Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/208

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Levite may have passed by in vain this eternal heart will still afford resource.

There is an eternal controversy which it appears no didactic oil will ever assuage as to Burns' private life and morality. Some maintain that these have nothing to do with his poems ; some maintain that his life must D3 read in his works; and again some think that his life damns his poems, while others aver that his poems can not be fully appreciated without his life. Another school think that his vices have been exagger- ated, while their opponents scarcely think such exaggeration possible. It is impossible to avoid taking a side. I walk on the ashes, knowing fire beneath and unable to avoid them, for the topic is inevitable. I must confess myself, then, one of those who think that the life of Burns doubles the interest of his poems and I doubt whether the failings of his life have been much exagger- ated, for contemporary testimony on that point is strong — tho a high and excellent authority, Mr. Wallace, has recently taken the other side with much power and point. But the life of Burns, which I love to read with his poems, does not consist in his vices. They lie outside it. It is a life of work and truth and tenderness, and tho like all lives it Las its light and shade, re- member that we know all the worst as well as the best.

His was a soul bathed in crystal. He hurried to avow everything. There was no reticence in him. The only obscure passage in his life is the 178

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