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analysis and explanation of some of the most curious pheno. mena of thought and feeling, were not more famous among his contemporaries than the eloquence of his diction and the charm of his style. His lectures at Edinburgh drew pupils from all parts of the world. Young men of the noblest families of England, who were destined for public life, were sent to Edinburgh to be under his care, and to be trained by him in the principles of moral and political science.
Robert Burness was very soon brought into contact with the great philosopher and man of letters. The glen of Catrine, through which the river Ayr runs, near Mauchline, was, as we know, one of the favourite haunts of the ploughman after his day's work was done. He came to Mossgiel with some reputation as a country rhymester, and seems to have attracted Stewart's attention in that capacity. If we assume that the professor of moral philosophy had amused his leisure by producing some poems in the Ayrshire dialect, with which, of course, he was familiar from his youth, and if many of those poems had been of a character which it was hardly seemly for à professor of moral philosophy to father, we can easily conceive that the idea may have suggested itself to him of publishing these poems under the name of the Ayrshire peasant, who was already known as a maker of rhymes. Be this as it may, there is no doubt that when the poems were printed at Kilmarnock, and published in June of 1786, Dugald Stewart was close at hand in Catrine. The Edinburgh session ended in April, and did not re-commence till November, and the long summer vacation was spent by Stewart in his Ayrshire home. If this suggestion be adopted, it explains many difficulties. It explains the classical allusions, and the references to philosophy, ancient and modern. It explains Artemisia and Boconnock, and all the other recondite allusions, which indicate the extensive reading of a scholar. It explains how the name Robert Burness suddently became Robert Burns. Above all, it explains the pathetic lines, otherwise so impossible of explanation.
“ Alas! I'm but a nameless wight,
Trod in the mire out o’sight. For, if Robert Burns was but another form of "Robert Burness," the author was certainly not nameless—but if Robert Burns was a name under which that of Dugald Stewart
was to be for ever extinguished, we can understand the pathos of the lamentation. That Robert Burness and Dugald Stewart were from henceforth closely associated, is a fact known to all who are familiar with the life of either. Dugald Stewart certainly took great pains to conceal his authorship of the poems, if author he really was. We find him entertaining Robert Burness at Catrine, in October, 1786, and introducing him to his pupil, Lord Daer, as the veritable poet. But anyone who reads with attention the lines which
which were afterwards addressed to Lord Daer in honour of the occasion, will see at once that they were not written by a ploughman, unaccustomed to the suciety of gentlemen, 'a nd abashed by finding himself in the presence of a lord. They are written with the ease, self-possession, and dignity of a gentleman and a man of the world, who met his lordship as one gentleman meets another, and treated him with the respect, and no more than the respect, due to his rank.
When Dugald Stewart returned to Edinburgh, in November of 1786, he took the Kilmarnock volume with him, and handed it over to his friend Henry Mackenzie (the “Man of Feeling") for review. We can only guess whether he gave his friend any hint as to the real authorship of the volume : but, if he did, the secret was loyally kept, though the warmth with which Mackenzie praised a volume which violated all his Addisonian standards of taste and canons of criticism, excited much surprise both at the time and since.
Stewart, shortly afterwards, brought Burness, or Burns as he henceforth called himself, to Edinburgh, and introduced him to his literary friends as a sort of phenomenon of genius. But he soon found his peasant friend somewhat embarrassing as a neighbour in Edinburgh. He was scandalized by “Burns's predilection for convivial and not very select society.”
We have heard of something of the same kind in the case of the Stratford player. But Shakspere ended his days at Stratford in peace, and comfort, and good fame, whilst poor Burns's “predilection for convivial and not very select society” grew upon him, till it ended in the tragedy of his death at Dumfries, from exposure after a drunken orgy.
It is a curious thing, however, that whatever the professor of moral philosophy may have thought of Burns's habits and
manners he found it necessary to maintain a close connection with him till the day of his death. We find that he became a member of the same Masonic lodge with Burns, at Mauchline, in 1787. The spectacle of the university professor and country gentleman joining a village lodge with ploughmen and shop. keepers is certainly a curious one. He saw Burns regularly and constantly when he returned to Catrine after the labour of the session, and he kept up a correspondence with him till the end.
