Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/205

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ROSEBERY

��century, how many men of eminence would an- swer a second time to their names. But of our poet there is no doubt or question. The adsum of Burns rings out clear and unchallenged. There are few before him on the list, and we can not now conceive a list without him. He towers high, and yet he lived in an age when the average was sublime. It sometimes seems to me as if the whole eighteenth century was a con- stant preparation for a constant working up to the great drama of the Revolution which closed it. The scenery is all complete when the time arrives — the dark volcanic country, the hungry, desperate people, the firefly nobles, the concen- trated splendor of the court; in the midst, in her place as heroine, the dazzling queen; and during lone previous years brooding nature has been producing not merely the immediate actors, but figures worthy of the scene. What a glit- tering procession it is ! "We can only mark some of the principal figures. Burke leads the way by seniority; then come Fox, and Goethe. Nelson and Mozart, Schiller, Pitt and Burns, Wellington and Napoleon, and among these Titans Burns is a conspicuous figure — a figure which appeals most of all to the imagination and affection of mankind. Napoleon looms larger to the imagina- tion, but on the affection he has no hold. It is in the combination of the two powers that Burns is supreme.

The clue to Burns' extraordinary hold on mankind is possibly a complicated one. It has, 175

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