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limited ; that of the song is universal. The establishment of history and literature through printing was necessarily fatal to the creation of new ballads proper, for how could tradition get time enough to diffuse its version of an event when once the era of printed news had come in? It became impossible to set going a . Marie Hamilton'as society changed; but as long as there is fun and genius enough in the world, there may be songs like the Maggie Lauder' and Blythsome Bridal' of Francis
' Sempill of Beltrees. Let manners change as they may, genius will find in the new manners materials for its powers.
What, however, more than all modern events, affected the history of song in Scotland was the appearance of Burns, whose immense natural parts shone in everything he said or wrote, but whose genius, strictly speaking, found its happiest exercise and most abiding influence in song-writing. We repeat that the traditionary song-literature of Scotland constituted the best part of his culture, as his excellent father's qualities and example gave him the best part of his character.* So that there is nothing wonderful in his having superseded a great deal of older Scottish song by absorbing it into himself, and pouring it forth again in new and better shapes. This was what he did, and, as far as we know, it is without a parallel in the literary history of any other country. His own directly original works—we mean those not so immediately inspired by earlier models, such as Tam o' Shanter, for instance-place him in the very first rank; but the most valuable part of his service to Scotland was his embodying her hereditary music in immortal modern forms. He is sometimes compared with Moore. But Burns took a Scottish tune and clothed it with the language of living Scottish humanity; Moore took an Irish tune, and made it a string for stringing pearls in the shape of drawing-room epigrams.
The result of this bent of the genius of Burns is that we find in his pages songs which, besides being his, are types of the whole song-literature of Scotland. Especially is this the case when he takes the ower-word or burden of an older ditty, and divining, as it were, what the earlier bard was aiming at, gives a sweeter and fuller voice to his meaning than the bard himself could reach. Everybody knows Highland Mary,' but everybody does not know (at least in England) the
* Burns's forefathers were farmers in Kincardineshire, of superior character and education, though his father had to begin the world as a very poor man. When that father's character and the national provision for teaching the humbler classes are allowed for, the poet becomes less of a mere prodigy than is vulgarly supposed. He was the last man who would have liked to be exalted at the expense of Scotland,
songs we glance at, and we shall print one or two accordingly. How charming is this !
By yon castle wa' at the close of the day
last moment my words are the same, There'll never be till Jamie comes hame!! The chief characteristic of the songs, as distinct from the ballads (with which they have naturally much in common), is, that humour plays a more conspicuous part in them; and the exquisitely delicious way in which fun and sentiment mingle with each other deserves particular notice. Poetic humour was one of Burns's choicest gifts, and it was generally employed for homely and everyday effects. We confess that we have always thought bis Whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad,' infinitely more delightful than many songs of higher pretension. The kindness and slyness at the heart of all its fun and fancy is quite winning:
0, whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad ;
And come na unless the back-yett be a-jee ;
O, whistle, &c.
ere na looking at me.
O, whistle, &c. Vol. 105.--No. 210. 2 A
Aye vow and protest that ye care na for me,
O, whistle, &c. The Scots language is peculiarly rich in those forms of expression which are suited to a familiar and half-playful tenderness, In an epistle to Dr. Blacklock, Burns could have a stanza like that we are about to quote, and yet not come within the least approach to vulgarity :-
My compliments to sister Beckie;
As e'er trod clay!
I'm your's for aye.' The home-spun warmth and playfulness of language like this is a testimony, in its way, to the natural disposition of the people.
The temptation to swell our pages with specimens of this branch of the Scottish minstrelsy is great. But we must confine ourselves now to remarking one singularly wholesome and
promising thing about it, which is, that the faculty for creating new and popular songs—songs really accepted by THE PEOPLE—seems to exist in Scotland with a vigour and permanence which sets at defiance the caprices of fashion and the decay of ancient customs, and which we sincerely hope may long contribute to the vigour of the national character. Few things are oftener remarked in England than the want of new songs which might enliven the labour and illumine the life of the working-classes. Our eminent living poets do not fulfil this office, whatever their other merits; and our poetasters do it so badly, that it would be almost better if they did nothing at all. Yet Scotland—though she is worse off at this moment than formerly-has certainly given birth to more good and popular songs within the last half-century than her sister-kingdom of the south. The names of Hogg, Tannabill, Joannie Baillie, Lady Nairn, Lady Anne Lindsay, all recall to memory lyrics rich in every variety of lyrical beauty, so excellent is the operation on a country of a traditionary minstrelsy perpetually inspiring rivalry, and perpetually training the public to add to the ancient store. The Modern Scottish Minstrel’ of Mr. Rogers deserves recognition, as embodying the best of these later songs, and gratifying a natural curiosity about the lives of their authors. At the same time, we must frankly confess that the work falls off both in interest and value in the
later volumes. The very existence of a minstrelsy so copious as that of Scotland tends to breed poetasters; and a delusive idea has prevailed north of the Tweed, that, as a certain great poet was once a ploughboy, he was so because he was a ploughboy, and not in spite of that circumstance. Mr. Rogers too much encourages such error by sweeping into his work all sorts of indifferent verses from the pens of men who should rather have confined themselves to cheering with the music of their elders and betters the ordinary useful occupations of life.
