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however, fell upon the craniologists of Dumfries. The clock struck one as they touched the dread relic: they tried their hats upon the head and found them all too little, and, having made a mould, they deposited the skull in a leaden box, carefully lined with the softest materials, and returned it once more to the hallowed ground.
The grave has been visited by those who brought a better power and a better purpose,- poet and his sister. He has described their finding it in a corner of the churchyard; and, looking at it with melancholy and painful reflections, they repeated to each other his own verses beginning
“Is there a man whose judgment clear ?”
He, taking the music of that epitaph, has given what is at once the best tribute to the dead and the best warning to the living. I know of no fitter close for this lecture than Wordsworth's lines “To the Sons of Burns, after visiting their father's grave.”
" 'Mid crowded obelisks and urns,
With sorrow true;
Trembling to you !
“Through twilight shades of good and ill
Ye now are panting up life's hill;
Must ye display
Its lawful sway.
“ Hath nature strung your nerves to bear
Intemperance with less harm, beware!
But if the poet's wit ye share,
Like him can speed The social hour,-of tenfold care
There will be need.
“For honest men delight will take
Your steps pursue,
A snare for you.
“Far from their noisy haunts retire, And add your voices to the quire That sanctify the cottage fire
With service meet: There seek the genius of your sire;
His spirit greet.
“ Or where, 'mid ‘lonely heights and hows,'
He paid to nature tuneful vows,
Bedewed with toil,
Upturned the soil.
“His judgment with benignant ray
Shall guide, his fancy cheer, your way;
Let faith be given,
Is light from heaven.'
“Let no mean hope your souls enslave;
Be independent, generous, brave:
And such revere;
And think and fear!'
The present age not an unpoetical one- - Five names worthy of
distinction - Samuel Rogers - The * Pleasuras of Memory” – Rogers’s “Italy”—Galileo and Milton — Moore's Songs — Irish patriotism—The true question respecting poetical compositionLamb's lines on the “Old Familiar Faces”-Scott's career of author. ship-Scott the second in rank of Scottish poets-His childhood at Sandy Knowe-His early reading–His interview with BurnsInfluence of the Story of the Rebellion of 1745 on his geniusHis love of natural scenery—The minstrelsy of the Scottish border -Hallam's remark on the Scottish ballads — Story of Christie's Will—" The Lay of the Last Minstrel”-Scott's merit as a poet-Influence of the French Revolution on his mind~"Marmion"“The Lady of the Lake”—Decline of his poetical powers—“ Bonny Dundee"-"Battle of Otterburne”—His pilgrimage to Italy.
This course of lectures, so kindly and patiently followed by you, has now brought us to the limit of the poets of a past generation. The lives of those two true poets who were last considered reached the closing years of the last century,—the death of Burns having taken place in the year 1796, and that of Cowper in 1800. The mind naturally draws a boundary-line which separates them from the poets of the present century and our own times. The remaining lectures will be appropriated to some of our contemporaries who have devoted their genius to the cultivation of that vast and noble field of English literature we have been travelling over.
It is quite an habitual opinion to characterize the generation of the nineteenth century as unpoetical; and in many respects, it must be confessed, the censure is well directed. But when the philosophic critic of some future age shall seek to judge us, the judgment. will be a different one.
We are apt to form our estimate with minds diverted to the countless agencies visibly at work around us,—to the various manifestations of the busy, bustling, superficial temper of the times, which leads men to seek the unsure and brief support of mere expedients, instead of the constancy and security of abiding principles. There are perpetually obtruded on our notice some traits of the times, showing the race occupied rather with the world of sense than with strenuous efforts of thought or high aspirations of imagination. But these--the more obvious characteristics—are temporary; they pass away, and in their place remain those which are more durable. When some future literary historian shall come to write the character of his ancestry in the early portion of the nineteenth century, he will seek for evidences of that character, not in such things as from time to time flash upon us, awakening some admiration or amazement, but in the surviving literature of the generation, and especially in the imaginative department of it, which, gaining a wider and more permanent command of the sympathies, has therefore a more lasting life. It endures from age to age, and to it men of other times are apt to look as the mirror of the generation to which that literature belonged. It is a somewhat vain and perhaps presump
tuous thing to attempt to gain futurity for a point of imaginative vision, and thus anticipate the judgment of posterity. As far as we may indulge in such speculation, we may fancy some eye, as yet unborn, conning what is now the fair page of some fresh book, but then turned into the “sere and yellow leaf;" and if it should chance to be a page on which is inscribed some shallow piece of pride in the superiority of the age,-some ostentation of the incomparable advancement of physical science or the mechanic arts, or of universal education and the march of mind, or some loud boasting of political regeneration,-it might prompt the compassionate smile at such ebullitions of inordinate and short-sighted vanity; short-sighted, because these are matters in which, great as may be the achievements of one generation, they are usually outstripped and set aside by those of a succeeding generation. From such manifestations of our character we might be pronounced a sensuous, unimaginative generation,- self-centered, self-seeking, selfsatisfied, prone to divorce the present from both past and future, breaking covenant with the mighty dead by irreverent violation of time-honoured institutions and usages, as being, according to the phrase, behind the times, and not looking with prophetic eye to days that are to come. But the chief evidence of the character of an age is sought in its literature; and, contemplating that of our times, the writer of some distant day will find that there flourished during the early period of the nineteenth century a numerous company of poets, and among them not a few truly inspired, who would do honour to any age. Indeed, unimaginative and unpoetic as we are, too often, in the habit of considering the