Burns, Robert

, an eminent modern poet of Scotland, was born on the 29th day of January, 1759, in a small house about two miles from the town of Ayr, in Scotland. His father, William, after various attempts to gain a livelihood, took a lease of seven acres of land, with a view of commencing nurseryman and public gardener; and having built a house upon it with his own hands, he married, December 1757, Agnes Brown. The first fruit of his marriage was Robert, who in his sixth year was sent to a school at Alloway Miln, about a mile distant from his father’s house, where he made considerable proficiency in reading and writing, and where he discovered an inclination for books not very common at so early an age. With these, however, he appears at that time to have been rather scantily supplied; but what he could obtain he read with avidity and improvement. About the age of thirteen, or fourteen, he was sent to the parish school of Dalrymple, where he increased his acquaintance with English gramroar, and gained some knowledge of the French language. Latin was also recommended to him; but he was not induced to make any great progress in it. In the intervals from these studies, he was employed on his father’s farm, which, in spite of much industry, became so unproductive as to involve the family in great distress. This early portion of affliction is said to have been, in a great measure, the cause of that depression of spirits of which our poet often complained, and during which his sufferings appear to have been very acute. His father having taken another farm, the speculation was yet more fatal, and involved his affairs in complete ruin. He died Feb. 13, 1784.

It was between the fifteenth and sixteenth year of his age, that Robert, as he himself informs us, first “committed the sin of rhyme.” Having formed a boyish affection for a female who was his companion in the toils of the field, he composed a song, which is inserted in his works; but which, however extraordinary from one at his age, and in his circumstances, is far inferior to any of his subsequent performances. He was at this time “an ungainly, awkward boy,” unacquainted with the world, but who | occasionally had picked up some notions of history, literature, and criticism, from the few books within his reach. These, he informs us, were Salmon’s and Guthrie’s Geographical Grammars, the Spectator, Pope’s Works, some plays of Shakspeare, Tull and Dickson on Agriculture, the Pantheon, Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding, Stackhouse’s History of the Bible, Justice’s British Gardener’s Directory, Boyle’s Lectures, Allan Ramsay’s Works, Taylor’s Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, a Select Collection of English Songs, and Hervey’s Meditations. Of this motley assemblage, it may readily be supposed, that some would be studied, and some read superficially. There is reason to think> however, that he perused the works of the poets with such attention, as, assisted by his naturally vigorous capacity, soon directed his taste, and enabled him to discriminate tenderness and sublimity from affectation and bombast.

It appears afterwards, that during the space of seven years in which the family lived at Tarbolton, where his father’s last farm was situated, that is, from the seventeenth to the twenty-fourth year of Robert’s age, he made no considerable literary improvement, involved, as he was, in the common difficulties of his family: but still the innate peculiarities of his character displayed themselves, always to the astonishment, and sometimes to the terror of his neighbours. He was distinguished by a vigorous understanding, and an untameable spirit. His resentments were quick, and, although not durable, expressed with a volubility of indignation which could not but silence and overwhelm his humble and illiterate associates; while the occasional effusions of his muse on temporary subjects, which were handed about in manuscript, raised him to a local superiority that seemed the earnest of a more extended fame. His first motive to compose verses, as has Wen already noticed, was his early and warm attachment to the fair sex. His favourites were in the humblest walks of life; but, during his passion, he elevated them to Lauras and Saccharissas. His attachments, however, at this time, were of the purer kind, and his constant theme the happiness of the married state; to obtain a suitable provision for which, he engaged in partnership with a flax-dresser, hoping, probably, to attain by degrees the rank of a manufacturer. But this speculation was attended | with very little success, and was finally ended by an accidental fire.

