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gain your favour by such detestable practices. I approach, have made an impression on my If you will be so good, and so generous, heart that I do not think the world can ever as to admit me for your partner, your efface. My imagination has fondly flattered companion, your bosom friend through life, myself with a wish, I dare not say it ever there is nothing on this side of eternity reached a hope, that possibly I might one shall give me greater transport; but I shall day call you mine. I had formed the most never think of purchasing your hand by delightful images, and my fancy fondly any arts unworthy of a man, and, I will add, brooded over them; but now I am wretched of a Christian, There is one thing, my dear, for the loss of what I really had no right to which I earnestly request of you, and it is expect. I must now think no more of you this, that you would soon either put an end as a mistress; still I presume to ask to be to my hopes by a peremptory refusal, or cure admitted as a friend. As such I wish to be me of my fears by a generous consent. allowed to wait on you; and as I expect to
It would oblige me much if you would remove in a few days a little further off, and send me a line or two when convenient. you, I suppose, will soon leave this place, I I shall only add further, that, if a behaviour | wish to see
ther, that, if a behaviour wish to see or hear from you soon: and if regulated (though perhaps but very imper- an expression should perhaps escape me, fectly) by the rules of honour and virtue, if rather too warm for friendship, I hope you a heart devoted to love and esteem you, will pardon it in, my dear Miss-(pardon me and an earnest endeavour to promote your the dear expression for once) * * * R. B. happiness—if these are qualities you wish in a friend, in a husband, I hope you sliall ever find them in your real friend and sincere lover,
TO MR. JAMES BURNESS,
WRITER, MONTROSE. (1)
Lochlea, 21st June, 1783. Lochlea, 1783. DEAR SIR.--My father received your I Ought, in good manners, to have ac- favour of the 10th current, and as he has knowledged the receipt of your letter before been for some months very poorly in health, this time, but my heart was so shocked with and is in his own opinion (and, indeed, in the contents of it, that I can scarcely yet almost every body's else) in a dying condicollect ny thoughs so as to write to you on the tion, le has only, with great difficulty, subject. I will not attempt to describe what written a few farewell lines to each of his I felt on receiving your letter. I read it brothers-in-law. For this melancholy reason, over and over, again and again, and though I now hold the pen for him to thank you for it was in the politest language of refusal, your kind letter, and to assure you, Sir, that still it was peremptory : "you were sorry you it shall not be my fault if my father's corcould not make me a return, but you wish respondence in the north die with him. My me"-what, without you, I never can obtain- brother writes to John Caird, and to him I “you wish me all kind of happiness." It must refer you for the news of our family. would be weak and unmanly to say that I shall only trouble you with a few parwithout you I never can be happy; but sure ticulars relative to the wretched state of this I am, that sharing life with you would have country. Our markets are exceedingly high given it a relish, that, wanting you, I can - oatmeal, 17d. and 18d. per peck, and not never taste.
to be got even at that price. We have indeed Your uncommon personal advantages, and been pretty well supplied with quantities of your superior good sense, do not so much white peas from England and elsewhere, but strike me: these, possibly, may be met with that resource is likely to fail us, and what in a few instances in others; but that amia- will become of us then, particularly the very ble goodness, that tender feminine softness, poorest sort, Heaven only knows. This that endearing sweetness of disposition, with country, till of late, was flourishing increall the charming offspring of a warm feeling dibly in the manufacture of silk, lawn, heart-these I never again expect to meet and carpet-weaving; and we are still carwith, in such a degree, in this world. All rying on a good deal in that way, but these charming qualities, heightened by an much reduced from what it was. We had education much beyond any thing I have also a fine trade in the shoe way, but now ever met in any woman I ever dared to entirely ruined, and hundreds driven to a LETTER TO MR. BURNESS:
starving condition on account of it. Farming 1
NO. VII. is also at a very low ebb with us. Our lands, generally speaking, are mountainous and
TO MR. JAMES BURNESS, MONbarren ; and our landholders, full of ideas of
TROSE. farming gathered from the English and the
Lochlea, 17th February, 1784. Lothians, and other rich soils in Scotland, make no allowance for the odds of the quality
DEAR COUSIN.—I would have returned of land, and consequently stretch us much
you my thanks for your kind favour of the beyond what in the event we will be found
13th of December sooner, had it not been able to pay. We are also much at a loss for
that I waited to give you an account of that want of proper methods in our improvements
melancholy event, which, for some time pası, of farming. Necessity compels us to leave
we have from day to day expected. our old schemes, and few of us have oppor
On the 13th current I lost the best of tunities of being well informed in new ones.
