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A SOLITARY lamp sheds its rays upon the young Count's portrait, upon the marble spiritfaces of Goethe and Schiller. A sleepy fire of early moonlight cleaves the dusk. No sound of distant clarionet or fiddle jars on the ear. Through wide-opened windows streams the air, untainted by wine, millefleurs, patchouli-fresh only with the keen night-odors of the adjacent Wald.

"At last!" says Wolfgang, closing the door behind them, then taking Jeanne's trembling hands and drawing her to his side. "Jeanne, little sweetheart, what have you all been thinking about in Schloss Egmont not to recognize me sooner?"

"To recognize-Mr. Wolfgang!"

"I have been with you, at all hours of the twenty-four, in this very room. (Do you remember the night when Ange imprisoned me here?) Paul von Egmont's name ever on your lips, his portrait ever before your eyes, and yet the truth has not once been suspected! A terrible lesson as to what a dozen years' wear and tear will do for a man."

Thus speaking, Wolfgang places himself beneath the portrait; and suddenly a veil seems lifted from before Jeanne Dempster's sight. The boy's fair cheek has grown bronzed; the hair has lost its brightness; but for the rest-forehead, eyes, expression-all remain unchanged.

A choking sensation rises in the poor child's throat-her limbs tremble. It seems to her as though the earth itself-the good old familiar earth on which she and Wolfgang construed and parsed, quarreled and fell in love together-were melting away beneath her feet. In such a crisis, the first thought of a woman of the world would be that she had gained a wealthy lover. To Jeanne's simple heart the crushing, intolerable dread is, that she may have lost a poor one!

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Count Paul, gnädiger Herr," she is beginning, while a thousand confirmatory trifles, unheeded at the time, rush back in a crowd upon her memory, "how shall I ever ask your forgiveness?"

"You have every reason to feel consciencestricken," he interrupts her. "With Miss Vivash I have been fortunate enough to establish a truce. With Ange I have already made my peace

-our good Ange, who declares that she had intuitions pointing in the right direction from the first moment that she heard my voice. But you -to be rejected after months or weeks of acquaintance would be stab enough to a man's vanity-but you, Jeanne, have rejected me unheard. Oh" (as she tries to stammer forth an excuse), "you think that I can forget what you told me, six hours ago, upon the Zauberfelsen ? You would value a home, a name, all that Von Egmont could offer, not one jot. Miss Vivash might have them freely. Do you say so still?”

"I say that my heart belongs to my master, to Herr Wolfgang," she answers, lifting her face, dyed in loveliest shame, to his. If I had known sooner-"

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That Herr Wolfgang was an impostor, a sham, a pretender, you would have felt toward him as he deserved? Little Jeanne, be pitiful. Remember the evening on the terrace when you told me" (his dark cheek pales) "the story of Paul von Egmont's youth! Remember what cause has made him shrink from returning under his own name to his father's house!

For a few seconds Jeanne is mute. Then, timidly, she rests her hand upon Von Egmont's arm.

"I believe, sir, that I have cared for you a little all my life." (As though to gain courage, she glances up at the friendly, boyish face upon the wall.) "And I know you will continue to be Herr Wolfgang, my master, until the day I die."

He folds her to his breast without another word.

When they reënter the ballroom the violins are playing; the first square dance of the evening has been formed. Kit Marlowe and Lady Pamela stand side by side, best-mated of partners, for a Lancers, or for the somewhat more complicated set of figures called Life. Prince Ernest Waldemar is Beauty's cavalier.

Ill-starred Beauty, regnant, alas! no longer; loverless, friendless, although she leans upon the arm of a prince! With smiles gilding the practiced, painted lip, but with bitterest disappointment, with the remembrance of opportunities lost, gifts misused, natural affections quenched in her heart. . . . So for the present we take our leave of her.