This calamity, the distresses of 4iis family, and a disappointment in a love affair, threw him for some time into a state of melancholy, which he seems to have considered as constitutional; but from which he was roused by an accidental acquaintance with some jovial companions, who gave a more gay turn to his sentiments. On his father’s death, he took a farm in conjunction with his brother, with the honourable view of providing for’their large and orphan family. On this farm our poet entered, with a resolution to be wise: he read books on agriculture, calculated crops, and attended markets. But here, too, he was doomed to be unfortunate, although, in his brother Gilbert, he had a coadjutor of excellent sense, a man of uncommon powers both of thought and expression. During his residence on. this farm with his brother, he formed a connexion with a young woman, the consequences of which could not be long concealed. In this dilemma, the imprudent couple agreed to make a legal acknowledgment of an irregular and private marriage, and projected that she should remain with her father, while he, having lost all hopes of success at home, was to go to Jamaicato push his fortune.” This proceeding, however romantic it may appear, would have rescued the lady’s character, consonant to the laws of Scotland, which allow of greater latitude in the terms and period of the marriage-contract than those of England; but it did not satisfy her father, who insisted on having all the written documents respecting the marriage Cancelled, and by this unfeeling measure he intended that it should be rendered void. The daughter consented, probably under the awe of parental authority; and our poet, though with much anguish and reluctance, was also obliged to flubmit. Divorced now from all he held dear in the world, he had no resource but in his projected voyage to Jamaica, which was prevented by a circumstance which eventually laid the foundation of his future fame. For once, his poverty stood his friend: he was destitute of every necessary for the voyage, and was therefore advised to raise a sum of money by publishing his poems in the way of subscription. They were accordingly printed at Kilmarnock, in 1786, in a small volume, which was encouraged by subscriptions for about 350 copies. It is hardly possible, say | his countrymen who were on the spot at this time, to express with what eager admiration and delight these poems were every where received. Old and young, high and low, grave and gay, learned and ignorant, all were alike delighted, agitated, transported. Such transports would naturally find their way into the bosom of the author* especially when he found that, instead of the necessity of flying from his native land, he was now encouraged to go to Edinburgh and superintend the publication of a second edition.

This was the most momentous period of his life, in which he was to emerge from obscurity and poverty to distinction and wealth. In the metropolis he was soon introduced into the company and received the homage of men of literature, rank, and taste; and his appearance and behaviour at this time, as they exceeded all expectation, heightened and kept up the curiosity which his works had excited. He became the object of universal admiration and fondness, and was feasted, caressed, and flattered, as if it had been impossible to reward his merit too highly, or to grace his triumphal entry by too many solemnities. But what contributed principally to extend his fame into the sister kingdom* was his fortunate introduction to Mr. Mackenzie, who^ in the 97th paper of the Lounger, then published periodically at Edinburgh, recommended his poems by judicious specimens, and such generous and elegant criticism, as placed the poet at once in the rank he was destined to hold. From this time, whether present or. absent, Burns and his genius were the objects which engrossed all attention and all conversation.

It cannot be surprising if so much adulation, in this new scene of life, produced effects an Burns which were the source of much of the unhappiness of his future life: for, while he was admitted into the company of men of taste, delicacy, and virtue, he was also seduced, by pressing invitations, into the society of those whose habits, without being very gross, are yet too social and inconsiderate; and the festive indulgences of these his companions and professed admirers were temptations which often became irresistible. Among his superiors in rank and merit, his behaviour was in general decorous and unassuming; but among his more equal or inferior associates, he: was permitted to dictate the mirth of the evening, and repaid the attention and submission of his hearers by sallies of wit. | which, from one of his birth and education, in addition to their sterling value, had all the fascination of wonder. His introduction, about thasame time, into certain convivial clubs of higher rank was, to say the least, an injudicious mark of respect to one who, whatever his talents, was destined, unless very uncommon aad liberal patronage should interpose, to return to the plough, and to the simple and frugal enjoyments of a peasant’s life.

During, his residence at Edinburgh, his finances were considerably improved by the new edition of his poems; and thjs enabled him not only to partake of the pleasures of that city, but to visit several other parts of his native country. He left Edinburgh May 6, 1787, and in the course of his journey was hospitably received at the houses of many gentlemen of worth and learning, who introduced him to their friends and neighbours, and repeated the applauses on which he had feasted in the metropolis. Of this tour he wrote a journal, which still exists, and of which some specimens have been published. He afterwards travelled into England as far as Carlisle. In the beginning of June he arrived at JVfossgiel, near Mauchlin, in Ayrshire, after an absence of six months, during which he had experienced a happy reverse of fortune, to which the hopes of few men in his situation could have aspired. He performed another journey the same year, of which there are a few minutes in the work already referred to, and which furnished him with subjects for his muse. His companion in some of these tours was a Mr. Nicol, a man of considerable talents, but eccentric manners, who was endeared to Burns not only by the warmth of his friendship, but by a certain congeniality of sentiment and agreement in habits. This sympathy, in some other instances, made our poet capriciously fond of companions, who, in the eyes of men of more regular conduct and more refined notions, were insufferable.