We cannot dismiss the subject without advising our readersnorth of the Tweed and south of it—to put the minstrelsy of Scotland to its proper use in education while amusing themselves with it in mature age. The ballads especially have an attraction for children at a very early age; they form a healthy, noble, and inspiring kind of literature for youth-a literature which has a direct tendency to foster in our British youngsters sound historical ideas, generosity of sentiment, and manliness of character.
ART. III.—1. Report of the National Gallery Site Commission
presented to both Houses of Parliament. 1857. 2. Catalogues of the Pictures in the National Gallery, with Bio
graphical Notices of the deceased Painters (Foreign and English Schools). By Ralph N. Wornum; revised by Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, P.R.A. 1858.
. 3. Copy of a Report of the Keeper of the Department of Anti
quities to the Trustees of the British Museum respecting the want of accommodation for that department, dated 7th July, 1858.
Presented to the House of Commons. 4. Copy of Communications made by the Officers and Architect of
the British Museum to the Trustees respecting want of Space, &c.
Presented to the House of Commons March, 1859. MA ANY of our readers will remember the birth of The National
Gallery, in the dull and dingy rooms of a private dwelling in Pall Mall, and how, as it advanced in years though scarcely in size, it was removed to the even darker regions of Marlborough House, where until very lately a grateful country kept the works of her greatest painters, which for the most part had been generously bequeathed to her. As we have recently given a sketch of the history of the British Museum,* we now propose to devote a few pages to the history, condition, and prospects of our national collection of pictures.
* Quarterly Review for July, 1858, No. 207.
2 A 2
A picture gallery, specially set apart or exhibited for public amusement and instruction, is but à recent institution in this country. Whilst nearly every European state has for generations possessed such a collection, and has recognised its importance to art and to the cultivation of public taste, it was not until the year 1824 that the National Gallery was founded in England. On :the death about that time of an eminent connoisseur, Mr. Angerstein, it was suggested that the valuable pictures he had collected should be purchased for the nation. Parliament was induced to grant 57,0001. for this purpose, and an additional sum of 30001. for the expenses of exhibition and preservation. The number of paintings thus acquired was not large, but it included several of the highest merit-such as The Raising of Lazarus,' by Sebastian del Piombo, probably the most precious in money value we possess; four fine Claudes; and Rembrandt's Woman taken in Adultery ;' together with nine admirable specimens of the English school, comprising the portrait of Lord Heathfield, by Sir Joshua Reynolds; his own portrait, and the Marriage à la Mode,' by Hogarth; and Wilkie's
l Village Festival.' During the following ten years only four pictures were added by purchase, amongst them, however, the excellent Bacchus and Ariadne' of Titian; but thirty were presented to the nation, sixteen having been bequeathed by Sir G. Beaumont to the trustees of the British Museum, who deposited them in the National Gallery. Within the next ten years fifteen were bought, comprising several very important works, such as Correggio's "Mercury instructing Cupid,' Raphael's 'St. Catherine,' and the great altar-piece in two divisions, by Francia. During the same period one hundred were presented and bequeathed, including the collections of the Rev. W. H. Carr, Col. Ollney, and Lord Farnborough, the greater part being pictures by the old masters.
A National Gallery having thus been founded, the duty devolved upon the Government of providing for its proper administration. On the purchase of the Angerstein collection the Board of Treasury, to which by a strange inconsistency the artistic education of the country had been confided, appointed for the purpose a “keeper,' whose duty it was to take charge of the pictures, to negotiate for such as might be selected for purchase, and to regulate the admission of students and the public to the Gallery.
A committee of six gentlemen was named to undertake the general superintendence. Subsequently this committee was changed into a trust; the number of trustees was increased to seventeen; and the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer became ex officio members of the board.