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taken from Fergusson's Farmer's Ingle: but "Hugh Haliburton" does not exaggerate in stating that the influence of Shenstone's Schoolmistress, written in the same Spenserian stanza is quite as manifest. Indeed the tone of the Cottar's Saturday Night, in no respect resembles that of the Farmer's Ingle, the evening there being spent in merry cracks, and in hearing wizard tales, &c., whereas the Saturday night depicted by Burns possesses all the solemnity of a Sunday evening-all being grave and didactic. The poem, in short, is filled with the sentimentalism and sensibility of the eighteenth century English poets. It is largely a mosaic of sentiments and expressions, borrowed from Collins, Goldsmith, Gray, Pope, Shenstone Thomson, and even Milton, as has been minutely pointed out by various critics. The only other instance of Burns's use of the Spenserian stanza is an early religious piece, “Stanzas written in prospect of Death," and it would thus seem that he deemed it specially suited for the treatment of a solemn theme. The measure is not however adapted for the homely Scottish vernacular, although the more vernacular stanzas as III and XI are undoubtedly the least laboured and the most vivid. But the poem's wide popularity is due rather to its eloquent exposition of the pious aspect of lower class life, than to any exceptional poetic excellence. The sentiments are too much of the common-place, pattern order, to be distinctively those of Burns; and he had to cull them from a great variety of poetic sources. The scene depicted is also too much idealized. None knew better than Burns the sordid hardships of the cotter's lot; none at heart was more discontented with such a lot; and to represent the cotter's happiness as the highest and purest possible on earth, the cotter's morality and piety as superior to those in better circumstances, and his crude attempts to chant the sombre music of the metrical psalms, as far more commendable than the noblest performance of the most renowned musicians (though the latter opinion may be explained by the current prejudice against Italian music), savours merely of bathos. Yet consummate artistic skill is manifested in welding the borrowed sentimentalisms into a poetic unity; and although, as a whole, the poem is essentially commonplace, and occasionally unreal, in tone, the felicity of expression is undeniable, even if much of it be merely a modification of borrowed phrases. Artistically the poem is mainly of interest as an elaborate, but abortive, effort to harmonize the vernacular methods with those of the eighteenth century English poets. The mo complete list of Analogies is that in Ritter's Quellenstudien obert Burn

Burns, Poems.


1901. pp, 95-108; but in some of the cases there mentioned the phraseology would naturally occur to Burns. For example he was bound to refer to the "ingle” and the “clean hearth-stane" &c. These were what he himself was accustoned to see. Certain similarities to Thomson and Fergusson is Stanzas XX and XXI are also of a very general kind. The thought is, in fact, of a very simple and commonplace variety. It might occur to any one; but the noble phraseology in the two last Stanzas is mainly Burns's own.



HIS AULD MARE MAGGIE. This delightful address, in which the auld farmer furnishes unconscionsly, a graphic biography of himself as well as of his "Auld mare,” is more purely, and even ruggedly, vernacular in language than the majority of Burns' pieces. It was probably, written in the early spring of 1786. Stanza I, 1. I. "A guid New-Year”:--NewYear's day is the principal festival day of Scotland, and for many generations it has been the custom to "hansel it in” by mutual offers and acceptances of glasses of liquor. The Auld farmer, in the case of his mare, substitutes, as a first gift, a ripp of corn,

Stanza VI, 1. 5. “Kyle Stewart":– Kyle, one of the ancient districts of Ayr is separated by the river Ayr into two divisions, Kyle Stewart to the north, and King's Kyle to the south. The name "Kyle” is supposed to derive from a traditional Pictish regulus, the "Auld king Coil” of the song.


John Lapraik (1727–1807) was a small proprietor who by the failure of the Ayr Bank in 1772 lost his fortune. The song “When I upon thy bosom lean,” commemorates a similar misfortune. A song very similar to Lapraik's appeared in Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine 11th October 1773, but Lapraik may have sent his song there, and the editor may have altered it. The theory that Lapraik copied his song from that in the Weekly Magazine is therefore unproved-though it is better than any of the other pieces included in Lapraik's Poems on Several Occasions, 1787.

Burns' Epistle is modelled on the epistolary correspondence between Hamilton of Gilbertfield and Allan Ramsay (included in all

editions of Allan Ramsay's Poems), who were the first to make use of Sempill's stave for this purpose.

Stanze II, I. 1. "a rockin":-On this term Gilbert Burns remarks:-“Derived from those primitive times, when the countrywomen employed their spare hours in spinning on the rock or distaff. This simple implement is a very portable one, and well fitted on the social inclination of meeting in a neighbours house; hence the phrase of going a-rocking or with the rock.”