During the greater part of the winter, 1787—8, Burns again resided in Edinburgh, and entered with peculiar, relish into its gaieties. By his patrons of the higher order he was still respected and caressed; but, as the singularities of his manner displayed themselves more openly, and as the novelty of his appearance wore off, he brcame less an object of general curiosity and attention. He lingered long in this place, however, in hopes that some situation would have been offered which might place him in | independence: but as it did not seem probable that any thing of that kind would occur soon, he began seriously to reflect that he had as yet acquired *io permanent situation in the world, and that tours of pleasure and praise would not provide for the wants of a family. Influenced by these considerations, and probably ashamed of a delay which was not in unison with his native independence of mind, he quitted Edinburgh in the month of February 1788. Finding himself master of nearly 500l. from the sale of his poems, after discharging all expences, he took the farm of Ellisland, near Dumfries, and stocked it with part of this money, besides generously advancing 200l. to his brother Gilbert, who was struggling with many difficulties in the farm of Mossgiel. He was now al^o legally united to Mrs. Burns, who joined him, with their children, about the end of this year; and now rebuilt the dwelling-house on his farm, to render it more commodious to his family; and while the regulations of the farm had the charm of novelty, he passed his time in more tranquillity than he had lately experienced. But, unfortunately, his old habits were rather interrupted than broken. He was again invited into social parties, with the additional recommendation of a man who had seen the world, and lived with the great; and again partook of those irregularities for which men of warm imaginations, and conversation-talents, find too many apologies. But a circumstance now occurred which presented a new species of temptations, and threw many ob-? stacles in his way as a farmer.

It has already been noticed, that Burns very fondly cherished those notions of independence, and those feelings of an independent spirit that are dear to the young and ingenuous, and were, perhaps, not less so to him, because so often sung by the greatest of our poets. But he had not matured these notions by reflection; and he was now to learn, that a little knowledge of the world will overturn many such airy fabrics. If we may form any judgment, however, from his correspondence, his expectations were not very extravagant, since he expected only that some of his illustrious patrons would have placed him, on whom they had bestowed the honours of genius, in a situation where his exertions might have been uninterrupted by the fatigues of labour, and the calls of want. Disappointed in this, be now formed a design of applying for the office of exciseman, as a kind of resource in case | his expectations from the farm should be baffled. By the interest of one of his friends, this object was accomplished; and after the usual forms were gone through, he was appointed exciseman, or, as it is vulgarly called, ganger, of the district in which he lived. It soon appeared, as might naturally have been expected, that the duties of this office were incompatible with his previous employment. “His farm,” says Dr. Currie, “was, in a great measure, abandoned to his servants, while he betook himself to the duties of his new appointment. He might still, indeed, be seen in the spring, directing his plough, a labour in which he excelled, or with a white sheet, containing his seed-corn, slung across his shoulders, striding with measured steps along his turned-up furrows, and scattering the grain in the earth. But his farm no longer occupied the principal part of his care or his thoughts. It was not at Ellisland that he was now in general to be found: Mounted on horse-back, this high: minded poet was pursuing the defaulters of the revenue among the hills and vales of Nithsdale, his roving eye wandering over the charms of nature, and muttering his wayward fancies as he moved along.

About this time (1792), he was solicited, and cheerfully consented, to give his aid to a beautiful work, entitled “A select collection of original Scottish Airs for the Voice: to which are added introductory and concluding symphonies and accompaniments for the piano forte and violin, by Pleyel and Kozeluch; with select and characteristic verses by the most admired Scottish poets, &c.” This work was projected by Mf. George Thomson, of Edinburgh, in whom Burns would have found a generous employer, had he not, from motives understood only by himself, refused every offer of remuneration. He wrote, however, with attention and without delay, for this work, all the songs which form the third volume of the edition of his works in 3 vols. 12mo^ to which may be added those he contributed to the “Scots Musical Museum,” conducted by Mr. James Johnson, and published in volumes, from 1787 to 1797.

