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No. LXX.

To Mr. HILL.

Ellisland, 2d April, 1789. I will make no-excuse, my dear Bibliopolus (God forgive me for murdering language !), that I have sat down to write you on this vile paper.

It is economy, sir ; it is that cardinal virtue, pru. dence; so I beg you will sit down, and either compose or borrow a panegyric. If you are going to borrow, apply to

to compose, or rather to compound, something very clever on my remarkable frugality; that I write to one of my most esteemed friends on this wretched paper, which was originally intended for the venal fist of some drunken exciseman, to take dirty notes in a miserable vault of an ale-cellar.

O Frugality! thou mother of ten thousand blessings-thou cook of fat beef and dainty greens ! thou manufacturer of warm Shetland hose, and comfortable surtouts !-thou old housewife, darning thy decayed stockings with thy ancient spectacles on thy aged nose !-lead me, hand me in thy clutching palsied fist, up those heights, and through those thickets, hitherto inaccessible, and impervious to my anxious, weary feet :--not those Parnassian craggs, bleak and barren, where the hungry worshippers of fame are, breathless, clambering, hanging between heaven and hell; but those glittering cliffs of Potosi, where the all-sufficient, allpowerful deity, Wealth, holds his immediate court of joys and pleasures ; where the sunny exposure of plenty, and the hot walls of profusion, produce those blissful fruits of luxury, exotics in this world, and natives of paradise ! Thou withered sybil, my sage conductress, usher me into the refulgent, adored presence !-The power, splendid and potent as he now is, was once the puling nursling of thy faithful care, and tender arms ! Call me thy son, thy cousin, thy kinsman, or favourite, and adjure the god, by the scenes of his infant years, no longer to repulse me as a stranger, or an alien, but to favour me with his peculiar countenance and protection ! He daily bestows his greatest kindness on the undeserving and the worthless-assure him, that I bring ample documents of meritorious demerits! Pledge yourself for me that, for the glorious cause of Lucre, I will do any thing, be any thing-but the horse-leech of private oppression, or the vulture of public robbery !

But to descend from heroics,

I want a Shakspeare; I want likewise an English dictionary-Johnson's, I suppose, is best. In these and all my prose commissions, the cheapest is always the best for me. There is a small debt of honour that I owe Mr. Robert Cleghorn, in Saughton Mills, my worthy friend, and your well-wisher. Please give him, and urge him to take it, the first time you see him, ten shillings worth of any thing you have to sell, and place it to my account.

The library scheme that I mentioned to you, is already begun, under the direction of captain Kiddel. There is another in emulation of it going on at Closeburn, under the auspices of Mr. Monteith, of Closeburn, which will be on a greater scale than ours. Capt. R. gave his infant society a great many of his old books, else I had written you on that subject; but, one of these days, I shall trouble you with a commission for “ The Mopkland Friendly Society"--a copy of The Spectator, Mirror, and Lounger ; Man of Feeling, Man of the World, Guthrie's Geographical Gram. mar, with some religious pieces, will likely be our rst order,

When I grow richer, I will write to you on gilt post, to make amends for this sheet.

At present, every guinea has a five guinea errand with,

My dear sir,
Your faithful, poor, but honest friend,

R. B.

No. LXXI.

To Mrs. DUNLOP.

Ellisland, 4th April, 1789.

I no sooner hit on any poetie plan or fancy, but I wish to send it to you; and if knowing and reading these give half the pleasure to you, that communicating them to you gives to me, I am satis

fied.

I have a poetic whim in my head, which I at present dedicate, or rather inscribe, to the right honourable C. J. Fox; but how long that fancy may hold, I cannot say. A few of the first lines I have just rough-sketched as follows:

SKETCH.

How wisdom and folly meet, mix, and unite ;
How virtue and vice blend their black and their

white; How genius, the illustrious father of fiction, Confounds rule and law, reconciles contradiction

I sing : if these mortals, the critics, should bustle, I care not, not I, let the critics go whistle.

But now for a patron, whose name and whose glory At once may illustrate and honour my story.

Thou first of our orators, first of our wits; Yet whose parts and acquirements seem mere lucky

hits ;

With knowledge so vast, and with judgment so

strong, No man with the half of 'em e'er went far wrong; With passions so potent, and fancies so bright, No man with the half of 'em e'er went quite right ; A sorry, poor misbegot son of the muses, For using thy name offers fifty excuses.

Good L-d, what is man! for as simple he looks, Do but try to develop his hooks and his crooks; With his depths and his shallows, his good and his

evil, All in all he's a problem must puzzle the devil.

On his one ruling passion, sir Pope hugely la

bours, That, like th’ old Hebrew-walking switch, eats up

its neighbours : Mankind are his show-box-a friend, would you

know him? Pull the string, ruling passion the picture will

shew him. What pity, in rearing so beauteoas a system, One trifling particular, truth, should have missed

him ; For, spite of his fine theoretic positions, Mankind is a science defies definitions.

Some sort all our qualities each to its tribe, And think human nature they truly describe ; Have you found this, or t'other? there's more in

the wind, As by one drunkeu fellow his comrades you'll find.

But such is the flaw, or the depth of the plan,
In the make of that wonderful creature, callid

Man,

No two virtues, whatever relation they claim,
Nor even two different shades of the same,
Though like as was ever twin brother to brother,
Possessing the one shall imply you've the other.

On the 20th current I hope to have the honour of assuring you,

in

person, how sincerely I am.

No, LXXII.

To Mr. CUNNINGHAM.

Ellisland, 4th May, 1789. My dear sir,

Your duty free favour, of the 26th April, I received two days ago. I will not say I perused it with pleasure ; that is the cold compliment of cewemony ; I perused it, sir, with delicious satisfaction-in short, it is such a letter, that not you, nor your friend, but the legislature by express proviso in their postage laws should frank. A letter informed with the soul of friendship is such an honour to human nature, that they should order it free ingress and egress to and from their bags and mails, as an encouragement and mark of distinction to super-eminent virtue.

I have just put the last hand to a little poem which I think will be something to your taste, One morning, lately, as I was out pretty early in the fields sowing some grass seeds, I heard the burst of a shot from a neighbouring plantation, and presently a poor little wounded hare came crippling by me. You will guess my indignation at

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