fathers. Though, to be sure, we have had In short, my dear Sir, since the unfortunate long warning of the impending stroke, still beginning of this American war, and its as
the feelings of nature claim their part, and I unfortunate conclusion, this country has
cannot recollect the tender endearments and been, and still is, decaying very fast. Even
parental lessons of the best of friends and in higher life, a couple of our Ayrshire noble
ablest of instructors, without feeling what men, and the major part of our knights and perhaps the calmer dictates of reason would squires, are all insolvent. A miserable job | partly condemn. of a Douglas, Heron, and Co.'s bank, which
I hope my father's friends in your country no doubt you have heard of, has undone
will not let their connexion in this place die numbers of them; and imitating English and with him. For my part I shall ever with French, and other foreign luxuries and fop- pleasure, with pride, acknowledge my conperies, has ruined as many more. There is a
nexion with those who were allied by the ties great trade of smuggling carried on along our
of blood and friendship to a man whose coasts, which, however destructive to the memory I shall ever honour and revere. interests of the kingdom at large, certainly
I expect, therefore, my dear Sir, you will enriches this corner of it, but too often at not neglect any opportunity of letting me the expense of our morals. However, it hear from you, which will very much oblige, enables individuals to make, at least for a my dear cousin, yours sincerely, R. B. time, a splendid appearance; but Fortune, as is usual with her when she is uncommonly lavish of her favours, is generally even with
NO. VIII. them at the last: and happy were it for numbers of them if she would leave them no TO MR. JAMES BURNESS, MON.. worse than when she found them.
TROSE. My mother sends you a small present of a cheese; 'tis but a very little one, as our last
Mossgiel, August, 1784. year's stock is sold off; but if you could fix! We have been surprised with one of the on any correspondent in Edinburgh or Glas- most extraordinary phenomena in the moral gow, we would send you a proper one in the
ne in the world, which, I dare say, has happened in the season. Mrs. Black promises to take the course of this half century. We have had a cheese under her care so far, and then to party of Presbytery relief, as they call themsend it to you by the Stirling carrier.
selves, for some time in this country. A I shall conclude this long letter with assur- į
pretty thriving society of them has been in ing you that I shall be very happy to hear the burgh of Irvine for some years past, till from you, or any of our friends in your
about two years ago a Mrs. Buchan from country, when opportunity serves.
Glasgow came among them, and began to My father sends you, probably for the last spread some fanatical notions of religion time in this world his 'warmest wishes for among them, and, in a short time, made your welfare and happiness; and my mother many converts; and among others their and the rest of the family desire to enclose | preacher, Mr White, who, upon that account. their kind compliments to you, Mrs. Burness,
has been suspended and formally deposed by and the rest of your family, along with those
his brethren. He continued, however, to of, dear Sir, your affectionate cousin,
preach in private to his party, and was supR. B.
ported, both he and their spiritual mother, as they affect to call old Buchan, by the contributions of the rest, several of whom.
were in good circumstances; till in spring | in consequence of hard travelling in the last, the populace rose and mobbed Mrs.sun. On these accounts, he refuses sending Buchan, and put her out of the town ; on me with Smith; but a vessel sails from which all her followers voluntarily quitted Greenock the 1st of September, right for the place likewise, and with such precipita- the place of my destination. The captain tion, that many of them never shut their of her is an intimate friend of lIr. Gavin doors behind them; one left a washing on the Hamilton's, and as good a fellow as heart green, another a cow bellowing at the crib could wish: with him I am destined to go. without food, or any body to mind her, and Where I shall shelter I know not, but I after several stages, they are fixed at present hope to weather the storm. Perish the drop in the neighbourhood of Dumfries. Their of blood of mine that fears them! I know tenets are a strange jumble of enthusiastic their worst, and am prepared to meet it: jargon; among others, she pretends to give
I'll laugh, and sing, and shake my leg, them the Holy Ghost by breathing on them, which she does with postures and practices
As lang's I dow. that are scandalously indecent. They have 'On Thursday morning, if you can muster likewise disposed of all their effects, and hold as much self-denial as to be out of bed about a community of goods, and live nearly an seren o'clock, I shall see you as I ride idle life, carrying on a great farce of pre through to Cumnock. After all, Heaven tended devotion in barns and woods, where bless the sex! I feel there is still happiness they lodge and lie all together, and hold | for me among them :likewise a community of women, as it is another of their tenets that they can commit
Oh woman, lovely woman! Heaven designed no moral sin. I am personally acquainted with most of them, and I can assure you the
To temper man!-we had been brutes withabove mentioned are facts.
