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trary to God's higher law. The married pair, it would seem, had been united for some years; yet no offspring had been granted to their prayers. It was now that, while living in the utmost retirement, in an obscure street, the husband introduced to his wife an old Scotch nurse, bearing in her arms a newborn child. This child, said by him to be the posthumous son of a dear friend recently deceased, he represented it was his interest to adopt, and produce to the world as his own. To insure his wife's aid in the project, he carefully concealed from her whatever deep-laid schemes were working in his own mind -made very light of the affair-asserted that it was but to serve a temporary purpose, and that, the object in furtherance of which this singular deception was to be carried on once attained, the whole thing should be revealed.
A quick instinct of wrong, in the mind of the young wife, made her at first hesitate; but the recollection of that strict abnegation of her own will to which she had vowed herself, at last prevailed over her scruples, and the pleading looks of the helpless little orphan, lying safe and warm within her arms, melting her soul, she took the forlorn babe to her bosom, and bestowed upon it heartily a mother's care.
The child proved sickly, a weary burden to any but a real mother; yet its fosterparent, though young and unused to such a charge, never for a moment shrunk from the responsibility she had incurred. The consequence naturally was, that the boy learned to love her strongly and entirely. But towards his reputed father he at all times evinced a most strange and unaccountable aversion, amounting to an instinctive horror and shrinking from his pre
When the child had grown to be about a year old, Mr. A-, the gentleman in question, his plans now apparently matured, resolved at once to introduce his protege to his family, as his own legitimately born son and heir. Mr. A-g was a descendant of one of the old border families, renowned in history for many a raid and many a foray across the English frontier, and, judging from his deeds, the unscrupulous character and adventurous spirit of the early freebooter would seem to have been transmitted down through many generations, little modified by the march of centuries. And now came the poor wife's trial. In her husband's home, and under the eyes of his kindred and household, she was soon doomed to feel bitterly how a single deception inevitably leads to numerous others, and how one falsehood entails the necessity of a thousand more to follow in its wake. A mother in seeming, yet no mother in truth, her entire ignorance concerning all that related to the birth of her supposed child became a subject of ridicule with the female members of the family. Sooner or later betrayal seemed inevitable. Nor was this all: the worst was to come. No sooner had the imposture been carried out successfully, than the young wife found herself about to become a mother. Here was a new involvement. She had, then, given up the birthright of her own child in favor of a stranger! It was true that the fact of the imposition of the adopted child could be proved, but what humiliation must accompany such a confession—what a heart-wearing tissue of law-proceedings might not be entailed by the admission! To the married pair, years of torturing anxiety and strange discord followed. Heart-burnings of many kinds unavoidably arose out of a state of things so unnatural. The real son became a secondary consideration in the household, the very servants seeking favor with the presumed heir, and looking down on the “younger brother.”
All this time the mystery was still maintained. Whence the adopted had come, and to whom he belonged of right was throughout kept a guarded secret from the wife—her husband's solitary admission to her being to the effect, that the boy's mother was a lady of noble birth: of the father he never spoke. Meanwhile, Mr. A-g made frequent and sudden journeys from home, no one knew whither or for what purpose, always returning as unexpectedly as he had departed.After these absences he was observed to be gloomy, nay, almost fierce in his temper, his irritation showing itself especially towards the child of his adoption, between whom and himself a mortal antipathy appeared to exist, and to increase with the boy's years. What might have been the issue in after-years, it is needless to surmise. The Gordian-knot of all this evil was suddenly and unaccountably cut by that unseen Hand, which has undone many another coil of mischief in the world. One day the adopted child was found drowned in Mr. A
-g's estate. There was a hurried and unsatisfactory inquest held on the body, and all was done. Through one breast—that of the wife a secret shudder ran. A sickness as of death fell upon the heart of her who alone knew what hidden temptation might have lain in wait, like the weird sisters of Macbeth, urging on the man with whom her fate was bound up to the commission of " a deed without a name.” From that hour a blight fell over the fated house. The very rooks, so my informant told me, disappeared from their customary haunts. Mysterious sights and sounds visited at eerie-hours the old border mansion. Nay, report even went so far as to say, that the phantom of a
ghastly child rose up from time to time before the eyes of Mr. A— g's descendants, as if the soul of the departed refused to rest until the secret of its birth, or perhaps of its death, was revealed. But to this day all is enveloped in mystery. It is true that the bare fact of the imposition of such a child in place of a real heir, in course of time, and after the death of Mr. A- -8, got rumored abroad; but the actual parentage of the ill-fated victim of the imposture remained, and will now doubtless forever remain, among the catalogue of those guarded secrets which the grave refuses to render up.
