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Edinburgh Past and Present


THE OLD TOWN. 31 lust ; it was chiefly, we suspect,' vanity,-a feeling, seldom entertained by him, and not cognate to his better nature. Ah I how different from that burning' youthful passion for his Jean, which has enriched the language with such matchless melodies, and from that maturer Platonic love he seems to have felt for Charlotte Hamilton, and which arose again in his'dying bosom like a bright bell, bubbling up from t'he dark abyss of the past, when he wrote his last song- & Fairest maid on Devon banks, Winding Devon, crystal Devon, Prithee lay that frown aside, And smile as thou wert wont to do.' But surely there can be less sympathy with his feeling for Clarinda, if we measure it at least by the fantastic, rhapsodical, and ridiculous rubbish of which his letters to her consist. Yet, on the other hand, let-us remepber that he Tote on her the fine song, & My Nannie 's awa,' and that his passion for her, or rather the memory of it, inspired that stanza which Scott says contains the essence of a thousand love-histories2 ' Had we never lpved so blindly, Had we never loved so kindly, Never met, or never parted- We had ne'er been broken-hearted.' And at all events we cannot gaze without interest at the spot where the brawny poet, then in the very pride of his popularity, stalked to and fro, clad in buckskins, with his riding-whip in his hand, turning his ardent eyes towards his cynosure, if haply he might catch a glance of her eye or a smile from her lips ; and we c b o t after all look without some emotiop at the plain little. old-fashioned room where-as with Mary Campbell in . more romantic circumstances and scenery-he spent ' one day of parting love ' ere they were separated for ever, and by a yet ghastlier gulf than that of death. Poor Burns 1 His errors cannot now entice, and men can look back upon them from the distance of nearly a century with feelings of pity and forgiveness. In the square adjacent-Alison's Square-stands a house, to the second flat of which, as represented by the open window in the, engraving, tradition points as the place'where Thomas Campbell finished and prepared for the press . his PZeusumr of [email protected],-a poem, we fear, less read now than it deserves, but which should never be forgotten as one of the most remarkable young poems ever produced in this country. It has faults, but they are wonderfully few
Volume 11 Page 51
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