Burns also found leisure to form a society for purchasing and circulating books among the farmers of the neighbourhood; but these, however praiseworthy employments, still interrupted the attention he ought to have bestowed on his farm, which became so unproductive that he found it con* venient to resign it, and, disposing of his stock and crop, removed to a small house which he had taken in Dumfries, | a short time previous to his lyric engagement with Mr. Thomson. He had now received from the board of excrse, in consequence of his diligence and integrity, an appointment to a new district, the emoluments of which amounted to about seventy pounds sterling per annum. While at Dumfries, his temptations to irregularity, partly arising from the wandering and unsettled duties of his office, and partly from the killing kindness of his friends, recurred so frequently as nearly to overpower those resolutions, which he appears to have formed with a perfect knowledge of what is right and prudent. During his quiet moments, however, he was enlarging his fame by those admirable compositions he sent to Mr. Thomson: and his temporary sallies and flashes of imagination, in the merriment of the social table, still bespoke a genius of wonderful strength and of high captivations. It has been said, indeed, with great justice, that, extraordinary as his poems are, they afford but an inadequate proof of the powers of their author, or of that acuteness of observation and fertility of expression he displayed on the most common topics in conversation. In the society, likewise, of persons of taste and respectability, he could refrain from those indulgences which among his more constant companions probably formed his chief recommendation.

The emoluments of his office, which now composed his. whole fortune, soon appeared insufficient for the maintenance of his family. He did not, indeed, from the first, expect that they could; but he had hopes of promotion at no great distance of time, and would probably have at­‘tained it, if he had not forfeited the favour of the board of excise, by some conversations on the state of public affairs, the revolution of France, &c. which were deemed highly improper, and were, probably, reported to the board in a way not calculated to lessen their effect. An inquiry was therefore instituted into his conduct, the result of which, although rather favourable, was not so much so as to reinstate him in the good opinion of the commissioners. Interest was necessary to enable him to retain his office; and he was informed that his promotion was deferred, and must depend on his future behaviour. He is said to have defended himself on this occasion in a letter addressed to one of the board with much spirit and skill. He wrote another letter to a gentleman, who, hearing that he had been dismissed from his situation, proposed a subscription, | for him. In this last he gives an account of the whole transaction, and endeavours to vindicate his loyalty; he also contends for an independence of spirit, which he certainly possessed, and which, in many instances, he decidedly proved, but which yet appears to have partaken of that ardent zeal and extravagance of sentiment which are fitter to point a stanza than to conduct a life.

Although not satisfied with the issue of this affair, he continued to look up to the contingencies and gradations of promotion. In a letter written to one of his patrons (whose name is concealed), dated 1794, he states that he is on the list of supervisors; that in two or three years he should be at the head of that list, and be appointed, as a matter of course; but that then a friend might be of service in getting him into a part of the kingdom which he would like. A supervisor’s income varies from about 120l. to 2001. a year; but the business, he says, is “an incessant drudgery, and would be nearly a complete bar to every species of literary pursuit.” He proceeds, however, to observe, that the moment he is appointed supervisor in the common routine, he might be nominated on the collector’s list, “and this is always a business purely of political patronage. A collectorship varies from muck better than two hundred a year to near a thousand. Collectors also come forward by precedency on the list, and have, besides a handsome income, a life of complete leisure. A life of literary leisure, with a decent competence, is the summit of my wishes.” He then respectfully solicits the interest of his correspondent to facilitate this.

He was doomed, however, to continue in his present employment for the remainder of his days, which were not many. His constitution, which “had all the peculiarities and delicacies that belong to the temperament of genius,” was now rapidly decaying; yet, although sensible that his race was nearly run, his resolutions of amendment were but feeble. His temper, amidst many struggles between principle and passion, became irritable and gloomy, and he was even insensible to the kind forgiveness and soothing attentions of his affectionate wife. In the month of June, 1796, he removed to Brow, in Annandale, about ten miles from Dumfries, to try the effect of sea-bathing; a remedy that at first, he imagined, relieved the rheumatic pains in his limbs, with which he had been afflicted for some months; but this was immediately followed by a new | attack of fever. When brought back to his house at Dumfries, on the 18th of July, he was no longer able to stand upright. The fever increased, attended with delirium and debility, and on the 2 1st he expired, in the thirty-eighth year of his age. His funeral was accompanied with military honours, not only by the corps of Dumfries volunteers, of which he was a member, but by the fencible infantry, and a regiment of the Cinque Port cavalry, then quartered in Dumfries.

He left a widow and four sons, for whom the inhabitants of Dumfries opened a subscription, which, being extended to England, produced a considerable sum for their immediate necessities. This has since been augmented by the profits of the splendid edition of his works, printed in four volumes, 8vo; to which Dr. Currie, of Liverpool, prefixed a life, written with much elegance and taste.