To write with authority about another man, the explanation that the poet was "the most in

we must have fellow-feeling and some common ground of experience with our subject. We may praise or blame according as we find him related to us by the best or worst in ourselves; but it is only in virtue of some relationship that we can be his judges, even to condemn. Feelings which we share and understand enter for us into the tissue of the man's character; those to which we are strangers in our own experience we are inclined to regard as blots, exceptions, inconsistencies, and excursions of the diabolic; we conceive them with repugnance, explain them with difficulty, and raise our hands to heaven in holy wonder when we find them in conjunction with talents that we respect, or virtues that we admire. David, King of Israel, would pass a sounder judgment on a man than either Nathaniel or David Hume. Now, Principal Shairp's recent volume, although I believe no one will read it without respect and interest, has this one capital defect-that there is imperfect sympathy between the author and the subject, between the critic and the personality under criticism. Hence an inorganic, if not an incoherent, presentation of both the poems and the man. Of "Holy Willie's Prayer," Principal Shairp remarks that "those who have loved most what was best in Burns's poetry must have regretted that it was ever written." To the "Jolly Beggars," so far as my memory serves me, he refers but once; and then only to remark on the "strange, not to say painful," circumstance that the same hand which wrote the "Cotter's Saturday Night should have stooped to write the "Jolly Beggars." The "Saturday Night" may or may not be an admirable poem; but its significance is trebled, and the power and range of the poet first appears, when it is set beside the "Jolly Beggars." To take a man's work piecemeal, except with the design of elegant extracts, is the way to avoid, and not to perform, the critic's duty. The same weakness is displayed in the treatment of Burns as a man, which is broken, apologetical, and confused. The man here presented to us is not that Burns, teres atque rotundus-a burly figure in literature, as, from our present vantage of time, we have begun to see him: this, on the other hand, is Burns as he may have appeared to a contemporary clergyman, whom we shall conceive to have been a kind and indulgent but orderly and orthodox person, anxious to be pleased, but too often hurt and disappointed by the behavior of his red-hot protégé, and solacing himself with


consistent of men." If you are so sensibly pained by the misconduct of your subject, and so paternally delighted with his virtues, you will always be an excellent gentleman, but a somewhat questionable biographer. Indeed, we can only be sorry and surprised that Principal Shairp should have chosen a theme so uncongenial. When we find a man writing on Burns, who likes neither "Holy Willie," nor the "Beggars," nor the "Ordination," nothing is adequate to the situation but the old cry of Géronte: “Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère ?" And every merit we find in the book, which is sober and candid in a degree unusual with biographies of Burns, only leads us to regret more heartily that good work should be so far thrown away.


It is far from my intention to tell over again story that has been so often told; but there are certainly some points in the character of Burns that will bear to be brought out, and some chapters in his life that demand a brief rehearsal. The unity of the man's nature, for all its richness, has fallen somewhat out of sight in the pressure of new information and the apologetical ceremony of biographers. Mr. Carlyle made an inimitable bust of the poet's head of gold; may I not be forgiven if my business should have more to do with the feet, which were of clay?


Any view of Burns would be misleading which passed over in silence the influences of his home and his father. That father, William Burnes, after having been for many years a gardener, took a farm, married, and, like an emigrant in a new country, built himself a house with his own hands. Poverty of the most distressing sort, with sometimes the near prospect of a jail, embittered the remainder of his life. Chill, backward, and austere with strangers, grave and imperious in his family, he was yet a man of very unusual parts and of an affectionate nature. On his way through life, he had remarked much upon other men, with more result in theory than practice; and he had reflected upon many subjects as he delved the garden. His great delight was in solid conversation; he would leave his work to talk with the schoolmaster Murdoch; and Robert, when he came home late at night, not only turned aside rebuke, but kept his father two hours beside the fire by the charm of his merry and vigorous talk. Nothing is more characteristic of the class in general, and William Burnes

