Imatges de pÓgina
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Poor Edwin was no vulgar boy:

Song was his favorite and first pursuit;
The wild barp rang to his adventurous hand,
And languish'd to his breath the plaintive flute:
In life's low vale remote he pined alone,

Then dropt into the grave... B

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Fell CONSUMPTION, thy unerring dart Wets its broad wing in Youth's reluctant heart.

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A DETAIL of the efforts of genius, in the attempt to overcome the various obstacles, which poverty and seclusion create, has been ever contemplated with interest by the feeling mind, and peculiarly so, when, after the display of early and exquisite talent, death, the usual consequence of unavailing struggles with penury and distress, closes, in the spring of life, the delusive paintings of a warm ima.

gination, the career of honest fame and literary ambition.

The amiable poet, on whose life and compositions we have undertaken to deliver a few remarks, unfortunately presents this very picture; a melancholy instance of a delicate constitution and great mental powers, sinking beneath the pressure of indigence and uncongenial employment. The early portion of his life, the happiest period of his short existence, was spent in his native village of Kinnesswood, in Kinrosshire, under the eye of parents, remarkable for nothing but the innocence and simplicity of their lives. The uncommon facility, however, which their son had shewn in acquiring what literature the neighbouring school of Kinross could afford, induced them, in the year 1762, at which time our poet had attained the age of sixteen, to send him to the University of Edinburgh, with a view toward preparation for the clerical profession, an object," observes Dr. Anderson, "of common ambition, among persons of inferior rank in North Britain.”*

* Vide Anderson's Poets, Vol. xi. where the minutia of the poet's life, no object of the present essay, may be found.

It was on the banks of Lochleven, however, that young Bruce first imbibed his love for the Muses, and caught that enthusiasm, that taste for pictoresque scenery, and that pensive cast of mind, which, in so striking a manner, marked his future years. From his friends, likewise, Mr. Arnot and Mr. Pearson, the former of whom cultivated a farin on the borders of the Lake, and the latter resided in a village adjoining to Kinnesswood, he received considerable instruction, and many opportunities for poetical improvement. They were men who, notwithstanding their secluded situation, added, to much rational piety and much sound judgment, no common taste for the beauties of elegant literature, and, through their kindness, the opening powers of the young poet were invigorated, by the repeated perusal of Shakspeare, Milton, Pope and Thomson. That he relished and fully entered into the spirit of these celebrated bards, more particularly of Thomson, is evident from the few pieces he lived to complete, and which, it will be shortly seen, abound in accurate description and thetic sentiment.


The same discrimination which induced him to solicit, and enabled him to profit by the assistance of these worthy characters, greatly his superiors in age and attainments, taught him to select, from his youthful associates at school, two of similar feelings and pursuits, and with these, a Mr. George Henderson and a Mr. Dryburgh, he contracted and cherished a friendship, which death alone had power to dissolve. Their partiality to his favourite studies still further heightened, through participation, that pleasing and tender enthusiasm, which steals, with such enchantment, on the bosom of sensibility, and which too often, alas! by presenting visions of ideal excellence, unfits its votaries for the scenery of real life,

With a mind thus stored with combinations of sublimity and beauty, and with a heart where piety and simplicity dwelt unalloyed, Bruce left his native vales and mountains for the metropolis of his country. Here, for four successive winters, he studied, with patient assiduity, the languages of the schools, and acquired a competent, and even critical

knowledge, of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Divinity, and the various branches of philosophy, claimed also his attention, but nothing, though thus vigorously and variously employed, had power to separate him from his first affections, and poetry, the Syren poetry, still held her wonted influence, and became his inseparable companion. It was during this period also he formed an intimacy with Logan, a student of the University, an elegant and accomplished scholar, and a very ingenious poet, and who, after the death of his young friend, paid a valuable tribute to his memory by publishing his poems, and prefixing a most pleasing and well-written preface. Here, too, that tender melancholy, so conspicuous a feature of the earliest years of Bruce, whether from a morbid delicacy of constitution, a too strict confinement to study, or a gloomy anxiety as to the means of his future support, appears to have greatly increased, and his letters to Mr. Arnot, while they breathe a pious resignation, paint, in strong colours, the mental oppression under which he laboured; "I am in health," he writes in 1764, "excepting a kind of

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