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Prefatory Motice.

HE Prince of the Poets of the People-of those who have sprung from the ranks, and the rich tones of whose lyres have found an echo in the popular heart-ROBERT BURNS, was born on 25th January 1759, in an "auld clay biggin," or cottage, about two miles south of Ayr. This "auld clay biggin" in which the great poet was born was built by his father, who himself was a notable man. "My father," wrote the poet, "was of the north of Scotland, the son of a farmer, and was thrown by early misfortune on the world at large, where, after many wanderings and sojournings, he picked up a pretty large quantity of observation and experience, to which I am indebted for most of my pretensions to wisdom." Having sufficient intelligence to know the value of a good education, this noble-minded father spared no exertion on his part in the education of his children. His means were essentially limited; "but where there's a will there's a way" is a maxim, for the truth of which the British, above all races, are the most ready to vouch, and though it is far from equal to the strain so often put upon it, yet a powerful will is able to perform wonders; and Burns was blest with a father who had such a will, and that, too, united with a high moral purpose seldom to be met with in any grade of society, and the " way somehow was found by which his children, to a great extent, obtained the education desired.

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When five years old the poet was sent to school, and about two years after, upon the removal of the family to Mount Oliphant, his father united with other neighbour farmers to engage a teacher for their children "at a small salary.' Reading and writing, and some knowledge of arithmetic and English grammar, were by these means early acquired, and to these, in after years, Burns was enabled to add a knowledge of geometry and meusuration. He also added a slight acquaintance of Latin and French, and what was of more value still in a poet's education, he was by degrees made acquainted with some of the best English literature; while as for the songs and ballads in his own Doric, these he had sung into his ears and into his heart by the sweet tongue of his own mother, while she yet dandled him upon her knee. Talk of a lack of a classical education; but for one who, above all others, was ordained to be the people's poet, and more emphatically still, the poet of the poor, what more could a university training have done? While it is recorded as an instance of Burns's aptitude for learning that he parsed nouns in his eleventh year, he yet appears to have had only a dull ear for music, and to have had much difficulty with his music lessons-a matter conceivable enough when we reflect that even in these early years the poet may have been too much engrossed with certain mysterious tones in the deeps of his own soulan inner music-to have permitted that culture of the ear required for the appreciation of external music. Who would care to pay much heed to a squeaking fiddle or a droning bagpipe who was already alive to and enthralled by the music of the spheres? The clever young teacher of Burns-one Murdoch-never dreamed of this state of things, and his large dark-eyed pupil in consequence had a dull ear.' So had his

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