As to the person of our poet, he is described as being nearly five feet ten inches in height, and of a form that indicated agility as well as strength. His well -raised forehead, shaded with black curling hair, expressed uncommon capacity. His eyes were large, dark, full of ardour and animation. His face was well formed, and his countenance uncommonly interesting. Of his general behaviour, some traits have already been given. It usually bespoke a mind conscious of superior talents, not however unmixed with the affections which beget familiarity and affability. It was consequently various, according to the various modes in which he was addressed, or supposed himself to be treated: for it may easily be imagined that he often felt disrespect where none was meant. His conversation is universally allowed to have been uncommonly fascinating, and rich in wit, humour, whim, and occasionally in serious and apposite reflection. This excellence, however, proved a lasting misfortune to him: for while it procured him the friendship of men of character and taste, in whose company his humour was guarded and chaste, it had also allurements for the lowest of mankind, who know no difference between freedom and licentiousness, and are never so completely gratified as when genius condescend* to give a kind of sanction to their grossness. Yet with all his failings, no man had a quicker apprehension of right and wrongvin human conduct, or a stronger sense of what was ridiculous or mean in morals or manners. His own errors he well knew and lamented, and that spirit of | independence which he claimed, and so frequently exhibited, preserved him from injustice or selfish insensibility. He died poor, but not in debt, and left behind him a name, the fame of which will not be soon eclipsed.

Of his poems, which have^been so often printed, and so eagerly read, it would be unnecessary here to enter into a critical examination. All readers of taste and sensibility have agreed to assign him a high rank among the rural poets of his country. His prominent excellencies are humour, tenderness, and sublimity; a combination rarely found in modern times, unless in the writings of a few poets of the very highest fame, with whom it would be improper to compare him. As he always wrote under the impression of actual feeling, much of the character of the man may be discovered in the poet. He executed no great work, for he never was in a situation which could afford the means of preparing, executing, and polishing a work of magnitude. His time he was compelled to borrow from labour, anxiety, and sickness. Hence his poems are short, various, and frequently irregular. It is not always easy to predict, from the beginning of them, what the conclusion or general management will be. They were probably written at one effort, and apparently with ease. He follows the guidance of an imagination, fertile in its images, but irregular in its expressions, and apt to be desultory. Hence Jie mixes the most affecting tenderness with humour almost coarse, and from this frequently soars to a sentiment of sublimity, a lofty flight, indicative of the highest powers of the art. Although in pursuit of flowers, he does not scruple to pick up a weed, if it has any thing singular in its appearance, or apposite in its resemblance. Yet the reader, who has been accustomed to study nature, and the varieties of the human mind, will always find something in unison with his boldest transitions.

If the merit of a poet is to be estimated by comparison, Burns has certainly surpassed his countrymen Ramsay and Fergusson, the only two writers of any eminence with whom a comparison has been, or can be instituted. In his early attempts, these were the best models he had to follow; and it is evident that he had studied their works, and derived considerable improvement from them. He acknowledged that, meeting with Fergusson’s Scottish Poems, he “strung his lyre anew with emulating vigour.” But still he exceeds in versatility of talent. The poems of Ramsay | and Fergusson are characterized by humour or pathos only: but our poet, while his humour was more exuberant than theirs, and his pathos equally touching, rose superior by flights of the sublime and terrible, which they never attained. He may therefore be believed when he says, that “although he had these poets frequently in his eye, it was rather with a view to kindle at their flame, than to servile imitation.

Burns was entirely the poet of nature. Of literature he had none. He knew the Greek and Roman poets, if he knew them at all, only in translations. There have been, indeed, few poets less indebted to art and education. He was a total stranger to the tinsel, the overloading epithets, and other shifts of modern poets. If he read French, he imbibed nothing of the French manner: but his knowledge of that language does not appear to have been very intimate, although some common-place phrases occur in his letters. What superior culture might have done for a mind naturally vigorous and easily susceptible of knowledge, we shall not now inquire. Burns’ s w: orks claim no charitable allowance on account of the obscurity of his birth, or the stnallness of his acquisitions; they are such as few scholars could have produced, and such as learning could not have materially improved: as a poet, he may await the verdict of criticism, without the least necessity of putting in the plea of poverty, or want of literature. In all his works, he discovers his feelings, without betraying his situation. Had they been sent into the world without a name, conjecture would have found no pretence to fix them on a ploughman, or to suppose that they were published merely to raise pity and relief.

