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ness! he owns, in his sober moments, that you kindly view me, that you will do me from his own volatility of inclination, the the justice to believe this letter is not the circumstances in which he is situated, and manæuvre of the needy, sharping author, his knowledge of his father's disposition, the fastening on those in upper life who honour whole affair is chimerical-yet he will gratify him with a little notice of him and his works. an idle penchant at the enormous, cruel Indeed, the situation of poets is generally expense, of perhaps ruining the peace of the such, to a proverb, as may, in some measure, very woman for whom he professes the palliate that prostitution of heart and talents generous passion of love! He is a gentle- they have at times been guilty of. I do not man in his mind and manners--tant pis! | think prodigality is, by any means, a necessary He is a volatile school-boy-the heir of a concomitant of a poetic turn, but I believe a man's fortune who well knows the value of careless, indolent inattention to economy is two times two!
almost inseparable from it; then there must Perdition seize them and their fortunes, be in the heart of every bard of Nature's before they should make the amiable, the making a certain modest sensibility, mixed lovely
the derided object of their with a kind of pride, that will ever keep him purse-proud contempt!
out of the way of those windfalls of fortune I am doubly happy to hear of Mrs. s which frequently light on hardy impudence recovery, because I really thought all was and foot-licking servility. It is not easy to over with her. There are days of pleasure imagine a more helpless state than his whose yet awaiting her :
poetic fancy unfits him for the world, and
whose character as a scholar gives him some As I cam in by Glenap,
pretensions to the politessse of life-yet is I met with an aged woman; She bade me cheer up my heart,
as poor as I am.
For my part, I thank Heaven my star has For the best o' my days was comin.' (51)
been kinder ; learning never elevated my This day will decide my affairs with Creech. ideas above the peasant's shed, and I have Things are, like myself, not what they ought | an independent fortune at the plough-tail
. to be; yet better than what they appear
I was surprised to hear that any one who to be.
pretended in the least to the manners of the
gentleman, should be so foolish, or worse, as Heaven's Sovereign saves all but himself
to stoop to traduce the morals of such a one That hideous sight-a vaked human heart.
as I am, and so unhumanly cruel, too, as to Farewell! remember me to Charlotte. meddle with that late most unfortunate, un
R. B. happy part of my story. With a tear of
gratitude, I thank you, Sir, for the warmth with which you interposed in behalf of my conduct. I am, I acknowledge, too frequently
the sport of whim, caprice and passion ; but TO SIR JOHN WHITEPOORD. reverence to God, and integrity to my fellow
creatures, I hope I shall ever preserve. I Edinburgh, December, 1787.
have no return, Sir, to make
your SIR.—Mr Mackenzie, in Mauchline, my goodness but one--a return which, I am per- . very warm and worthy friend (52), has inl- suaded, will not be unacceptable--the honest, formed me how much you are pleased to warm wishes of a grateful heart for your interest yourself in my fate as a man, and happiness, and every one of that lovely flock (what to me is incomparably dearer) my fame who stand to you in a filial relation. If ever as a poet. I have, Sir, in one or two instances, calumny aim the poisoned shaft at them, been patronised by those of your character may friendship be by to ward the blow! in life, when I was introduced to their notice
R. B. by * * * * * friends to them, and honoured acquaintances to me; but you are the first gentleman in the country whose benevolence and goodness of heart has interested himself for me, unsolicited and unknown. I am MISS MARGARET CHALMERS. not master enough of the etiquette of these matters to know, nor did I stay to inquire,
December, 1787. whether formal duty bade, or cold propriety I HAVE been at Dumfries, and at one visit disallowed, my thanking you in this manner, more shall be decided about a farm in that As I am convinced, from the light in which county. I am rather hopeless in it; but as
my brother is an excellent farmer, and is, Either my apprehension is dull, or there besides, an exceedingly prudent sober man is something a little confused in the apos(qualities which are only a younger brother's trophe to Mr. Pitt. Verse 55th is the antefortune in our family), I am determined, if cedent to verses 57th and 58, but in verse my Dumfries business fail me, to remove into 58th the connection seems ungrammatical : partnership with him, and at our leisure take
Powers another farm in the neighbourhood.
I assure you I look for high compliments from you and Charlotte on this very sage
With no gradations mark'd their flight, instance of my unfathomable, incomprehen
But rose at once to glory's height. sible wisdom.—Talking of Charlotte I must Ris'n should be the word instead of rose. tell her that I have, to the best of my Try it in prose. “Powers-their flight marpower, paid her a poetic compliment now ked by no gradations, but (the same powers] completed. The air is admirable; true old risen at once to the height of glory.” LikeHighland. It was the tune of a Gaelic wise, verse 53rd, “For this,” is evidently song which an Inverness lady sang me when meant to lead on the sense of the verses I was there; I was so charmed with it, that 59th, 60th, 6lst and 62nd; but let us try I begged her to write me a set of it from her how the thread of comection runs singing, for it had never been set before. I
The deed of mercy, that embrace,
A distant sphere, an alien race, though I am convinced it is very well; and,
Shall virtue's lips record, and claim
The fairest honours of thy name. what is not always the case with compliments to ladies, it is not only sincere, but
I beg pardon if I misapprehend the matter, just.
but this appears to me the only in pu fect passage in the poem. The comparison of the sun-beam is fine.
The compliment to the Duke of Richmond TO MISS WILLIAMS (53),
is, I hope, as just as it is certainly elegant.
The thought, ON READING TIIE POEM OF THE SLAVE
Edinburgh, Dec., 1787.
Sends from her unsullied source,
The gems of thought their purest force, I KNOW very little of scientific criticism, so all I can pretend to in that intricate art is is exceedingly beautiful. The idea, from merely to note, as I read along, what
verse Slst to the 85th, that the “blest strike me as being uncommonly beautiful, decree” is like the beams of morning ushering and where the expression seems to be per
in the glorious day of liberty, ought not to plexed or faulty.
pass unnoticed or unapplauded. From verse The poem opens finely. There are none 85th to verse 108, is an animated contrast of those idle prefatory lines which one may between the unfeeling selfishness of the opskip over before one comes to the subject. pressor on the one hand, and the misery of Verses 9th and 10th in particular,
the captive on the other. Verse 88th might Where ocean's unseen bound
perhaps be amended thus:--“Nor ever quit
her narrow maze." We are said to pass a Leaves a drear world of waters round,
bound, but we quit a maze. Verse 100th is are truly beautiful. The simile of the hur- exquisitely beautiful :ricane is likewise fine; and, indeed, beautiful
They, whom wasted blessings tire. as the poem is, almost all the similes rise decidedly above it. From verse 31st to verse Verse 110th is, I doubt, a clashing of meta. 50th is a pretty eulogy on Britain. Verse phors; "to load a span” is, I am afraid, an 36th, That foul drama deep with wrong," unwarrantable expression. In verse 114th, is nobly expressive. Verse 46th, I am afraid, “Cast the universe in shade," is a fine idea. is rather unworthy of the rest; “to dare to From the 115th verse to the 142nd is a feel,” is an idea that I do not altogether like. striking description of the wrongs of the The contrast of valour and mercy, from the poor African. Verse 120th, "The load of 46th verse to the 50th, is admirable. unremitted pain," is a remarkable, strong
expression. The address to the advocates If you insert the word “like” where I for abolishing the slave-trade, from verse
as," 143rd to verse 208th, is animated with the to “darting," and "heeds” to “heeding,” in true life of genius. The picture of oppres- | order to make it grammar. A tempest is a sion
favourite subject with the poets, but I do While she links her impious chain,
not remember any thing, even in Thomson's And calculates the price of pain;
winter, superior to your verses from the Weighs agony in sordid scales,
347th to the 351st. Indeed, the last simile, And marks if death or life prevails
beginning with "Fancy may dress," &c.,
and ending with the 350th verse, is, in my is nobly executed. What a tender idea is in verse 180th! opinion, the most beautiful passage in the
poem; it would do honour to the greatest Indeed, that whole description of home may names that ever graced our profession. vie with Thomson's description of home,
I will not beg your pardon, Madam, for somewhere in the beginning of his Autumn. these strictures, as my conscience tells me, I do not remember to have seen a stronger that for once in my life I have acted up expression of misery than is contained in the duties of a Christian, in doing as I would these verses :
be done by. Condemned, severe extreme, to live
When all is fled that life can give. The comparison of our distant joys to distant objects is equally original and striking.
TO MR. RICHARD BROWN, The character and manners of the dealer in the infernal traffic is a well done, though
IRVINE. (54) a horrid picture. I am not sure how far
Edinburgh, Dec. 30th, 1787. introducing the sailor was right; for though the sailor's common characteristic is gene
MY DEAR SIR.-I have met with few roşity, yet, in this case, he is certainly not things in life which have given me more only an unconcerned witness, but, in some
pleasure than Fortune's kindness to you degree, an efficient agent in the business. since those days in which we met in the vale Verse 224th is nervous and expressive- of misery; as I can honestly say, that I “The heart convulsive anguish breaks."
never knew a man who more truly deserved The description of the captive wretch when it, or to whom my heart more truly wished he arrives in the West Indies, is carried on
it. I have been much indebted since that with equal spirit. The thought that the time to your story and sentiments for oppressor's sorrow, on seeing the slave pine, steeling my mind against evils, of which I is like the butcher's regret when his destined have had a pretty decent share. My will-o'. lamb dies a natural death, is exceedingly Sunday we spent together in Eglinton
wisp fate you know: do you recollect a fine.
woods? I am got so much into the cant of criti
You told me, on my repeating cism, that I begin to be afraid lest I have
some verses to you, that you wondered I nothing except the cant of it; and instead could resist the temptation of sending verses of elucidating my author, am only benighting this remark I derived that idea of my own
of such merit to a magazine. It was from myself. For this reason, I will not pretend to go through the whole poem. Some few pieces which encouraged me to endeavour at remaining beautiful lines, however, I cannot the character of a poet. I am happy to pass over. Verse 280th is the strongest hear that you will be two or three months
at home. As soon as a bruised limb will description of selfishness I ever saw. The comparison in verses 285th and 286th is permit me, I shall return to Ayrshire, and new and fine; and the line, “Your arms to
we shall meet; "and faith, I hope we'll not penury you lend," is excellent.
sit dumb, nor yet cast out!” In verse 317th,"like" should certainly be
I have much to tell you "of men, their as" or "80;" for instance:
manners, and their ways,” perhaps a little of
the other sex. Apropos, I beg to be rememHis sway the hardened bosom leads
bered to Mrs. Brown. There, I doubt 110t, To cruelty's remorseless deeds:
my dear friend, but you have found subAs (or, so) the blue lightning when it springs stantial happiness. I expect to find you With fury on its livid wings,
something of an altered, but not a different Darts on the goal with rapid force,
man; the wild, bold, generous young fellow Nor heeds that ruin marks its course. composed into the steady, affectionate
husband, and the fond careful parent. For drams you will never more taste; and, above me, I am just the same will-o'-wisp being I all things, I am convinced, that after drinking used to be. About the first and fourth perhaps boiling punch you will never mount quarters of the moon, I generally set in for your horse and gallop home in a chill late the trade-wind of wisdom; but about the hour. Above all things, as I understand you full and change, I am the luckless victim of are in habits of intimacy with that Boanerges mad tornadoes, which blow me into chaos. of gospel powers, Father Auld, be earnest Almighty love still reigns and revels in my with him that he will wrestle in prayer for
at this moment, ready to you, that you may see the vanity of vanities hang myself for a young Edinburgh widow in trusting to, or even practising, the casual (55), who has wit and wisdom more murde- moral works of charity, humanity, generosity, rously fatal than the assassinating stiletto of and forgiveness of things, which you practised the Sicilian bandit, or the poisoned arrow of so flagrantly, that it was evident you dethe savage African. My Highland dirk, lighted in them, neglecting, or perhaps prothat used to hang beside my crutches, I have favely despising, the wholesome doctrine of gravely removed into a neighbouring closet, faith without works, the only author of the key of which I cannot command in case salvation. A hymn of thanksgiving would, of spring-tide paroxysms. You may guess in my opinion, be highly becoming from you of her wit by the following verses, which she at present, and in my zeal for your wellsent me the other day :
being, I earnestly press on you to be diligent Talk not of love, it gives me pain,
in chanting over the two enclosed pieces of For love has been my foe;
sacreil poesy. My best compliments to Mrs.
Hamilton and Miss Kennedy. Yours, &c. He bound me with an iron chain,
My heart was formed to prove-
Thursday Evening. Oh, why that bliss destroy ?
MADAM, (56)-Ihad set no small store Why urge the odious one request, You know I must deny ?
by my tea-drinking to-night, and have not
often been so disappointed. Saturday evenMy best compliments to our friend Allan. ing I shall embrace the opportunity with Adieu !
R. B. the greatest pleasure. I leave this town
this day sen'night, and, probably for a couple of twelvemonths; but must ever regret that I so lately got an acquaintance I
shall ever highly esteem, and in whose TO MR. GAVIN HAMILTON welfare I shall ever be warmly interested.
Our worthy common friend, in her usual Edinburgh, Dec., 1787.
pleasant way, rallied me a good deal on my NIY DEAR SIR.--It is indeed with the new acquamtance, and in the humour of her highest pleasure that I congratulate you on ideas I wrote some lines, which I enclose the return of days of ease and nights of you, as I think they have a good deal of pleasure, after the horrid hours of misery in poetic merit; and Miss tells me you are which I saw you suffering existence when not only a critic, but a poetess. Fiction, last in Ayrshire. I seldom pray for any- you know, is the native region of poetry; body—"I'm baith dead-sweer and wretched and I hope you will pardon my vanity in ill o't;" but most fervently do I beseeeh sending you the bagatelle as a tolerable offthe Power that directs the world, that you hand jeu-d'esprit. I have several poetic may live long and be happy, but live no trifles, which I shall gladly leave with Miss longer than you are happy. It is needless
or you, if they were worth housefor me to advise you to have a reverend care room; as there are scarcely two people on of your health. I know you will make it a earth by whom it would mortify me more to point never at one time to drink more than be forgotten, though at the distance of ninea pint of wine (I mean an English pint), and score miles.--I am, Madam, with the highest that will never be witness to more than respect, your very humble servant, one bowl of punch at a time, and that cold
please in its place, I believe there is no
holding converse, nor carrying on corresTO THE SAME. (57)
pondence, with an amiable woman, much Saturday Erening. less a gloriously amiable, fine woman, withI CAN say with truth, Madam, that I out some mixture of that delicious passion, never met with a person in my life whom I whose most devoted slave I have more than more anxiously wished to meet again than
once had the honour of being.-- But why yourself. Tonight I was to have had that be hurt or offended on that account? Can very great pleasure; I was intoxicated with
vo honest man have a prepossession for a the idea, but an unlucky fall from a coach
fine woman, but he must run his head lias so bruised one of my knees that I can't against an intrigue ? Take a little of the stir my leg; so if I don't see you again, I tender witchcraft of love, and add it to the shall not rest in my grave for chagrin.' I generous, the honourable sentiments of was vexed to the soul I had not seen you manly friendship: and I know but one more sooner; I determined to cultivate your
delightful morsel, which few, few in any
rank ever taste. friendship with the enthusiasm of religion ;
Such a composition is like but thus has Fortune ever served me. I
adding cream to strawberries; it not only cannot bear the idea of leaving Edinburgh gives the fruit a more elegant richness, without seeing you. I know not how to
but has a peculiar deliciousness of its account for it-I am strangely taken with some people, nor am I often mistaken. You
I enclose you a few lines I composed on are a stranger to me;
but I am an odd
a late melancholy occasion. I will not give being; some yet unnamed feelings, things, above fire or six copies of it at all, and I
would be hurt if any friend should give any not principles, but better than whims, carry me farther than boasted reason ever did à copies without my consent. philosopher.-Farewell! every happiness be
You cannot imagine, Clarinda (I like the
idea of Arcadian names in a commerce of yours !
this kind), how much store I have set by the hopes of your future friendship. I do not know if you have a just idea of my character, but I wish you to see me as I am. I.
am, as most people of my trade are, a strange TO THE SAME.
will-o'-wisp being; the victim, too freFriday Evening, Dec. 22nd, 1787.
quently, of much imprudence and many
follies. Jy great constituent elements are I BEG your pardon, my dear “Clarinda,” pride and passion.
pride and passion. The first I have enfor the fragment scrawl I sent you yester- deavoured to humanize into integrity and day. (58) I really do not know what I honour; the last makes me a devotee to the
A gentleman, for whose character, warmest degree of enthusiasm, in love abilities, and critical knowledge, I have the religion, or friendship-either of them, or highest veneration, called in just as I had all together, as I happen to be inspired. begun the second sentence, and I would not 'Tis true, I never saw you but once ; but make the porter wait. I read to
I read to my much how much acquaintance did I form with you respected friend some of my own bayatelles, in that once! Do not think I flatter you, and, among others, your lines, which I had
or have a design upon you, Clarinda; I have copied out. He began some criticisms on too much pride for the one, and too little them as on the other pieces, when I informed cold contrivance for the other; but of all him they were the work of a young lady in God's creatures I ever could approach in the this town, which, I assure you, made him beaten way of my acquaintance, you struck
My learned friend seriously pro- | me with the deepest, the strongest, the tested that he did not believe any young most permanent impression. I say, the woman in Edinburgh was capable of such most permanent, because I know myself lines : and if you know anything of Pro- well, and how far I can promise either in fessor Gregory, you will neither doubt of my prepossessions or powers. Why are his abilities nor his sincerity. I do love you, you whappy? And why are so many of if possible, still better for having so fine a our fellow-creatures, unworthy to belony, to taste and turn for poesy. I have again gone the same species with you, blest with all wrong in my usual unguarded way, but you they can wish ? You have a hand allmay erase the word, and put esteem, respect, berevolent to give; why are you denied or any other tame Dutch expression you the pleasure? You have a heart formed