in particular, than the pains he took to get proper schooling for his boys, and, when that was no longer possible, the sense and resolution with which he set himself to supply the deficiency by his own influence. For many years he was their chief companion; he spoke with them seriously on all subjects as if they had been grown men; at night, when work was over, he taught them arithmetic; he borrowed books for them on history, science, and theology; and he felt it his duty to supplement this last-the trait is laughably Scottish-by a dialogue of his own composition, where his own private shade of orthodoxy was exactly represented. He would go to his daughter, as she staid afield herding cattle, to teach her the names of grasses and wild flowers, or to sit by her side when it thundered. Distance to strangers, deep family tenderness, love of knowledge, a narrow, precise, and formal reading of theology-everything we learn of him hangs well together, and builds up a popular Scotch type. If I mention the name of Andrew Fairservice, it is only as I might couple for an instant Dugald Dalgetty with old Marshal Loudon, to help out the reader's comprehension by a popular but unworthy instance of a class. Such was the influence of this good and wise man, that his household became a school to itself, and neighbors who came into the farm at meal-time would find the whole family, father, brothers, and sisters, helping themselves with one hand, and holding a book in the other. We are surprised at the style of Robert; that of Gilbert need surprise us no less; even William writes a remarkable letter for a young man of such slender opportunities. One anecdote marks the taste of the family, Murdoch bought "Titus Andronicus," and, with such dominie elocution as we may suppose, began to read it aloud before this rustic audience; but when he had reached the passage where Tamora insults unhappy Lavinia, with one voice and "in an agony of distress" they refused to hear it to an end. In such a father and with such a home, Robert had already the making of a famous education; and what Murdoch added, although it may not have been much in amount, was in character the very essence of a literary training. Schools and colleges, for one great man whom they complete, perhaps unmake a dozen; the strong spirit can do well upon more scanty fare.

Robert steps before us, almost from the first, in his complete character-a proud, headstrong, impetuous lad, greedy of pleasure, greedy of notice; in his own phrase, “panting after distinction," and in his brother's, "cherishing a particular jealousy of people who were richer or of more consequence than himself": with all this, emphatically of the artist nature. Already in Tar

bolton church he made a conspicuous figure, with the only tied hair in the parish, "and his plaid, which was of a particular color, wrapped in a particular manner round his shoulders." Ten years later, when a married man, the father of a family, a farmer, and an officer of excise, we shall find him out fishing in masquerade, with fox-skin cap, belted great-coat, and great Highland broadsword. He liked dressing up, in fact, for its own sake. This is the spirit which leads to the extravagant array of Latin Quarter students, and the proverbial velveteen of the English landscape-painter; and, though the pleasure derived is in itself merely personal, it shows a man who is, to say the least of it, not pained by general attention and remark. His father wrote the family name Burnes; Robert early adopted the orthography Burness from his cousin in the Mearns; and in his twenty-eighth year changed it once more to Burns. It is plain that the last transformation was not made without some qualm; for in addressing his cousin he adheres, in at least one more letter, to spelling number two. And this, again, shows a man preoccupied about the manner of his appearance even down to the name, and little willing to follow custom. Again, he was proud, and justly proud, of his powers in conversation. To no other man's have we the same conclusive testimony from different sources and from every rank of life. It is almost a commonplace that the best of his works was what he said in talk. Robertson the historian "scarcely ever met any man whose conversation displayed greater vigor"; the Duchess of Gordon declared that he "carried her off her feet"; and, when he came late to an inn, the servants would get out of bed to hear him talk. But in these early days, at least, he was determined to shine by any means. He made himself feared in the village for his tongue. He would crush weaker men to their faces, or even perhaps-for the statement of Sillar is not absolute-say cutting things of his acquaintances behind their backs. At the church-door, between sermons, he would parade his religious views amid hisses. These details stamp the man. He had no genteel timidities in the conduct of his life. He loved to force his personality upon the world. He would please himself, and shine. Had he lived in the Paris of 1830, and joined his lot with the Romantics, we can conceive him writing "Jehan " for "Jean," swaggering in Gautier's red waistcoat, and horrifying bourgeois in the public café with paradox and gasconade.