Stanza XVIII. Cf. the last stanza of Ramsay's First Reply to Hamilton:

“To Ed’nburgh, Sir, whene'er ye come,
I'll wait upon ye, there's my thumb,
Were't frae the gill-bells to the drum,

And tak' about,
And faith I hope we'll not sit dumb,

Nor yet cast out." See also several stanzas of Hamilton's First Epistle, beginning :

“Now tho' I should baith reel and rottle,
And be as light as Aristotle,

At Edinburgh we sall hae a bottle" &c.
Stanza XXII. Compare the first stanza of Hamilton's Second

“When I receiv'd thy Kind epistle
It made me dance and sing and whistle;
O sic a fike and sic a fistle

I had about it!
That e'er was knight of the Scots thistle

Sae fain, I doubted."



This remarkable example of self portraiture, with which Burns concluded his 1786 edition, was no doubt inspired by the forebodings created by his gloomy circumstances and the Armour entanglement.


ADDRESS TO EDINBURGH. Burns reached Edinburgh on the evening of 28th November 1786, travelling on horse back from Ayrshire by Douglas, Carnwarth and Slateford. By this route by far the best view is obtained of the castle, which, as it met his direct gaze, for many miles is graphically and nobly delineated in the fifth-which is by far the best-stanza of the poem. The other stanzas, rather hackneyed in sentiment, are redeemed by a certain dignity—if also partial stiltedness-of expression, and by the easy Flow of the versification, the mastery of the ballat royal stanza being here much more complete than in The Lament The personification of social influences, mental qualities &c. as Wealth, Justice, Learning and so forth, was a special convention of the eighteenth century English poets, the poem being no doubt intended as a compliment to his Edinburgh patrons.

Stanza IV, l. 4. “Fair Burnet":—“Fair B-” wrote Burns to Chalmers “is heavenly Miss Burnet, daughter of Lord Monbodo, at whose house I had the honour to be more than once. There has not been anything nearly like her, in all the combinations of Beauty, Grace and Goodness the Great Creator has formed, since Milton's Eve on the first day of her existence"-a declaration which hopelessly confounds Milton with the “Great Creator"! After Miss Burnet's death from consumption, 12th June 1790, Burns commemorated her in an English Elegy, which was long on the anvil, and about whose merits he expressed himself with deserved diffidence.

Stanza VI. The “Siately dome" of this stanza is Holyrood Palace, which the last of the direct Stuart line to occupy was Prince Charlie in the' 45.

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A compliment to William Creech (1745 – 1815), Burn's Edinburgh publisher. The poem, dated Selkirk 13th May 1787, was written by Burns during his tour in the south of Scotland, and sent to Creech during a visit of the latter to London.

Stanza I, 1. 1. “Auld Reekie" (old Smoky] was the common name-of a very ancient date-given by the country people to Edinburgh. Cf. Ramsay's Elegy on Maggy Johnston:

"Auld Reeky mourn in sable hue." Stanza V, 1. 1. “The commerce-chaumer"— The Edinburgh chamber of commerce had, the previous year, been founded by Creech.

Stanza VI, l. 1. "his levee door":-Creech was accustomed to hold literary Breakfasts, which came to be known as "Creech's levees."

Stanza VII. Those five representatives of intellectual Edinburgh were:-(1) Professor James Gregory (1753-1821) the famous Professor of Medicine, much given to support his opinions by Latin quotations; (2) A. F. Tytler (1747–1813), then Professor of Civil History and afterwards a lord of session as Lord Woodhouselee—a special literary adviser of Burns and responsible for some "so-called” corrections in the later Edinburgh editions; (3) William Greenfield, then professor of rhetoric, whose reputation in 1798 underwent sudden eclipse; (4) Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831), whose Man of Feeling Burns, during the sentimental period of 1783, "prized next to the Bible,” and who contributed a warm appreciation of Burns's Kilmarnock volume to The Lounger of 9th December 1786; and (5) Dugald Stewart (1753—1828), Professor of Moral Philosophy, whose acquaintance Burns had previously made at his summer residence of Catrine, miles southeast of Mauchline:

“Learning and Worth in equal measure trode
From simple Catrine, their long-lov'd abode.”


TO A HAGGIS. A haggis is a pudding, consisting of the sheep's heart, liver and lungs mixed with onions and oatmeal, and boiled in a sheep's stomach. From time immemorial it has been a favourite dish of the Scottish poorer classes. Dunbar has recourse to it to illustrate the poverty of his poetic rival, Kennedy:

"The gallows gapis efter thy graceless gruntle,

As thou would for a haggis, hungry gled.” Its elevation to pre-eminence as the chief national dish of Scotland, for rich and poor alike, is an innovation consequent on Burns's Address.

Stanza IV, I. 1. 'Horn for horn (spoon for spoon]:- The peasant custom was to sup in common out of one dish, placed in the middle of the table.


ELEGY ON CAPTAIN MATTHEW HENDERSON. The subject of this elegy was a retired lieutenant of the Earl of Home's regiment, whose acquaintance Burns had made in the convivial clubs of Edinburgh. Similarities in Method to Ramsay and Fergusson may be traced throughout the poem, and there are

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