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vented me, the moment I received your ladyship's elegant present by Mrs. Miller, from returning you my warmest and most grateful acknowledgments. I assure your ladyship, I shall set it apart: the symbols of religion shall only be more sacred. In the moment of poetic composition, the box shall be my inspiring genius. When I would breathe the comprehensive wish of benevolence for the happiness of others, I shall recollect your ladyship; when I would interest my fancy in the distresses incident to humanity, I shall remember the anfortunate Mary.
To Mrs. GRAHAM, of FINTRY.
Whether it is that the story of our Mary, queen of Scots, has a pecufar effect on the feelings of a poet, or whether I have, in the inclosed ballad, sue. ceeded beyond my usual poetic success, I know not; but it has pleased me beyond any effort of my muse for a good while past; on that account I inclose it particularly to you. It is true, the purity of my motives may be suspected. I am already deeply indebted to Mr. G-'s good ness; and what, in the usual ways of men, is of infinitely greater importance, Mr. G, can do me service of the utmost importance in time to come. I was born a poor dog; and, however I may occasionally pick a better bone than I used to do, I know I must live and die poor : but I will indulge the flattering faith that my poetry will considerably outlive my poverty; and without any fustian affectation of spirit, I can promise and affirm, that it must be no ordinary craving of the latter shall ever make me do any thing injurious to the honest fame of the former. Whatever may be my failrings, for failings are a part of human nature, may they ever be those of a generous heart, and an independent mind! It is no fault of mine that I was born to dependence ; nor is it Mr. G's chiefest praise that he can command influence; but it is his merit to bestow, not only with the kindness of a brother, but with the politeness of a gentleman; and I trust it shall be mine, to receive with thankfulness and remember with undi minished gratitude.
From the REVEREND G. BAIRD.
London, 8th February, 1791. I trouble you with this letter to inform you
that I am in hopes of being able very soon to bring to the press a new edition (long since talked of) of Michael Bruce's Poems. The profits of the edi. tion are to go to his mother-a woman of eighty years of age-poor and helpless. The poems are to be published by subscription; and it may be possible, I think, to make out a 2s. 6d. or 3s. Volume, with the assistance of a few hitherto unpublished verses, which I have got from the mother
of the poet.
But the design I have in view in writing to you, is not merely to inform you of these facts, it is to solicit the aid of your name and pen in support of the scheme. The reputation of Bruce is already high with every reader of classical taste, and I shall be anxious to guard against tarnishing his character, by allowing any new poems to appear that may lower it. For this purpose, the MSS. I am in possession of, have been submitted to the revision of some, whose critical talents I can trust to, and I mean still to submit them to others.
May I beg to know, therefore, if you will take the trouble of perusing the M$S.-of giving your
opinion, and suggesting what curtailments, alterat tions, or amendments, occur to you as advisable? And will you allow us to let it be known, that a few lines by you will be added to the volume?
I know the extent of this request. It is bold to make it. But I have this consolation, that though you see it proper to refuse it, you will not blame me for having made it; you will see my apology in the motive.
May I just add, that Michael Bruce is one, in whose company, from his past appearance, you would not, I am convinced, blush to be found; and as I would submit every line of his that shouid now be published, to your own criticisms, you would be assured that nothing derogatory either to him or you, would be admitted in that appearance he may make in future.
You have already paid an honourable tribute to kindred genius, in Fergusson-I fondly hope that the mother of Bruce will experience your patropage.
I wish to have the subscription papers circulated by the 14th of March, Bruce's birth-day; which I understand some friends in Scotland talk this year of observing-at that time it will be resolved, I imagine, to place a plain, humble stone over his grave. This at least I trust you will agree to do -to furnish, in a few couplets, an inscription for it.
On these points may I solicit an answer as ear. ly as possible; a short delay might disappoint us in procuring that relief to the mother, which is the object of the whole.
You will be pleased to address for me under cover to the duke of Athole, London.
P. S. Have you ever seen an engraving published here some time ago from one of your poems, “O thou pale orb ?” If you
I have the pleasure of sending it to you.
To the REVEREND G. BAIRD,
In answer to the foregoing.
Why did you, my dear sir, write to me in such a hesitating style, on the business of poor Bruce ? Don't I know, and have I not felt, the many ills, the peculiar ills that poetic flesh is heir to? You shall have your choice of all the unpublished poems I have; and had your letter had my direction
; so as to have reached me sooner (it only came to. my hand this moment), I should have directly put you out of suspense on the subject. I only ask, that some prefatory advertisement in the book, as well as in the subscription bills, may bear, that. the publication is solely for the benefit of Bruce's mother. I would not put it in the power of ignorance to surmise, or malice to insinuate, that I clubbed a share in the work from mercenary motives. Nor need you give me credit for any remarkable generosity in my part of the business. I have such a host of peccadilloes, failings, follies, and backslidings (any body but myself might, perhaps, give some of them a worse appellation) that by way of some balance, however trifling, in the account, I am fain to do any good that occurs in my very limited power to a fellow creature, just for the selfish purpose of clearing a little the visLa of retrospection.
To Dr. MOORE.
Ellisland, 28th February, 1791, I do not know, sir, whether you are a subscriber to Grose's Antiquities of Scotland. If you are, the inclosed poem will not be altogether new to you. Captain Grose did me the favour to send me a dozen copies of the proof-sheet, of which this is one. Should you have read the piece before, still this will answer the principal end I have in view : it will give me another opportunity of thanking you for all your goodness to the rustie bard; and also of shewing you, that the abilities you have been pleased to commend and patronize are still employed in the way you wish.
The Elegy on captain Henderson, is a tribute to the memory of a man I loved much. Poets have in this the same advantage as Roman catholics; they can be of service to their friends after they have past that bourne where all other kindness ceases to be of any avail. Whether, after all, either the one or the other be of any real service to the dead, is, I fear, very problematical ; but I am sure they are highly gratifying to the living: and as a very orthodox text, I forgot where in seripture, says, “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin ;” so say I, whatsoever is not detrimental to society, and is of positive enjoyment, is of God, the giver of all good things, and ought to be received and enjoyed by his creatures with thankful delight. As almost all my religious tenets originate from my heart, I am wonderfully pleased with the idea, that I can still keep up a tender intercourse with the dearly beloved friend, or still more dearly beloved mistress, who is gone to the world of spirits.
The ballad on queen Mary was begun while I was busy with Percy's Reliques of English Poetry. By the way, how much is every honest heart, which has a tincture of Caledonian prejudice, oly