMAGINATIVE.

THE GENIUS AND CHARACTER OF BURNS.

BURNS is by far the greatest poet that ever sprung from the bosom of the people, and lived and died in a humble con

Indeed, no country in the world but Scotland could have produced such a man; and he will be for ever regarded as the glorious representative of the genius of his country. He was born a poet, if ever man was, and to his native genius alone is owing the perpetuity of his fame. For he manifestly had never very deeply studied poetry as an art, nor reasoned much about its principles, nor looked abroad with the wide ken of intellect for objects and subjects on which to pour out his inspiration. The condition of the peasantry of Scotland, the happiest, perhaps, that Providence ever allowed to the children of labour, was not surveyed and speculated on by him as the field of poetry, but as the field of his own existence; and he chronicled the events that passed there, not merely as food for his imagination as a poet, but as food for his heart as a man. Hence, when inspired to compose poetry, poetry came gushing up from the well of his human affections, and he had nothing more to do than to pour it, like streams irrigating a meadow, in many a cheerful tide over the drooping flowers and fading verdure of life. Imbued with vivid perceptions, warm feelings, and strong

VOL. VII.

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