R. B. This, my dear Sir, is one of the many instances of the folly of leaving the guidance of sound reason and common sense in matters of religion.
NO. X. Whenever we neglect or despise these sacred monitors, the whimsical notions of a TO AIR, JOHN RICHMOND, EDIN. perturbated brain are taken for the immedi
BURGH. (2) ate influences of the Deity, and the wildest fanaticisin, and the most inconstant absurdi
Asossgiel, February 17, 1786. ties, will meet with abettors and converts. MY DEAR SIR.-I have not time at Nay, I have often thought, that the more present to upbraid you for your silence and out-of-the-ivay and ridiculous the fancies neglect; I shall only say I received yours are, if once they are sanctified under the with great pleasure. I have enclosed you a sacred name of religion, the unhappy mis- piece of rhyming ware for your perusal. I taken votaries are the more firmly glued to have been very busy with the muses since I them.
R. B. saw you, and have composed, among several
others:--The Ordination, a poem on Mr. | MʻKinlay's being called to Kilmarnock;
Scotch Drink, a poem; The Cotter's Saturday NO. IX.
Night; An Address to the Devil, &c. I. TO MR. JAMES SMITII. MAUCH-have likewise completed my poem on the LINE.
Dogs, but have not shown it to the world.
My chief patron now is Mr. Aiken in Ayr, Mossgiel, Monday Morning, 1786.
who is pleased to express great approbation My Dear Sir. I went to Dr. Douglas of my works. Be so good as send me yesterday, fully resolved to take the oppor Fergusson, by Connel, and I will remit you tunity of Captain Smith; but I found the the money. I have no news to acquaint you Doctor with a Mr. and Mrs. White, both with about Mauchiine; they are just going Jamaicans, and they have deranged my plans on in the old way. I have some very inaltogether. They assure him that to send portant news with respect to myself, not the me from Savannah la Mar to Port Antonio, most agreeable-news that I am sure you will cost my master, Charles Douglas, up. cannot guess, but I shall give you the parwards of fifty pounds, besides running the ticulars another time. I am extremely risk of throwing myself into a pleuritic fever, happy with Smith; he is the only friend I
LETTER TO MR. AIKEN.
have now in Mauchline. I can scarcely forgive |
NO. XII. your long neglect of me, and I beg you will
TO MR. ROBERT MUIR, KILMARlet me hear from you regularly by Connel.
NOCK. If you would act your part as a friend, I am sure neither good nor bad fortune should
Mossgiel, 20th March, 1786. strange or alter me. Excuse haste, as I got
DEAR SIR.-I am heartily sorry I had not your's but yesterday. I am, my dear Sir,
| the pleasure of seeing you as you returned your's, ROBERT BURNS.
through Mauchline; but as I was engaged, I could not be in town before the evening.
I here enclose you my "Scotch Drink," and "may the follow” with a blessing for
your edification. I hope, some time before NO. XI.
we hear the gowk, to have the pleasure of TO MR. JOHN KENNEDY. seeing you at Kilmarnock, when I intend we
shall have a gill between us in a mutchkinMossgiel, 3rd March, 1786, stoup, which will be a great comfort and · SIR.--I have done myself the pleasure of consolation to, dear Sir, your humble servant,
ROBERT BURNS. my Cottager. If you have a leisure minute, I should be glad if you would copy it and return me either the original or the trans. cript, as I have not a copy of it by me, and
TO MR. AIKEN.
Mossgiel, 3rd April, 1786. Lord, man, there's lasses there wad force DEAR SIR.-I received your kind letter A hermit's fancy ;
with double pleasure on account of the And down the gate, in faith, they're worse, second flattering instance of Mrs. C.'s notice And mair unchancy.
and approbation. I assure you I But, as I'm sayin', please step to Dow's, Turn out the burnt side o’my skin, And taste sic beer as Johnnie brews, Till some bit callan bring me news
as the fainous Ramsay, of jingling memory, That you are there;
says, at such a patroness. Present her my And if we dinna haud a bouze,
most grateful acknowledgements, in your I'll ne'er drink mair.
very best manner of telling truth. I have
inscribed the following stanza on the blank It's no I like to sit and swallow,
leaf of Miss More's work: Then like a swine to puke and wallow;
Thou flattering mark of friendship kind, But gie me just a true good fallow, Wi' right engine,
Still may thy pages call to mind
The dear, the beauteous donor.