I might strengthen the evidence for my theory as to the authorship of these famous poems almost indefinitely by adducing specimens of the numerous parallels both in thought and expression between the poems and the acknowledged writings of Dugald Stewart. There is hardly a page which Stewart has written on the memory, the imagination, the association of ideas—upon remorse, and hope, and fear, and joy, which could not be aptly illustrated and paralleled by passages from the
poems. But this would occupy much more time and space than are at present at my disposal ; and those who take an interest in such questions as these, will easily satisfy themselves by a few hours' examination, that many of the most characteristic thoughts and feelings of the poet are developed and analyzed in the works of the philosopher. This letter aims at nothing more than to suggest that there are other literary problems besides the authorship of Shakespeare that call for investigation, and nobody need be surprised if investigation should end in exposing the pretensions of the Ayrshire ploughman, just as it has exposed the greater pretensions of the Stratford play-actor.
Yours, very truly,
ANOTHER COUNTY COURT JUDGE.
DR. BUNBURY AND HIS NEIGHBOURS,
RISH Catholics should rather rejoice than regret that Dr.
Bunbury, the Protestant Bishop of Limerick, spoke as he did in the Synodal Address, delivered by him recently in Tralee. As an attack, his address can only help those whom it was meant to harm, and harm those it was meant to help. Catholics, nevertheless, especially those of Limerick, who tendered to him a spontaneous congratulation when he became a Bishop, must regret for his own sake that he should be the first to mar the friendly feeling which they thus sought to cultivate with him, and with those who acknowledge his authority.
His justly revered predecessor delivered many Synodal addresses during his long life, but he never, so far as I know, thought it necessary to speak as Dr. Bunbury has spoken. I don't know that all Protestants were pleased with his conciliatory disposition, but I do know that Catholics held him in esteem whilst he was amongst them, and showed their sorrow when he was gone. But then Dr. Graves was a man whose personality made him independent of the polemical tendency of Synodsmen, and he had no need to fear their frown or court their favour. According to the Constitution of the Church of Ireland, made at the General Convention of 1870, the Protestant Synod of Limerick consists of thirteen clergymen and twenty-one laymen. Dr. Bunbury may, perhaps, be disposed to reciprocate that expression of good-will manifested towards him by the unanimous vote of the Limerick Corporation when he was selected to succeed Dr. Graves. But whether his voice is wholly his own, or mostly the echo of Synodsmen, is best known to himself and to them.
When Dr. O'Hara, last year, said those silly things which have since made him notorious, and tried afterwards to sustain himself in his rickety position by some curious and conflicting defences, he claimed privilege for his calumny because of the circumstances in which he spoke it. If he had kept it within those surroundings he would have been secure; but he had it
advertised in the Press, and of course had to pay the cost of the imprudent publicity he gave it.
Dr. Bunbury has likewise given his Address to the public, and, with it, has given to the public the right to criticise it. If he wants the Catholics of Ireland to know what he thinks of them and of their claims, it is their right to tell him in turn what they think of his Address. Hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.
His Address, as given to the public, is entirely devoted to the educational and political questions which at present call for solution in Ireland. He deals first with Primary Education, then with Emigration and its causes, and finally with the University Question.
It is due to him to recognise the testimony, although it comes incidentally, which he bears to the high efficiency of Irish Primary Schools under Catholic management. He refers to them as “ full of life, taught by high-class teachers, and an attraction to our young people and their parents.” It is satisfactory to a priest to record such a testimony, as coming from a Protestant Bishop, since it has been the settled tradition of Protestants to represent it as part of our obscurantist game to keep our schools inefficient and the people ignorant. He sees in that higher standard of our schools, as compared with many of his own, a cause for regret and watchfulness, inasmuch as “the great power of assimilation comes in the attraction of the weak to the strong, of the few to the many.” That is a natural regret, and I sincerely sympathise with him. No person should blame him for wishing to guard the youth of his flock from any influences which might gain them over to what the Supreme Head of Protestantism in England had to forswear as “Idolatry” at the ceremony in which he assumed the supremacy of that Church. . - This force," he says,
evidently worked to some purpose in former days in this country when our Church was asleep. See how many Roman Catholics among the population have actually Puritan names, evidently descendants from Cromwell's Ironsides, drawn to Rome by the assimilating force of the surrounding multitude.” Thus he evidently thinks that an English patronymic broadly connotes a Protestant, and an Irish one a Catholic. And he thinks rightly.
Now, in his Synodal Address of last year he claimed that