A leading trait throughout his whole career was his desire to be in love. Ne fait pas ce tour qui veut. His affections were often enough touched, but perhaps never engaged. He was all his life on a voyage of discovery, but it does

not appear conclusively that he ever touched the happy isle. A man brings to love a deal of ready-made sentiment, and even from childhood obscurely prognosticates the symptoms of this vital malady. Burns was formed for love; he had passion, tenderness, and a singular bent in the direction; he could foresee, with the intuition of an artist, what love ought to be; and he could not conceive a worthy life without it. But he had ill fortune, and was besides so greedy after every shadow of the true divinity, and so much the slave of a strong temperament, that perhaps his nerve was relaxed and his heart had lost the power of self-devotion before an opportunity occurred. The circumstances of his youth doubtless counted for something in the result. For the lads of Ayrshire, as soon as the day's work was over and the beasts were stabled, would take the road, it might be in a winter tempest, and travel perhaps miles by moss and moorland, to spend an hour or two in courtship. Rule X. of the Bachelors' Club at Tarbolton provides that "every man proper for a member of this society must be a professed lover of one or more of the female sex." The rich, as Burns himself points out, may have a choice of pleasurable occupations, but these lads had nothing but their "cannie hour at e'en." It was upon love and flirtation that this rustic society was built; gallantry was the essence of life among the Ayrshire hills as well as in the Court of Versailles; and the days were distinguished from each other by love-letters, meetings, tiffs, reconciliations, and expansions to the chosen confidant, as in a comedy of Marivaux. Here was a field for a man of Burns's indiscriminate personal ambition, where he might pursue his voyage of discovery in quest of true love, and enjoy temporary triumphs by the way. He was constantly the victim of some fair enslaver "—at least, when it was not the other way about; and there were often underplots and secondary fair enslavers in the background. Many-or may we not say most?-of these affairs were entirely artificial. One, he tells us, he began out of "a vanity of showing his parts in courtship," for he piqued himself on his ability at a love-letter. But, however they began, these flames of his were fanned into a passion ere the end; and he stands unrivaled in his power of self-deception, and positively without a competitor in the art, to use his own words, of "battering himself into a warm affection," a debilitating and futile exercise. Once he had worked himself into the vein, "the agitations of his mind and body" were an astonishment to all who knew him. Such a course as this, however pleasant to a thirsty vanity, was lowering to his nature. He sank more and more toward the professional Don Juan. With a leer

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of what the French call fatuity, he bids the belles. of Mauchline beware of his seductions; and the same cheap self-satisfaction finds a yet uglier vent when he plumes himself on the scandal at the birth of his first bastard. We can well believe what we hear of his facility in striking up an acquaintance with women: he would have conquering manners; he would bear down upon his rustic game with the grace that comes of absolute assurance-the Richelieu of Lochlea or Mossgiel. In yet another manner did these quaint ways of courtship help him into fame. If he were great as principal, he was unrivaled as confidant. He could enter into a passion; he could counsel wary moves, being, in his own phrase, so old a hawk-nay, he could turn a letter for some unlucky swain, or even string a few lines of verse that should clinch the business and fetch the hesitating fair one to the ground. Nor, perhaps, was it only his "curiosity, zeal, and intrepid dexterity" that recommended him for a second in such affairs; it must have been a distinction to have the assistance and advice of "Rab the Ranter "; and one who was in no way formidable by himself might grow dangerous and attractive through the fame of his associate.

I think we can conceive him, in these early years, in that rough moorland country, poor among the poor with his seven pounds a year, looked upon with doubt by respectable elders, but for all that the best talker, the best letterwriter, the most famous lover and confidant, the laureate poet, and the only man who wore his hair tied in the parish. He says he had then as high a notion of himself as ever after; and I can well believe it. Among the youth he walked facile princeps, an apparent god; and even if, from time to time, the Reverend Mr. Auld should swoop upon him with the thunders of the Church, and, in company with seven others, Rab the Ranter must figure some fine Sunday on the stool of repentance, would there not be a sort of glory, an infernal apotheosis, in so conspicuous a shame? Was not Richelieu in disgrace more idolized than ever by the dames of Paris; and when was the highwayman most acclaimed but on his way to Tyburn? Or, to take a simile from nearer home, and still more exactly to the point, what could even corporal punishment avail, administered by a cold, abstract, unearthly schoolmaster, against the influence and fame of the school's hero?

