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Nr. Aiken. I saw his son to-day, and he is before you reach this paragraph, you will
have suffered, I enclose you two poems I Dugald Stewart, and some of my learned lave carded and spun since I passed Glenfriends, put me in the periodical paper called buck. the Lounger (14,) a copy of which I here One blank in the Address to Edinburgh enclose you. I was, Sir, when I was first -“Fair B-" is heavenly Miss Burnet, honoured with your notice, too obscure; daughter to Lord Monboddo, at whose now I tremble lest I should be ruined by house I have had the honour to be more being dragged too suddenly into the glare than once There has not been anything of polite and learned observation.
nearly like her in all the combinations of I shall certainly, my ever-honoured patron, 1 beauty, grace, and goodness, the great write you an account of my every step; and Creator has formed, since Milton's Eve on better health and more spirits may enable the first day of her existence. me to make it something better than this My direction is-care of Andrew Bruce, stupid matter-of-fact epistle. I have the merchant, Bridge Street.
R. B. honour to be, good Sir, your ever grateful humble servant,
R. B. If any of my friends write me, my direction is, care of Mr Creech, bookseller, TO DR. MACKENZIE, MAUCHLINE ;
ENCLOSING HIM VERSES ON DINING
WITH LORD DAER.
TO MR. WILLIAJ CHALMERS,
I’ednesday Morning, 1787. WRITER, AYR.
DEAR SIR.--I never spent an afternoon
among great folks with half that pleasure, Edinburgh, Dec. 27th, 1786,
as when, in company with you, I had the MY DEAR FRIEND.-I confess I have honour of paying my devoirs to that plain, simued the sin for which there is hardly any honest, worthy man, the professor (Dugald forgiveness-ingratitude to friendship-in Stewart]. I would be delighted to see him not writing you sooner; bit of all men perform acts of kindness and friendship, living, I had intended to have sent you an though I were not the object; he does it entertaining letter; and by all the plodding, with such a grace. I think his character, stupid powers, that in noulding conceited divided into ten parts, stands thus---four majesty preside over the dull routine of parts Socrates-four parts Nathaniel-and business-a lieavily-solemn oath this ! I two parts Shakspeare's Brutus. am and have been, ever since I came to The foregoing verses were really exEdinburgh, as unfit to write a letter of tempore, but a little corrected since. They humour as to write a commentary on the may entertain you a little, with the help of Revelation of St. John the Divine, who was that partiality with which you are so good banished to the Isle of Patmos by the cruel as to favour the performances of, dear Sir, and bloody Domitian, son to Vespasian and your very humble servant,
R. B. brother to Titus, both emperors of Rome, and who was himself an emperor, and raised the second or third persecution, I forget which, against the Christians, and after
TO JOHN BALLANTINE, ESQ. throwing the said Apostle John, brother to
January, 1787. the Apostle James, commonly called James the Greater, to distinguish him from another WHILE here I sit, sad and solitary, by James, who was on some account or other the side of a fire in a little country inn, and known by the name of James the Less | drying my wet clothes, in pops a poor after throwing him into a caldron of boiling fellow of a sodyer, and tells me is going to oil, from which he was miraculously pre- Ayr. By heavens! say I to myself, with a served, he banished the poor son of Zebedee tide of good spirits which the magic of that to a desert island in the Archipelago, where sound, auld toon o' Ayr, conjured up, I will he was gifted with the second sight, and saw send my last song to Mr. Ballantine. Here as many wild beasts as I have seen since I it is--came to Edinburgh; which, a--circumstance Ye flowery banks o' bonnie Doon, not very uncommon in story-telling-brings
How can ye blume sae fair; me back to where I set out.
How can ye chant, ye little birds, To make you some amends for what.
And I sae fu' of care ! --&c. R. B.
that I will be happier anywhere than in my
old neighbourhood, but Mr. Miller is no 10 THE EARL OF EGLINTON.
judge of land ; and though I dare say he Edinburgh, January, 1787. means to favour me, yet he may give me, in MY LORD.--As I have but slender pre- ruin me. I am to take a tour by Dumfries as I
his opinion, an advantageous bargain that may tensions to philosophy, I cannot rise to the exalted ideas of a citizen of the world, but Miller on his lands some time in May.
