was a poet of the past only, and in his inmost heart
wedded to the habits of a feudal aristocracy, while
Burns is the poet of the present and the future, the
man of the people, and throughout a genuine man.
This is true enough; but for my part I cannot endure
a comparison which by a breath of coolness depreciates
either. Both were wanted; each acted the important
part assigned him by destiny with a wonderful thoroughness
and completeness. Scott breathed the breath just
fleeting from the forms of ancient Scottish heroism
and poesy into new,—he made for us the
bridge by which we have gone into the old Ossianic
hall and caught the meaning just as it was about to
pass from us for ever. Burns is full of the noble,
genuine democracy which seeks not to destroy royalty,
but to make all men kings, as he himself was, in nature
and in action. They belong to the same world;
they are pillars of the same church, though they uphold
its starry roof from opposite sides. Burns was
much the rarer man; precisely because he had most of
common nature on a grand scale; his humor, his passion,
his sweetness, are all his own; they need no picturesque
or romantic accessories to give them due relief:
looked at by all lights they are the same. Since
Adam, there has been none that approached nearer fitness
to stand up before God and angels in the naked majesty
of manhood than Robert Burns;—but there
was a serpent in his field also! Yet but for his
fault we could never have seen brought out the brave
and patriotic modesty with which he owned it.
Shame on him who could bear to think of fault in this
rich jewel, unless reminded by such confession.
We passed Abbotsford without stopping, intending to
go there on our return. Last year five hundred
Americans inscribed their names in its porter’s
book. A raw-boned Scotsman, who gathered his weary
length into our coach on his return from a pilgrimage
thither, did us the favor to inform us that “Sir
Walter was a vara intelligent mon,” and the
guide-book mentions “the American Washington”
as “a worthy old patriot.” Lord safe
us, cummers, what news be there!
This letter, meant to go by the Great Britain, many
interruptions force me to close, unflavored by one
whiff from the smoke of Auld Reekie. More and
better matter shall my next contain, for here and
in the Highlands I have passed three not unproductive
weeks, of which more anon.
EDINBURGH, OLD AND NEW.—SCOTT AND BURNS.—DR.
ANDREW COMBE.—AMERICAN RE-PUBLISHING.—THE
BOOKSELLING TRADE.—THE MESSRS. CHAMBERS.—DE
QUINCEY THE OPIUM-EATER.—DR. CHALMERS.
Edinburgh, September 22d, 1846.
The beautiful and stately aspect of this city has
been the theme of admiration so general that I can
only echo it. We have seen it to the greatest
advantage both from Calton Hill and Arthur’s
Seat, and our lodgings in Princess Street allow us
a fine view of the Castle, always impressive, but
peculiarly so in the moonlit evenings of our first
week here, when a veil of mist added to its apparent
size, and at the same time gave it the air with which
Martin, in his illustrations of “Paradise Lost,”
has invested the palace which “rose like an