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God keep thee frae thy mother's faes,
Or turn their hearts to thee;
Remember him for me!
( soon, to me, may summer suns
Nae mair light up the morn!
Wave o'er the yellow corn!
Let winter round me rave;
Bloom on my peaceful grave. Burns, of whom I entertain a vivid and cherished recollection, from having met him more than once whilst resident in Edinburgh, during the years 1786-7-8 and 9, is one of those few poets who, from the strength and originality with which they have painted the emotions of their own breasts, have built for themselves an ever-during mansion in the human heart. Though alloyed, indeed, with many errors and frailties which cannot be too much regretted, there glowed in the bosom of the Scottish bard a spirit of the most generous and ardent philanthropy, nor was ever man of genius, I believe, more thoroughly beloved by his relatives and friends.
Of a character of this description, every trait, however minute, is interesting ; nor can I well describe the melancholy pleasure which I felt from reading the following recent account, written, I believe, by Allan Cunningham, of the indisposition, last moments, and death of this admirable poet. It is drawn up from personal knowledge and intimacy, and in a tone of feeling and truth which leaves not a doubt of its fidelity.
“ The first time I ever saw Burns,” says the amiable writer, “ was in Nithsdale. I was then a child, but his looks and his voice cannot well be forgotten; and while I write this I behold him as distinctly as I did when I stood at my father's knee, and heard the bard repeat his Tam O'Shanter. He was tall, and of a manly make; his brow broad and high; and his voice varied with the character of his inimitable tale; yet through all its variations it was melody itself. He was of great personal strength, and proud too of displaying it; and I have seen him lift a load with ease which few ordinary men would have willingly undertaken.-
66 The last time I saw Burns in life was on his return from the Brow-well of Solway. He had been ailing all spring, and summer had come with
out bringing health with it; he had gone away very ill, and he returned worse. He was brought back, I think, in a covered spring cart; and when he alighted at the foot of the street in which he lived he could scarce stand upright. He reached his own door with difficulty. He stooped much, and there was a visible change in his looks. Some may think it not unimportant to know that he was at that time dressed in a blue coat, with the undress nankeen pantaloons of the volunteers, and that his neck, which was inclining to be short, caused his hat to turn up behind, in the manner of the shovel hats of the episcopal clergy. Truth obliges me to add that he was not fastidious about his dress; and that an officer, curious in the personal appearance and equipments of his company, might have questioned the military nicety of the poet's clothes and
But his colonel was a maker of rhyme, and the poet had to display more charity for his commander's verse than the other had to exercise when he inspected the clothing and arms of the careless bard.
“ From the day of his return home till the hour of his untimely death, Dumfries was like a besieged place. It was known he was dying, and the anxiety,
not of the rich and the learned only, but of the mechanics and peasants, exceeded all belief. Whereever two or three people stood together, their talk was of Burns and of him alone; they spoke of his history, of his person, of his works, of his family, of his fame, and of his untimely and approaching fate, with a warmth and an enthusiasm which will ever endear Dumfries to my remembrance. All that he said or was saying, the opinions of the physicians (and Maxwell was a kind and a skilful one) were eagerly caught up, and reported from street to street, and from house to house,
“ His good humour was unruffled, and his wit never forsook him. He looked to one of his fellow volunteers with a smile, as he stood by the bedside with his eyes wet, and said, “John, don't let the awkward squad fire over me.' He was aware that death was dealing with him. He asked a lady who visited him, more in sincerity than in mirth, what commands she had for the other world. He repressed with a smile the hopes of his friends, and told them he had lived long enough. As his life drew near a close, the eager yet decorous solicitude of his fellow townsmen increased. He was exciseman, it is true- -a name odious, from many
associations, to his countrymen-but he did his duty meekly and kindly, and repressed rather than encouraged the desire of some of his companions to push the law with severity; he was therefore much beloved, and the passion of the Scots for poetry made them regard him as little lower than a spirit inspired. It is the practice of the young men of Dumfries to meet in the streets during the hours of remission from labour, and by these means I had an opportunity of witnessing the general solicitude of all ranks and of al; ages. His differences with them in some important parts of human speculation and religious hope were forgotten and forgiven ; they thought only of his genius-of the delight his compositions had diffused—and they talked of him with the same awe as of some departing spirit, whose voice was to gladden them no more. His last moments have never been described : he had laid his head quietly on the pillow awaiting dissolution, when his attendant reminded him of his medicine, and held the cup to his lip. He started suddenly up, drained the cup at a gulp, threw his hands before him like a man about to swim, and sprung from head to foot of the bed-fell with his face down, and expired with a groan.