return, and have promised to meet Mr. have all those national prejudices which,
I went to a mason-lodye yesternight, I believe, glow peculiarly strong in the breast where the most Worshipful Grand Master of a Scotchman. There is scarcely anything Chartres, and all the Grand Lodge of Scotto which I am so feelingly alive as the land, visited. The meeting was numerous honour and welfare of my country; and as
and elegant; all the different lodges about a poet, I have no higher enjoyment than
town were present, in all their pomp. The singing her sons and daughters. Fate had
Grand Master, who presided with great cast my station in the yeriest shades of solemnity and honour to himself as a gentlelife; but never did a heart pant more
man and mason, among other general toasts, ardently than mine to be distinguished,
“Caledonia, and Caledonia's Bard, though till, very lately, I looked in vain on
Brother Burns," which rang through the every side for a ray of light. It is easy,
whole assembly with multiplied honours and then, to guess how much I was gratitied with the countenance and approbation of repeated acclamations. As I had no idea
such a thing would happen, I was downright one of my country's most illustrious sons, thunderstruck, and, trembling in every nerve, when Mr. Wauchope called on me yesterday made the best return in my power. Just as on the part of your lordship. Your munificence, my lord, certainly deserves my said so loud that I could hear, with a most
I had finished, some of the grand officers very grateful acknowledgments; but your comforting accent, “Very well
, indeed !" patronage is a bounty peculiarly suited to
which set me something to rights again. my feelings. I am not master enough of
I have to-day corrected my 152nd page. the etiquette of life to know, whether there My best good wishes to Mr. Aiken. be not some impropriety in troubling your I am ever, dear Sir, your much indebted lordship with my thanks, but my heart
R. B. whispered me to do it. From the emotions of my inmost soul I do it. Selfish ingratitude, I hope, I am incapable of; and niercenary servility, I trust, I shall ever have so much honest pride as to detest. R. B.
TO MRS. DUNLOP.
Edinburgh, January 15th, 1787. MADAM.--Yours of the 9th current, which
I am this moment honoured with, is a deep TO JOHN BALLANTINE, Esq. reproach to me' for ungrateful neglect. I
will tell you the real truth, for I am miserEdinburgh, Jan. 14th, 1787.
ably awkward at a fib, I wished to have MY HONOURED FRIEND.-It gives me a written to Dr. Moore before I wrote to you ; secret comfort to observe in myself that Ibut, though every day since I received yours am not yet so far gone as Willie Gaw's of December 30th, the idea, the wish to Skate, "past redemption ;” (15) for I have write to him, has constantly pressed on my still this favourable symptom of grace, that thouglıts, yet I could not for my soul set, when my conscience, as in the case of this about it. I know his fame and character, letter, tells me I am
am leaving something and I am one of “the sons of little men. undone that I ought to do, it teazes me To write him a mere matter-of-fact affair, eternally till I do it.
like a merchant's order, would be disgracing I am still “ dark as was chaos” in respect the little character I have; and to write the to futurity. My generous friend, Mr. author of “ The View of Society and ManPatrick Miller, has been talking with me ners” a letter of sentiment I declarè every about a lease of some farm or other in an
artery runs cold at the thought. I shall estate called Dalswinton, which he has try, however, to write to him to-morrow or lately bought near Dumfries. Some life- ' next day. His kind interposition in my rented embittering recollections whisper me ' behalf I have already experienced, as a gen.
tleman waited on me the other day, on the tenaciousness of propriety. I mention this part of Lord Eglinton, with ten guineas, by to you once for all, to disburden my mind, way of subscription for two copies of my and I do not wish to hear or say more about next edition.
it. But, The word you object to in the mention I
When proud fortune's ebbing tide recedes, have made of my glorious countryman and your immortal ancestor, is indeed borrowed you will bear me witness, that when my from Thomson; but it does not strike me as
bubble of fame was at the highest, I stood an improper epithet. I distrusted my own
uvintoxicated, with the inebriating cup in judgment on your finding fault with it, and my hand, looi in ; forward with rueful resolve applied for the opinion of some of the to the hastening time when the blow of literati here who honour me with their calumny should dash it to the ground, with critical strictures, and they all allow it to be all the eagerness of vengeful triumph. proper. The song you ask I cannot recol
Your patronising me, and interesting sect, and I have not a copy of it. I have yourself in my fame and character as a poet, not composed any thing on the
I rejoice in-it exalts me in my own ideaWallace, exeept what you have seen in and whether you can or cannot aid me in print, and the enclosed, which I will print in my subscription, is a trifle. Has a paltry this edition. You will see I have mentioned subscription-bill any charms to the heart of some others of the name. When I com
a bard, compared with the patronage of the posed my Vision long ago, I had attempted descendant of the immortal Wallace ?" a description of Kyle, of which the addi
R. B. tional stanzas are a part as it originally stood. My heart glows with a wish to be : able to do justice to the merits of the “ saviour of his country,” which, sooner or later, I shall at least atteinpt.
TO DR. MOORE. (16) You are afraid I shall
shall grow intoxicated with my prosperity as a poet : alas ! Madam,
Edinburgh, Jan. 1787. I know myself and the world too well. I do SIR.-Mrs. Dunlop has been so kind as to not mean any airs of affected modesty ; I send me extracts of letters she has had from am willing to believe that my abilities you, where you do the rustic bard the deserve some notice; but in a most en honour of noticing him and his works. lightened, informed age and nation, when Those who have felt the anxieties and poetry is and has been the study of men of solicitudes of authorship, can only know powers of polite learning, polite books, and
ten all the what pleasure it gives to be noticed in such
a inanner, by judges of the first character. polite company to be dragged forth to the Your criticisms, Sir, I receive with reverence; full glare of learned and polite observation, only I am sorry they mostly came too late; with all my imperfections of awkward rus- a peccant passage or two that I would certicity and crude impolished ideas in my tainly have altered, were gone to the press. head-I assure you, Madam, I do not dis- The hope to be admired for ages, is, in by semble when I tell you I tremble for the far the greater part of those eren who are consequences. The novelty of a poet in my anthors of repute, an unsubstantial dream. obscure situation, without any of those For my part, my first ambition was, and still advantages which are reckoned necessary my strongest wish is, to please my compeers, for that character, at least at this time of the rustic inmates of the hamlet, while everday, has raised à partial tide of public changing language and manners shall allow notice which has borne me to a height, me to be relished and understood. I am where I am absolutely, feelingly certain, my very willing to admit that I have some poeabilities are inadequate to support me; and tical abilities; and as few, if any writers, too surely do I see that time when the same either moral or poetical, are intimately actide will leave me, and recede, perhaps, as quainted with the classes of mankind among far below the mark of truth. I do not say whom I liave chiefly iningled, I may have this in the ridiculous affectation of self- seen men and manners in a different phasis abasement and modesty. I have studied from what is common, which may assist myself, and know what ground I occupy; originality of thought. Still I know very and however a friend or the world may differ well the novelty of my character has by far from me in that particular, I stand for my the greatest share in the learned and polite own opinion, in silent resolve, with all the notice I have lately had; and in a language
where Pope and Churchill have raised the celebrated "Man of Feeling," paid to Miss laugh, and Shenstone and Gray drawn the Lawrie, the other night, at the concert. I tear; where Thomson and Beattie have had come in at the interlude, and sat down painted the landscape, and Lyttleton and by him till I saw Miss Lawrie in a seat not Collins described the heart, I am not vain very distant, and went up to pay my enongh to hope for distinguished poetic respects to her. On my return to Mr. fame,
R. B. Mackenzie, he asked me who she was; I
told him 'twas the daughter of a reverend friend of mine in the west country. He returned, there was something very striking,
to his idea, in her appearance. TO THE REV. G. LAWRIE,
desiring to know what it was, he was
pleased to say, “She has a great deal of the NEWMILLS, NEAR
elegance of a well-bred lady about her, with
all the sweet simplicity of a country girl.” Edinburgh, Feb. 5th, 1787.
My compliments to all the happy inmates REVEREND AND DEAR SIR.---When I of St. Margaret's. I am, my dear Sir, yours look at the date of your kind letter, my niost gratefully,
ROBERT BURNS. heart reproaches me severely with ingratitude in neglecting so long to answer it. I will not trouble you with any account, hy way of apology, of my hurried life and distracted attention; do me the justice to believe that my delay by no means proceeded from want of respect. I feel, and ever shall
TO JAMES DALRYMPLE, ESQ. feel for you, the mingled sentiments for a friend, and reverence for a father.
Edinburgh, 1787. I thank you, Sir, with all my soul, for your friendly hints, though I do not need them DEAR SIR.-I suppose the devil is so so much as my friends are apt to imagine. elated with his siiccess with you, that he is You are dazzled with newspaper accounts determiner, by a coup de main, to complete and distant reports; but, in reality, I have his purposes on you all at once, in making no great temptation to be intoxicated with you a poet. I broke open the letter you the
cup of prosperity. Novelty may attract sent me--hummed over the rhymes-and as the attention of mankind a while; to it I I saw they were extempore, said to myself, owe my present éclat; but I see the time they were very well ; but when I saw at the not far distant when the popular tide, which bottom a name that I shall ever value with has borne me to a height of which I am grateful respect, “ I gapit wide, but naething perhaps unworthy, shall recede with silent spak.” I was nearly as much struck as the celerity, and leave me a barren waste of friends of Job, of atiliction-bearing memory, sand, to descend at my leisure to my former when they sat down with him seven days station. I do not say this in the atiectation and seven nights, and spake not a word. of modesty; I see the consequence is un- I am naturally of a superstitious cast, and avoidable, and am prepared for it. I had as soon as my wonder-scared imagination oeen at a good deal of pains to form a just, regained its consciousness, and resumed its inipartial estimate of my intellectual powers functions, I cast about what this mania of before I came here; I have not added, since yours might portend. My foreboding ideas I came to Edinburgh, any thing to the had the wide stretch of possibility, and account; and I trust I shall take every atom several events, great in their magnitude, and of it. back to my shades, the coverts of my important in their consequences, occurred to unnoticed early years.
my fancy. The downfall of the conclave, or In Dr. Blacklock, whom I see very often, the crushing of the Cork rumps-a ducal I have found what I would have expected coronet to Lord George Gordon, and the in our friend, a clear head and an excellent Protestant interest-or St. Peter's keys to lieart.
By far the most agreeable hours I spend You want to know how I come on. I am in Edinburgh, must be placed to the account just in statu quo, or, not to insult a gentleof Miss Lawrie and her piano-forte. I can- man with my Latin, in "auld use and not help repeating to you and Mrs. Lawrie / wont.” The noble Earl of Glencairn took a compliment that Mr. Mackenzie, the l we wy' tiig hullu 10-day, and interested him.
* * * * *
self in my concerns, with a goodness like that benevolent being whose image he so richly bears. He is a stronger proof of the
TO JOHN BALLANTINE, ESQ. iminortality of the soul than any that phi.
Edinburgh, Feb. 24, 1787. losophy ever produced. A mind like his can never die. Let the worshipful squire
MY HONOURED FRIEND.--I will soon H. L., or the reverend Mast. J. M. go into
be with you now,
you now, in guid black prent--in a their primitive nothing. At best, they are
weer but ill-digested lumps of chaos, only one of against my own wish, to print subscribers them strongly tinged with bituminous
names; so if any of my Ayr friends liave particles and sulphureous effluvia. But my
subscription bills, they must be sent into noble patron, eternal as the heroic swell of
Creech directly. I am getting my phiz done magnanimity, and the generous throb of by an eminent engraver, and if it can be benevolence, shall look on with princely eye ready in time, I will appear in my book, at “the war of elements, the wreck of looking, like all other fools, to my title-page. miatter, and the crash of worlds." R. B.
TO DR. MOORE.
TO MR. WILLIAM DUNBAR. (18.) Edinburgh, February 15th, 1787. SIR.-Pardon my seeming neglect in
Lawn Market, Msonday Morning, 1787. delaying so long to acknowledge the honour
DEAR SIR.-In justice to Spenser, I must you have done me, in your kind notice of me, acknowledge that there is scarcely a poet in January 23rd. Not many months ago I the language could have been a more agreeknew vo other employment than following able present to me; and in justice to you, the plough, nor could boast any thing higher allow me to say, Sir, that I have not met than a distant acquaintance with a country with a man in Edinburgh to whom I would clergyman.
Mere greatness never so willingly have been indebted for the gift. barasses me; I have nothing to ask from the The tattered rhymes I herewith present you, great, and I do not fear their jndyment; and the handsome volumes of Spenser but genius, polished by learning, and at its for which I am so much indebted to your proper point of elevation in the eye of the goodness, may perhaps be not in proportion world, this of late I frequently meet with, to one another; but be that as it may, my and tremble at its approach. I scorn the rift, though far less valuable, is as sincere a affectation of seeming modesty to cover self- mark of esteem as yours. conceit. That I have some merit, I do not
The time is approaching when I shall redeny; but I see with frequent wringings of turn to my shades; and I am afraid my heart, that the novelty of my character, and
numerous Edinburgh friendships are of so the honest national prejudice of my country- tender a construction, that they will not men; have borne me to a height altogether bear carriage with me. Yours is one of the untenable to my abilities.
few that I could wish of a more robust conFor the honour Miss Williams has done stitution. It is indeed very probable that me, please, Sir, return her in my name my when I leave this city, we part never more most grateful thanks. I have more than
to meet in this sublunary sphere ; but I once thought of paying her in kind, but have have a strong fancy that in some future hitherto quitted the idea in hopeless des- eccentric planet, the comet of happier syspondency. I had never before heard of tems than any with which astronomy is yet her ; but the other day I got her poems, acquainted, you and I, among the harumwhich, for several reasons, some belonging to
scarum sons of imagination and whim, with the head, and others the offspring of the
a hearty shake of a hand, a metaphor and a heart, give me a great deal of pleasure. I laugh, shall recognise old acquaintance: have little pretensions to critic lore; there are, I think, two characteristic features in Where wit may sparkle all its rays,
Uncurst with caution's fears; her poetry--the unfettered wild flight of native genius, and the querulous, sombre
That pleasure, basking in the blaze, tenderness of " time-settled sorrow.'
Rejoice for endless years. I only know what pleases me, often with- I have the honour to be, with the warm. out being able to tell why.
R. B. (17)