How noble that is, how natural, how unconsciously Greek! You found, oddly, in good Mrs. Barbauld, the merits of the Tenth Muse:
In thy sweet sang, Barbauld, survives Even Sappho's flame!
But how unconsciously you remind us both of Sappho and of Homer in these strains about the Evening Star and the hour when the Day [Greek text]? Had you lived and died the pastoral poet of some silent glen, such lyrics could not but have survived; free, too, of all that in your songs reminds us of the Poet's Corner in the "Kirkcudbright Advertiser." We should not have read how
Phoebus, gilding the brow o' morning, Banishes ilk darksome shade!
Still we might keep a love-poem unexcelled by Catullus,
Had we never loved sae kindly, Had we never loved sae blindly, Never met--or never parted, We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
But the letters to Clarinda would have been unwritten, and the thrush would have been untaught in "the style of the Bird of Paradise."
A quiet life of song, fallentis semita vitae, was not to be yours. Fate otherwise decreed it. The touch of a lettered society, the strife with the Kirk, discontent with the State, poverty and pride, neglect and success, were needed to make your Genius what it was, and to endow the world with "Tam o' Shanter," the "Jolly Beggars," and "Holy Willie's Prayer." Who can praise them too highly--who admire in them too much the humour, the scorn, the wisdom, the unsurpassed energy and courage? So powerful, so commanding, is the movement of that Beggars' Chorus, that, methinks, it unconsciously echoed in the brain of our greatest living poet when he conceived the "Vision of Sin." You shall judge for yourself. Recall: