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TO THE REV. JOHN SKINNER.
pay Charlotte a poetic compliment, if I could hit on some glorious old Scotch air, in
NO. LXVII. number second. (44) You will see a small TO THE REV. JOHN SKINNER. attempt on a shred of paper in the book; but though Dr. Blacklock commended it very
Edinburgh, October 25, 1787. highly, I am not just satisfied with it myself. REVEREND AND VENERABLE SIR.-I intend to make it a description of some kind; | Accept, in plain dull prose, my most the whining cant of love, except in real pas- sincere thanks for the best poetical complision, and by a masterly hand, is to me as ment I ever received, I assure you, Sir, as insufferable as the preaching cant of old a poet, you have conjured up an airy demon Father Smeaton, whig-minister at Kilmaurs. I of vanity in my fancy, which the best abilities Darts, flames, Cupids, loves, graces, and all in your other capacity would be ill able to that farrago, are just a Mauchline , lay. I regret, and while I live I shall rea senseless rabble.
gret, that when I was in the north, I had I got an excellent poetic epistle yesternight not the pleasure of paying a younger from the old venerable author of “Tulloch- brother's dutiful respect to the author of the gorum," “ John of Badenyon," &c. (45). I best Scotch song ever Scotland saw," Tul. suppose you know he is a clergyman. It is lochgorum's my Delight!” The world may by far the finest poetic compliment I ever think slightingly of the craft of song-making, got. I will send you a copy of it.
| if they please; but, as Job says, “Oh that I go on Thursday or Friday to Dumfries, mine adversary had written a book !"--let to wait on Mr. Miller about his farms. Do them try. There is a certain something in tell that to Lady Mackenzie, that she may the old Scotch sonys, a wild happiness of give me credit for a little wisdom. “I, thought and expression, which peculiarly Wisdom, dwell with Prudence." Wliat a marks them, not only from English songs, blessed fire-side! How happy should I be but also from the modern efforts of songto pass a winter evening under their vene- wriyhts, in our native manner and language. rable roof; and smoke a pipe of tobacco, or The only remains of this enchantment, these drink water-gruel with them! With solemn, spells of the imagination, rest with you. lengthened, laughter-quashing gravity of Our true brother, Ross of Lochlee, was likephiz! What sage remarks on the good-for-wise “owre cannie”_"a wild warlock”nothing sons and daughters of indiscretion but now he sings among the “sons of the and folly! And what frugal lessons, as we i morning." straitened the tire-side circle, on the uses of I have often wished, and will certainly the poker and tongs!
endeavour, to form a kind of common acMiss N. is very well, and begs to be quaintance among all the genuine sons of remembered in the old way to you. I used Caledonian song. The world, busy in low all my eloquence, all the persuasive flourishes prosaic pursuits, may overlook niost of us; of the hand, and heart-melting modulation but "reverence thyself.” The world is not of periods in my power, to urge her out to our peers, so we challenge the jury. We Harvieston, but all in vain. My rhetoric | can lash that world, and find ourselves a seems quite to have lost its effect on the very great source of amusement and happilovely half of mankind. I have seen the day ness independent of that world. --but this is a "tale of other years :"_On! There is a work going on in Edinburgh my conscience I believe that my heart has just now, which claims your best assistance. been so oft on fire that it is absolutely vitri- | An engraver in this town has set about colfied. I look on the sex with something like lecting and publishing all the Scotch songs, the admiration with which I regard the with the music, that can be found. Songs, starry sky in a frosty December night. I in the English language, if by Scotchmen, admire the beauty of the Creator's workman-are admitted, but the music must all be ship; I am charmed with the wild but Scotch. Drs. Beattie and Blacklock are graceful eccentricity of their motions, and lending a hand, and the first musician in wish them good night. I mean this with town presides over that department. I have respect to a certain passion dont j'ai eu l'hon. | been absolutely crazed about it, collecting neur d'etre un miserable esclave: as for old stanzas, and every information remaining friendship, you and Charlotte have given me i respecting their origin, authors, &c., &c. pleasure, permanent pleasure, “which the This last is but a very fragment business; world cannot give, nor take away," I hope, but at the end of his second number-the und which will outlast the heavens and the first is already published--a small account earth,
R. B. will be given of the authors, particularly to
preserve those of latter times. Your three claim a parental pang from my bardship. I songs, “Tullochgorum,” “John of Badenyon," suppose it will appear in Johnson's second and “Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn," go in this number the first was published before my second number. I was determined, before I acquaintance with him. My request is got your letter, to write you, begging that “Cauld Kail in Aberdeen” is one intended you would let me know where the editions for this number, and I beg a copy of his of these pieces may be found, as you would Grace of Gordon's words to it, which you wish them to continue in future times; and were so kind as to repeat to me. (47) You if you would be so kind to this undertaking may be sure we won't prefix the author's as send any songs, of your own or others, name, except you like, though I look on it as that you would think proper to publish, no small merit to this work that the names your name will be inserted among the other of so many of the authors of our old Scotch authors-"nill ye, will ye.” One half of songs, names almost forgotten, will be in. Scotland already give your songs to other serted. I do not well know where to write authors. Paper is done. I beg to hear to you-I rather write at you; but if you from you; the sooner the better, as I leave will be so obliging, immediately on receipt of Edinburgh in a fortnight or three weeks. I this, as to write me a few lines, I shall peram, with the warmest sincerity, Sir, your haps pay you in kind, though not in quality. obliged humble servant,
R. B. Johnson's terms are :-each number a hand
some pocket volume, to consist of at least a hundred Scotch songs, with basses for the
harpsichord, &c. The price to subscribers, NO. LXVIII.
5s.; to non-subscribers, 6s. He will have
three numbers, I conjecture. TO JAMES IIOY, ESCO
My direction for two or three weeks will GORDON CASTLE. (46)
be at Mr. William Cruikshank's, St. James'
Square, New Town, Edinburgh. I am, Sir, Edinburgh, October 30th, 1787. yours to command,
R. B. SIR.-I will defend my conduct in giving you this trouble, on the best of Christian principles" Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye eren so unto
NO. LXIX. them." I shall certainly, among my legacies leave my latest curse to that unlucky pre
TO THE SAME. dicament which hurried-tore me away from
Edinburgh, November 6th, 1787. periods, and damned to seven league para- DEAR SIR.—I would have wrote you graphs; while Declension and Conjugation, immediately on receipt of your kind letter Gender, Number and Tense, under the but a mixed impulse of gratitude and esteem ragged banners of Dissonance and Disar | whispered to me that I ought to send you rangement, eternally rank against him in something by way of return. When a poet hostile array.
lowes anything, particularly when he is in. Allow me, Sir, to strengthen the small debted for good offices, the payment that, claim I have to your acquaintance, by the usually recurs to him the only coin indeed following request. An engraver, James in which he is probably conversant is Johnson, in Edinburgh, has, not from mer- rhyme. Johnson sends the books by the cenary views, but from an honest Scotch fly, as directed, and begs me to enclose his enthusiasm, set about collecting all our most grateful thanks ; my return I intended native songs, and setting them to music, should have been one or two poetic bagaparticularly those that have never been set telles which the world have not seen, or, before. Clarke, the well-known musician, perhaps, for obvious reasons, cannot see, presides over the musical arrangement, and These I shall send you before I leave EdinDrs. Beattie and Blacklock, Mr. Tytler of buryh. They may make you laugh a little, Woodliouselee, and your humble servant to which, on the whole, is no bad way of spend. the utmost of his small power, assist in ing one's precious hours and still more precollecting the old poetry, or sometimes, for cious breath ; at any rate, they will be, a fine air, make a stanza when it has no though a small, yet a very sincere, mark of words. The brats, too tedious to mention, my respectful esteem for a gentleman whose
TO THE EARL OF GLENCAIRN.
295 farther acquaintance I should look upon as a my temper and manner may perhaps somepeculiar obligation.
times make you suspect that I am not The duke's song, independent totally of so warmly as I ought to be your friend, his dukeship, charms me. There is I know not what of wild happiness of thought and expression peculiarly beautiful in the old Scottish song style, of which his Grace, old venerable Skinner, the author of “ Tulloch
NO. LXXI. gorum,” &c., and the late Ross, at Lochlee,
TO THE EARL OF GLENCAIRN. of true Scottish poetic memory, are the
Edinburgh, 1787. only modern instances that I recollect, since Ramsay, with his contemporaries, and poor
MY LORD.— I know your lordship will Bob Fergusson, went to the world of death disapprove of my ideas in a request I am less existence and truly immortal song. The going to make to you; but I have weighed, mob of mankind, that many-headed beast,
long and seriously weighed, my situation, would laugh at so serious a speech about an my hopes and turn of mind, and am fully old song; but as Job says, “ Oh that mine fixed to my scheine, if I can possibly effectu. adversary had written a book!" Those who
ate it. I wish to get into the Excise: I am think that composing a Scotch song is a
told that your lordship's interest will easily trifling business, let them try.
procure me the grant from the commissionI wish my Lord Duke would pay a proper
ers; and your lordship's patronage and attention to the Christian admonition goodness, which have already rescued me “ Hide not your candle under a bushel,” but from obscurity, wretchedness and exile, • Let your light shine before men.” I could | embolden me to ask that interest. You name half a dozen dukes that I guess are a ! have likewise put it in my power to save the devilish deal worse employed; nay, I ques
little tie of home that sheltered an aged tion if there are half a dozen better : per
mother, two brothers, and three sisters, from haps there are not half that scanty number
destruction. There, my lord, you have whom Heaven has favoured with the tuneful,
bound me over to the highest gratitude. happy, and I will say, glorious gift. il My brother's farm is but a wretched am, dear Sir, your obliged humble servant, | lease, but I think he will probably weather
out the remaining seven years of it; and after the assistance which I have given, and will give him, to keep the family together, I
think, by my guess, I shall have rather NO. LXX.
better than two hundred pounds, and instead
of seeking, what is almost impossible at TO ROBERT AINSLIE, Esq., present to find, a farm that I can certainly EDINBURGH.
live by, with so small a stock, I shall lodge Edinburgh, Sunday Morning,
this sum in a banking-house, a sacred Nov. 23, 1787.
deposit, excepting only the calls of un
common distress or necessitous old age. I BEG, my dear Sir, you would not make These, my lord, are my views: I have any appointment to take us to Mr. Ainslie's resolved from the maturest deliberation; to-night. On looking over my engagements, and now I am fixed, I shall leave no stone constitution, present state of my health, unturned to carry my resolve into execution. some little vexatious soul concerns, &c., I | Your lordship’s patronage is the strength of find I can't sup abroad to-night. I shall be my hopes; nor have I yet applied to any. in to-day till one o'clock, if you have a body else. Indeed, my heart sinks within leisure hour.
me at the idea of applying to any other of You will think it romantic when I tell the great who have honoured me with their you, that I find the idea of your friendship countenance. I am ill qualified to dog the almost necessary to my existence. You heels of greatness with the impertinence assume a proper length of face in my bitter of solicitation, and tremble nearly as much hours of blue-devilism, and you laugh fully at the thought of the cold promise as the up to my highest wishes at my good things. cold denial; but to your lordship I have I don't know, upon the whole, if you are not only the honour, the comfort, but the one of the first fellows in God's world, but pleasure of being your lordship's much you are so to me, I tell you this just now, obliged and deeply indebted humble servant, in the conviction that some inequalities in
NO. LXXIV. TO CHARLES HAY, Esq., ADVOCATE, TO MISS CHALMERS. (ENCLOSING VERSES ON THE DEATH OF
Edinburgh, Nov. 21, 1787. LORD PRESIDENT.) (48)
I HAVE one vexatious fault to the kindly SIR.--The enclosed poem was written in welcome well-filled sheet which I owe to consequence of your suggestion, last time I your and Charlotte's (49) goodness--it conhad the pleasure of seeing you. It cost me tains too much sense, sentiment and goodan hour or two of next morning's sleep, but spelling. It is impossible that even you did not please me; so it lay by, an ill-di-two, whom I declare to my God I will give gested effort, till the other day that I gave credit for any degree of excellence the sex it a critic brush. These kind of subjects are capable of attaining-it is impossible you are much hackneyed; and, besides, the can go on to correspond at that rate; so, wailings of the rhyming tribe over the ashes like those who, Shenstone says, retire of the great are cursedly suspicious, and out because they have made a good speech, I of all character for sincerity. These ideas shall, after a few letters, hear no more of damped my muse's fire; however, I have you. I insist that you shall write whatever done the best I could, and, at all events, it comes first : what you see, what you read, gives me an opportunity of declaring that I what you hear, what you admire, what you have the honour to be, Sir, your obliged dislike, trifles, bagatelles, nonsense; or to humble servant,
R. B. fill up a corner, e'en put down a laugh at
full length. Now, none of your polite hints about flattery; I leave that to your lovers,
if you have or shall have any; though, thank NO. LXXIII.
luxuriantly happy in their own minds and TO MISS M- N.
with one another, without that commonly
necessary appendage to female bliss.-A Saturday Noon, No. 2, St. James's Square, ' LOVER New Town, Edinburgh.
Charlotte and you are just two favourite HERE have I sat, my dear Madam, in
resting-places for my soul in her wanderings
through the weary, thorny wilderness of this the stony altitude of perplexed study for !
world. God knows, I am ill-fitted for the fifteen vexatious minutes, my head askew, bending over the intended card; my fixed
want to be thought a wise man I would eye insensible to the very light of day
fondly be generous, and I wish to be rich. poured around; my pendulous goose-feather,
After all, I am afraid I am a lost subject. loaded with ink, hanging over the future
"Some folk hae a hantle ofauts, and I'm letter, all for the important purpose of writing a complimentary card to acconipany |
but a ne'er-do-weel.”
Afternoon.--To close the melancholy re. your trinket.
|flections at the end of the last sheet, I shall Compliment is such a miserable Green
just add a piece of devotion, commonly land expression, lies at such chilly polar distance from the torrid zone of my con
known in Carrick by the title of the “ Wab. stitution, that I cannot, for the very soul of
Some say we're thieves, and e'en sae are we, me, use it to any person for whom I have
Some say we lie, and e'en sae do we! the twentieth part of the esteem every
Guid forgie us, and I hope sae will he! one must have for you who knows you, As I leave town in three or four days, I
-Up and to your looms, lads! R. B. can give myself the pleasure of calling on you only for a minute. Tuesday evening, some time about seven or after, I shall wait on
NO. LXXV. you for your farewell commands. The hinge of your box I put into the hands
TO THE SAME. of the proper connoisseur. The broken glass, likewise, went under review; but deliberate
Edinburgh, Dec. 12, 1787. wisdom thought it would too much endanger I am here under the care of a surgeon, the whole fabric. I am, dear Madam, with with a bruised limb extended on a cushion ; all sincerity of enthusiasm, your very obedi- and the tints of niy mind vying with the ent servant,
R. B. | livid horror preceding a midnight thunder. fear.
TO MISS CHALMERS.
297 storm. A drunken coachman was the cause alas! frequent defeat. There are just two of the first, and incomparably the iightest creatures I would envy; a horse in his wild evil; misfortune, bodily constitution, hell, state traversing the forests of Asia, or an and myself, have formed a "quadruple alli- oyster on some of the desert shores of ance" to guarantee the other. I got my fall | Europe. The one has not a wish without on Saturday, and am getting slowly better. enjoyment, the other has neither wish nor I have taken tooth and nail to the Bible, i
R. B. and am got through the five books of Moses, and half way in Joshua. It is really a glorious book. I sent for my book-binder today, and ordered him to get me an octavo
NO. LXXVII. Bible in sheets, the best paper and print in
TO THE SAME. town, and bind it with all the elegance of his craft.
Edinburgh, Dec., 1787. I would give my best song to my worst MY DEAR Madam.-I just now have enemy-I mean the merit of making it--to read yours. The poetic compliments I pay have you and Charlotte by me. You are ! cannot be misunderstood. They are neither angelic creatures, and would pour oil and of them so particular as to point you out to wine into my wounded spirit.
the world at large; and the circle of your I enclose you a proof copy of the “Banks acquaintances will allow all I have said. of the Devon," which present with my best Besides, I have complimented you chiefly, wishes to Charlotte. The “Ochil-hills" (50) | almost solely, on your mental charms. Shall you shall probably have next week for your ! I be plain with you? I will; so look to it. self. None of your fine speeches! R. B. Personal attractions, Madam, you have much
above par; wit, understanding and worth, you possess in the first class. This is a
cursed flat way of telling you these truths, NO. LXXVI.
but let me liear no more of your sheepish TO THE SAME.
timidity. I know the world a little. I know
what they will say of my pocnis--by second Edinburgh, Dec. 19th, 1787.
sight, I suppose--for I am seldom out in my I BEGIN this letter in answer to your's conjectures; and you may believe me, my of the 17th current, which is not yet cold dear Madam, I would not run any risk of since I read it. The atmosphere of my soul hurting you by any ill-judgeil compliment. is vastly clearer than when I wrote you last. . I wish to show the world the odds between For the first time, yesterday I crossed the a poet's friends and those of siniple proseroom on crutches. It would do your heart men. More for your information, both the good to see my bardship, not on my poetic,pieces go in. One of them, “Where braving but on my oaken stilts; throwing my best angry Winter's Storins," is already set--the leg with an air! and with as much hilarity tune in Neil Gow's Lamentation for Aberin my gait and countenance, as a May frog cairny; the other is to be set to an old leaping across the newly harrowed ridge, Highland air in Daniel Dow's collection of enjoymg the fragrance of the refreshed earth, ancient Scots music; the name is "Hall after the long-expected shower!
Chaillich air mo Dheith.” My treacherous I can't say I am altogether at my ease memory has forgot every circumstance about when I see anywhere in my path that mea. Las Incas; only, I think you mentioned gre, squalid, famine-faced spectre, poverty; them as being in Creech's possession. I attended, as he always is, by iron-fisted shall ask him about it. I am afraid the song oppression and leering contempt; but I of “Somebody” will come too late-as I have sturdily withstood his buffettings many shall for certain leave town in a week for a hard-laboured day already, and still my | Ayrshire, and from that to Dumfries, but motto is--I DARE! My worst enemy is there my hopes are slender. I leave my moi même. I lie so miserably open to the direction in town; so any thing, wherever I inroads and incursions of a mischievous, | am, will reach me. light-armed, well-mounted banditti, under I saw yours to ; it is not too the banners of imagination, whim, caprice severe, nor did he take it amiss. On the and passion; and the heavy-armed veteran contrary, like a whipt spaniel, he talks of regulars of wisdom, prudence and fore- being with you in the Christmas days. Mr. thought move so very, very slow, that I am
has given him the invitation, and he almost in a state of perpetual warfare, and, is determined to accept of it. Oh selfish