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Robert Burns Famous Scots Series   By: (1861-1930)

Robert Burns Famous Scots Series by Gabriel Setoun

First Page:

ROBERT BURNS

[Illustration:

ROBERT BURNS

BY GABRIEL SETOUN

FAMOUS ·SCOTS· ·SERIES·

PUBLISHED BY OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER · EDINBURGH AND LONDON

]

The designs and ornaments of this volume are by Mr. Joseph Brown, and the printing from the press of Morrison & Gibb Limited, Edinburgh.

June 1896.

CONTENTS

PAGE

CHAPTER I

BIRTH AND EDUCATION 7

CHAPTER II

LOCHLEA AND MOSSGIEL 25

CHAPTER III

THE SERIES OF SATIRES 40

CHAPTER IV

THE KILMARNOCK EDITION 56

CHAPTER V

THE EDINBURGH EDITION 73

CHAPTER VI

BURNS'S TOURS 92

CHAPTER VII

ELLISLAND 111

CHAPTER VIII

DUMFRIES 128

CHAPTER IX

SUMMARY AND ESTIMATE 148

ROBERT BURNS

CHAPTER I

BIRTH AND EDUCATION

Of the many biographies of Robert Burns that have been written, most of them laboriously and carefully, perhaps not one gives so luminous and vivid a portrait, so lifelike and vigorous an impression of the personality of the poet and the man, as the picture the author has given of himself in his own writings. Burns's poems from first to last are, almost without exception, the literary embodiment of his feelings at a particular moment. He is for ever revealing himself to the reader, even in poems that might with propriety be said to be purely objective. His writings in a greater degree than the writings of any other author are the direct expression of his own experiences; and in his poems and songs he is so invariably true to himself, so dominated by the mood of the moment, that every one of them gives us some glimpse into the heart and soul of the writer. In his letters he is rarely so happy; frequently he is writing up to certain models, and ceases to be natural. Consequently we often miss in them the character and spirituality that is never absent from his poetry. But his poems and songs, chronologically arranged, might make in themselves, and without the aid of any running commentary, a tolerably complete biography. Reading them, we note the development of his character and the growth of his powers as a poet; we can see at any particular time his attitude towards the world, and the world's attitude towards him; we have, in fine, a picture of the man in his relations to his fellow man and in relation to circumstances, and may learn if we will what mark he made on the society of his time, and what effect that society had on him. And that surely is an important essential of perfect biography.

But otherwise the story of Burns's life has been told with such minuteness of detail, that the internal evidence of his poetry would seem only to be called in to verify or correct the verdict of tradition and the garbled gossip of those wise after the fact of his fame. It is so easy after a man has compelled the attention of the world to fill up the empty years of his life when he was all unknown to fame, with illustrative anecdotes and almost forgotten incidents, revealed and coloured by the light of after events! This is a penalty of genius, and it is sometimes called fame, as if fame were a gift given of the world out of a boundless and unintelligent curiosity, and not the life record of work achieved. It is easier to collect ana and to make them into the patchwork pattern of a life than to read the character of the man in his writings; and patchwork, of necessity, has more of colour than the homespun web of a peasant poet... Continue reading book >>




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