THE LAND OF THE BLEST.
ROBERT BURNS. No princely palace ever claimed him as an inmate. The gray ruins of no proud baronial castle lie piled upon the spot of his birth. No courtly splendor shone around his boyhood's home. No pleasure-grounds or festive banquets spread out around him to invite a life of luxurious ease, or grant an hour of serene meditation. No courtiers or philosophers no great spirits were his companions to direct his aims or tutor his aspiring genius. The little cabin, with its rude clay walls and frail covering, curling its smoke in the lowly valley of the sons of toil, is where the sweetest bard that ever breathed the soothing strain, first hailed the aurora dawn of existence. Dark were the clouds, and dismal were the storms and blighting rains that severally assailed the lonely cot of Burns. The cold and chilly winds of misfortune and squalid poverty, with their attendant scenes, made his life a Drama, the saddest ever witnessed; and a Reality, the gloomiest and most awful that ever surged along the rock-bound shores of time.
The always busy world, with its sneering smiles and grayheaded parasites; the vain pets of fortune-powdered lords, frizzled dames, and yearners after political and social inequality, passed him quickly by, lest the upbraiding voice of conscience should whisper to them the sorrows of a ploughman. Surrounded by such circumstances-dashed to and fro by every rude hand of neglect upon the foam-roaring sea of change, in intimate connection with his melancholy constitution, is it strange that his fragile bark was swept furiously along and at last wrecked against the shoals of immorality. Yet even amid his heaviness of soul-dejection-even when the gloomy night was gathering fast"-when dusky shadows hung with ominous significance around him, the fire of intellect blazed brightly, and the majesty of truth was still the coronal of his character.
Here now there is a pause in his life. With faltering spirit he hesitates whether or not to strike his harp and sing his mournful strain. He is alone in his smoky and dreary abode. The flashing orb has long since tinged the mountain crest with his departing glance; the toils of the long day are ended, and now despondent and tire-worn, Burns sits in pensive silence by the “ingle-check" "and backward mused on wasted time." In his own expressive words, "half mad, half fed, half sarket," he raised his "waukit loof" to swear by yon starry world that henceforth he would be rythm proof, when lo his Scottish muse glides into the “mottie misty clime”-stops his reckless vows-drops upon him her holly-bough—baptizes him with holy unction
“And like a passing thought she fled
In light away." Here was the great transition of the rustic bard; one that not only affected himself but also had an essential bearing with the whole current of British Literature; and a transition that added a brilliant luminary to that galaxy of genius who penned burning lines in their island home. Here was again evinced the beaming splendor of the God-like mind, and here was another triumph of that gift that emanates from the throne of the Incarnate Eternal.
The poetry of Burns is exhibited under two different forms, yet both running into each other, and centering in one normal ascendancy. His external genius, or that of nature ; his internal genius, or that of the passions. He had none of the characteristics of Thompson, Shenstone, Gray, or that royal poetic fire of the ill-fated Byron, or the glorious ideal of the gifted son of Germany. He tuned his lyre not to the praise of ancient days. He gazed not at the azure radiance that encircled and played around the city of the Seven Hills”-wandered not among the hallowed memorials of time-honored Greece. He recalled not the feudal winter with its scholastic celebrity; painted not the gallant deeds of the iron-mailed knight, or the unsurpassed prowess of the christian warrior. These, though golden themes, pleased him not. He narrated things of his present, not of the past. · He loved his own native dells too deeply to venture so far away. He reverenced too highly the taste and disposition of his countrymen, ever to tune his lyre in any other
than the wild romantic scenery of his own majestic Scotland. The power of Burns lay in his giant originality- , the keenness of his intellectual sight, in close union with the sincerity of his heart. From this "Valclusa Fountain" gushed warm waters enriching the material theater with a mild and tranquil halo even in the most rugged parts. His observant disposition, his piercing dark eye and prolific endowments, mark him as a finished emblem of naturalness and variety. Ever awake to high and noble emotions, his mind grasped with masterpotency the sublime and mighty operations of nature, depicted them in life-like colors—in tints of the richest hue, yet always firm to the original—all that was wild, grand and terrible in the rougher march of the seasons, gathered still loftier magnificence when they moved in the strange land of Burns. The lowering storm impregnated with direful wailings, moving its