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Ir has long since been heard, all over the civilized world, that there appeared in Scotland in the last half of the eighteenth century, a great poet, in the person of an Ayrshire ploughman, by the name of ROBERT BURNS. And as illustrious as is Scotland in great men, there is not another, who has produced so deep an impression on the universal heart of his country, as this same Ayrshire ploughman. Of this extraordinary person, I propose to give some account. I will first speak of him as a poet, and then, as a


Before, however, I speak of him as a poet, I will propound my view of the theory of the Beautiful, in order that I may, thereby, be the better able to lay open the mystery of his fascination. For he was emphatically the poet of the Beautiful.

The world was evidently designed as the dwellingplace of a being who delights in scenes of beauty. For the Creator has taken as much care to make

every thing beautiful, as he has to make every thing useful. Utility and beauty are worked into harmony everywhere. Beauty seems to stand midway between utility and holiness. It is the sympathy with beauty, which draws out the heart, and elevates it above considerations of self, and prepares it for aspirations after holiness. If there were nothing but utility impressed upon nature, man, bound down by considerations of self, would scarcely have aspirations beyond those of the brute. For he is not more distinguished from the brute, by his perception of the moral, than he is by his perception of the beautiful. Indeed, of all the natural influences which sway the soul for good, there is none more potent than beauty. It was beauty in nature operating upon the suscep tible Greek mind, that enabled it to catch the divine lineaments of the beautiful and embody them in art. And art, thus embodying the ideal beauty derived from nature, in turn re-acted upon the Greek mind itself, and elevated it above that of all ancient nations, and it has continued to this day to refine nations, by kindling in them the sympathy with the beautiful. The Greek mind never could have been what it was, but for the beauty of its language, its literature, its sculpture, and its architecture; for though these are all the product of the mind itself, yet they are all powerful instruments of improvement when they embody real beauty in their artistic forms. Inde⚫pendently then of our present purpose, it is certainly

a matter of importance to unfold the theory of the

beautiful, in order that we may thereby, the better understand how to combine its elements in the artistic organizations of literature and the other arts.

It may perhaps be thought presumptuous, that I should try my unskilled hand upon the theory of the beautiful, after so many masters have failed in efforts to discover and set it forth: that I should hope to embrace ideal beauty in my arms, when she has rejected the solicitations of so many illustrious suitors: that I should attempt to raise the veil from off her face, when it has never been given to mortal man to view the glory of her countenance. I confess it all! But I have been so fascinated by her loveliness as it appears reflected in the works of nature, that my anxious heart has forced me to the attempt. I longed to know the theory of that fascination which breathes from the works of nature. To learn the origin of that spell, which always seemed to me so near akin to the great sympathy which binds together the hearts of man and woman. For, in walking amidst the beauties of nature, there is always the image of a beautiful woman, associated in my imagination, with them all :

"I see her in the dewy flowers,

I see her sweet and fair;
I hear her in the tunefu' birds,

I hear her charm the air."

This delightful mystery I shall now attempt to unveil.

And let me begin by asking a question. Why is it that man, and the brute animals, draw such different conclusions from their observations of the material world? The brutes have just as acute senses as he. They can see with as keen an eye, and hear with as accurate an ear. There is not a quality of matter which they cannot see, nor a quality of sound which they cannot hear. The difference results from the difference in their mental constitutions. that man beholds in the material world which the brute does not see, is transferred there from the truths of his own spiritual nature. Man throws over the material world, the glories of his own soul. The beautiful, no less than the moral, belongs to the soul of man.


This is the great truth, by which I shall endeavor to raise the veil of mystery, which hangs over the beauty of nature. I expect to show that the beauty which we behold in nature, is mirrored there from the radiations of our own spirits. That it is not the dull matter which warms the currents of feeling within our bosoms; but it is a halo of our own spiritual being lingering around these objects, and imparting to them a significance which they do not possess inherent in their own natures.

In order to give a precise notion of my theory of the beautiful, it will be necessary to give my view of the theory of the sublime.

My theory is, that the sublimity of the material world, is derived from associations with man and his

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spiritual characteristics; and that the beauty of the material world, is derived from associations with woman and her spiritual characteristics.

"For contemplation he, and valor formed,

For softness she, and sweet attractive grace."

The qualities of sublime objects are masculine : those of beautiful objects are feminine.

With these preliminary observations, I will now proceed to unfold the theory of the beautiful.

In the first place, I will define what I mean by the beautiful. Many writers make the beautiful to consist in whatever of external nature produces an agreeable impression within us; thus making the beautiful identical with the agreeable. But this is not the meaning that I shall attach to the word. These writers speak of the beauty of mechanical contrivances, the beauty of mathematical problems, and apply the term to other similar instances. But I exclude all such instances from my view of the subject. What I mean by the beautiful, is whatever, in the material world, produces impressions within us analogous to those awakened by our intercourse with woman. In fact, as I have already announced, I make woman the spiritual dispenser of beauty to the world. As the fabled Prometheus brought down fire and fertility from heaven, to animate and fertilize the earth, so woman brought down beauty and love, to warm the heart of man, and make the flowers of bliss bloom along the streams

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