By some it has been regretted, that the best performances of our poet are in a language now accounted barbarous, which is never used in serious writing, and which is gradually falling into disuse, because every man gets rid of it as soun as he can. It has been asked, why he should write only for a part of the island, when he could command the admiration of the whole? In answer, it has been urged, that he wrote for the peasantry of his country, in a language which was to them familiar, and rich in expression. It was likewise for many years the only language he knew so well as to be able to express himself fluently in it; fyis early thoughts were conveyed in it, and it was endeared to him by the pleasures of memory and association. He | wrote it when he had no very extensive ambition, and when he had no suspicion that it would obscure his sentiments, or narrow his fame. Nor, it must be confessed, has he been disappointed in his expectations, if we suppope that they were more enlarged. In England, Ireland, and America, his poems have been read and studied with pleasure and avidity, amidst all the interruptions of glossarial reference. These remarks, however, do not apply to many of his graver poems which are written in English, and in English which proves that he had cultivated that language with attention and success; although he did not conceive it to be adapted to such pieces as he intended, perhaps exclusively, far the use of his humble neighbours, and tagive classic dignity to his native scenery.

It has already been mentioned, that Burns had received a religious education, such as is common to the lower classes in Scotland; and it may be observed, that many of his sentiments run in a devotional strain, while he ’frequently, but not always with equal judgment, introduces the language and imagery of the Holy Scriptures in his writings. It is to be lamented, however, that the religious impressions of his youth were neither so strong nor so durable as to afford him consolation amidst the untoward events of his life. He appears to have been much affected by the bigotry of his neighbours, and has satirized it with peculiar humour; but in this discharge of what he might think was his duty, he overlooked the mean betwixt superstition and unbelief. In his latter days he felt severely the folly of thus removing from one extreme to another; and probably lamented the loss of that happier frame of mind in which he wrote the concluding verses of the “Cotter’s Saturday Night.” Let us hope, however, that his many and frank acknowledgments of error finally ended in that “repentance which is not to be repented of.” It is but justice to add, that he corrected certain improprieties introduced into his early poems; and it was his intention to have revised all his works, and make reparation to the individuals he had been supposed to irritate, or to the subjects he had treated with unbecoming levity. “When we reflect,” says Mr. Mackenzie, “on his rank in life, the habits to which he must have been subject, and the society in which he must have mixed, we regret, perhaps, more than wonder, that delicacy should be so often offended in | perusing a volume in which there is so much to interest and please us.

The character of Burns will still be incomplete, without some notice of his abilities as a prose-writer; for of these we have ample proofs in his familiar correspondence. That his letters were never intended for the public eye, that many of them are mutilated, and that some, perhaps, might have been suppressed, are deductions which do not affect their merit as the effusions of a very uncommon mind, enriched with knowledge far beyond what could have been reasonably expected in his situation. He appears to have cultivated English prose with care, and certainly wrote it with a sprightly fluency. His turns of expression are various and surprizing, and, when treating the most common topics, his sentiments are singular and animated. His letters, however, would have attained a higher portion of graceful expression, and would have been more generally pleasing, had they not been too frequently the faithful transcripts of a disappointed mind, gloomily bent on one set of indignant and querulous reflections. But with this, and another exception which might be made to these letters, from a frequent imitation of the discursive manner of Sterne, they must ever be considered as decided proofs of genius. They contain many admirable specimens of critical acumen, and many flights of humour, and observations on life and manners, which fully justify our belief that, had he cultivated his prose talents only, he might have risen to very high distinction in epistolary or essay writing. Upon the whole, Burns was a man who undoubtedly possessed great abilities with great failings. The former he received from nature, he prized them highly, and he improved them; the latter were exaggerated by circumstances less within his controul, and by disappointments which, trusting to the most liberal encouragement ever offered to genius, he could not have foreseen. They may yet serve to guard ambitious and ardent minds from similar irregularities and wanderings, and to explain why such a man, after the first burst of popular applause was past, lived and died more unhappily than would probably have been the case had he never known what it was to be caressed and admired. 1

1

Abridged from a sketch of his life, written by the editor of this Dictionary, for an edition of his works, 3 vols. 12mo.

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