And now we come to the culminating point of Burns's early period. He began to be received into the unknown upper world. His fame soon spread from among his fellow rebels on the benches, and began to reach the ushers and monitors of this great Ayrshire academy. This arose in part from his lax views about religion;

for at this time that old war of the creeds and confessors, which is always grumbling from end to end of our poor Scotland, brisked up in these parts into a hot and virulent skirmish; and Burns found himself identified with the opposition party, a clique of roaring lawyers and half-heretical divines, with wit enough to appreciate the value of the poet's help, and not sufficient taste to moderate his grossness and personality. We may judge of their surprise when "Holy Willie" was put into their hand; like the amorous lads of Tarbolton, they recognized in him the best of seconds. His satires began to go the round in manuscript; Mr. Aiken, one of the lawyers, "read him into fame"; he himself was soon welcome in many houses of a better sort, where his admirable talk, and his manners, which he had direct from his Maker except for a brush he gave them at a country dancing-school, completed what his poems had begun. We have a sight of him at his first visit to Adamhill, in his plowman's shoes, coasting around the carpet as though that were sacred ground. But he soon grew used to carpets and their owners; and he was still the superior of all whom he encountered, and ruled the roost in conversation. Such was the impression made that a young clergyman, himself a man of ability, trembled and became confused when he saw Robert enter the church in which he was to preach. It is not surprising that the poet determined to publish he had now stood the test of some publicity; and, under this hopeful impulse, he composed in six winter months the bulk of his more important poems. Here was a young man who, from a very humble place, was mounting rapidly; from the cynosure of a parish, he had become the talk of a country; once the bard of rural courtships, he was now about to appear as a bound and printed poet in the world's bookshops.

A few more intimate strokes are necessary to complete the sketch. This strong young plowman, who feared no competitor with the flail, suffered like a fine lady from sleeplessness and vapors; he would fall into the blackest melancholies, and be filled with remorse for the past and terror for the future. He was still not perhaps devoted to religion, but haunted by it; and at a touch of sickness prostrated himself before God in what I can only call unmanly penitence. As he had aspirations beyond his place in the world, so he had tastes, thoughts, and weaknesses to match. He loved to walk under a wood to the sound of a winter tempest; he had a singular tenderness for animals; he carried a book with him in his pocket when he went abroad, and wore out in this service two copies of "The Man of Feeling." With young people in the field at work he was very long-suffering;

and when his brother Gilbert spoke sharply to them-"O man, ye are no for young folk," he would say, and give the defaulter a helping hand and a smile. In the hearts of the men whom he met, he read as in a book; and, what is yet more rare, his knowledge of himself equaled his knowledge of others. There are no truer things said of Burns than what is to be found in his own letters. Country Don Juan as he was, he had none of that blind vanity which values itself in what it is not; he knew his own strength and weakness to a hair; he took himself boldly for what he was, and, except in moments of hypochondria, declared himself content.


On the night of Mauchline races, 1785, the young men and women of the place joined in a penny ball, according to their custom. In the same set danced Jean Armour, the master-mason's daughter, and our dark-eyed Don Juan. His dog (not the immortal Luath, but a successor unknown to fame, caret quia vate sacro), apparently sensible of some neglect, followed his master to and fro, to the confusion of the dancers. Some mirthful comments followed; and Jean heard the poet say to his partner-or, as I should imagine, laughingly launch the remark to the company at large-that "he wished he could get any of the lasses to like him as well as his dog." Some time after, as the girl was bleaching clothes on Mauchline green, Robert chanced to go by, still accompanied by his dog; and the dog, "scouring in long excursion," scampered with four black paws across the linen. This brought the two into conversation; when Jean, with a somewhat hoydenish advance, inquired if "he had yet got any of the lasses to like him as well as his dog?" It is one of the misfortunes of the professional Don Juan that his honor forbids him to refuse battle; he is in life like the Roman soldier upon duty, or like the sworn physician who must attend on all diseases. Burns accepted the provocation; hungry hope reawakened in his heart; here was a girl, pretty, simple at least if not honestly stupid, and plainly not averse to his attentions: it seemed to him once more as if love might here be waiting him. Had he but known the truth! for this facile and empty-headed girl had nothing more in view than a flirtation; and her heart from the first and on to the end of her story was engaged by another man. Burns once more commenced the celebrated process of "battering himself into a warm affection"; and the proofs of his success are to be found in many verses of the period. Nor did he succeed with himself only; Jean, with her heart still elsewhere, succumbed to his fascination, and early in the

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