Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/209

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��love-passage with Highland Mary, and as to that he was silent not from shame, but because it was a sealed and sacred episode. "What a flattering idea," he once wrote, "is a world to come. There shall I with speechless agony or rapture recognize my lost, my ever dear Mary, whose bosom was fraught with truth, honor, constancy and love. ' ' But he had, as the French say, the defects of his qualities. His imagina- tion was a supreme and celestial gift, but his imagination often led him wrong and never more than with woman. The chivalry that made Don Quixote see the heroic in all the common events of life made Burns (as his brother tells us) see a goddess in every girl he approached; hence many love affairs, and some guilty ones, but even these must be judged with reference to time and circumstances. This much is certain: had he been devoid of genius they would not have attracted attention. It is Burns' pedestal that affords a target. And why, one may ask, is not the same treatment measured out to Burns as to others? The illegitimate children of great captains and statesmen and princes are treated as historical and ornamental incidents. They strut the scene of Shakespeare and ruffle it with the best. It is for the illegitimate children of Burns, tho he and his wife cherished them as if born in wedlock, that the vails of wrath are reserved. There were two brilliant figures both descended from the Stuarts who were alive 179

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