Though sweetly female every part,
Yet such a head, and more the heart, Now, if you're ane o warld's folk,
Does both the sexes honour. Wha rate the wearer by the cloak,
She showed her taste refined and just And sklent on poverty their joke,
When she selected thee, : Wi' bitter sneer,
Yet deviating own I must,
For so approving me;
But kind still, I mind still,
The giver in the giftBut if, as I'm informed weel,
I'll bless her, and wiss her
A friend above the Lift.
My proposals for publishing I am just Hae, there's my haun', I wiss you weel, going to send to press. I expect to hear And guid be wi' you !
from you by the first opportunity. I am, R. B. ever dear Sir, your's, ROBERT BURNS.
you half a sheet of them. I must consult TO MR. M’WHINNIE, WRITER, AYR,
yoni, first opportunity, on the propriety of
sending my quondam friend, Mr. Aiken, a Mossgiel, 17th April, 1786. copy. If he is now reconciled to my characIt is injuring some hearts, those hearts
ter as an honest man, I would do it with all that elegantly bear the impression of the my soul; but I would not be beholden to good Creator. to say to them you give them the noblest being ever God created, if he the trouble of obliging a friend, for this imagined me to be a rascal. Apropos, old reason, I only tell you that I gratify my own
Mr. Armour prevailed with him to mutilate feelings in requesting your friendly offices
that unlucky paper yesterday. Would you with respect to the enclosed, because I believe it?--though I had not a hope, nor know it will gratify yours to assist me in it !
even a wish, to make her mine after her conto the utmost of your power.
| duct, yet, when he told me the names were I have sent you four copies, as I have no
all out of the paper, my heart died within less than eight dozen, which is a great deal
me, and he cut my veins with the news. more than I shall ever need.
Perdition seize her falshood. Be sure to remember a poor poet militant
R. B. in your prayers. He looks forward with fear and trembling to that, to him, important
NO. XVII. moment which stamps the die with--withwith, perhaps, the eternal disgrace of, my
TO MR. DAVID BRICE. (5) dear Sir, your humble, afflicted, tormented,
Mossgiel, June 12, 1786. ROBERT BURNS.
DEAR BRICE.--I received your message by G. Paterson, and as I am not very
strong at present, I just write to let you NO. XV.
know that there is such a worthless, rhyming TO MR. JOHN KENNEDY. reprobate, as your humble servant, still in Mossgiel, 20th April, 1786.
the land of the living, though I can scarcely
say in the place of hope. I have no news SIR.-By some neglect in Mr. Hamilton, I to tell you that will give me any pleasure to did not hear of your kind request for a sub-mention, or you to hear. scription paper till this day. I will not ! Poor ill-advised, ungrateful Armour came attempt any acknowledgement for this, nor home on Friday last. (6) You have heard the manner in which I see your name in Mr. | all the particulars of that affair, and a black Hamilton's subscription list. Allow me affair it is. What she thinks of her conduct only to say, Sir, I feel the weight of the debt. now I don't know; one thing I do know
I have here, likewise, enclosed a small she has made me completely miserable. piece, the very latest of my productions. (4) Never man loved, or rather adored, a woman I am a good deal pleased with some senti- more than I did her; and, to confess a truth ments myself, as they are just the native between you and me, I do still love her to querulous feelings of a heart, which, as the distraction after all, though I won't tell her elegantly melting Gray says, "inelancholy so if I were to see her, which I don't want has marked out for her own.”
| to do. My poor dear unfortunate Jean! Our race comes on apace--that much how happy have I been in thy arms! It is expected scene of revelry and mirth: but not the losing her that makes me so unhappy, to me it brings no joy equal to that meeting but for her sake I feel most severely: I with which you last flattered the expecta- foresee she is in the road to, I am afraid, tion of, Sir, your indebted humble servant. eternal ruin.
May Almighty God forgive her ingratitude and perjury to me, as I from my very soul
forgive her; and may his grace be with her NO. XVI.
and bless her in all her future life! I can TO JOHN BALLANTINE, OF AYR. have no nearer idea of the place of eternal
punishment than what I have felt in my own June, 1786.
breast on her account. I have tried often to HONOURED SIR.--My proposals came to forget her; I have run into all kinds of hand last night, and, knowing that you dissipation and riots, mason-meetings, drinkwould wish to have it in your power to do ing-matches, and other mischief, to drive her me a service as early as any body, I enclose out of my head, but all in vain. And now