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every look the height of their elevation, but con. descend as sweetly as did Mrs. Stewart of Stair*.
İn the name of the Nine, Amcr.
We, Robert Burns, by virtue of a Warrant from Nature, bearing date the Twenty-fifth day of January, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and fifty-ninet, Poet-Laureat and Bard in Chief, in and over the Districts and Countries of Kyle, Cunninghain, and Carrick of old extent, To our trusty and well-beloved William Chalmers and John M'Adam, Students and Practitioners in the ancient and mysterious Science of Confounding Right and Wrong.
Be it known unto you, that whereas, in the course of our care and watchings over the Order and Police of all and sundry the Manufacturers, Retainers, and Venders of Poesy; Bards, Poets, Poetasters, Rhymers, Jinglers, Songsters, Balladsingers, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. male and femaleWe have discovered a certain *
*, nefarious, abominable, and wicked Song or Ballad, a copy whereof We have here inclosed ; Our Will therefore is, that re pitch upon and appoint the most execrable individual of that most execrable Species, known by the appellation, phrase, and rickname of The Deil's Yell Nowtet: and after having caused him to kindle a fire at the Cross of Ayr, ye
* The song inclosed, is that given in the life of our poet; beginning,
'Twas e’en-the dewy fields were green, &c.
E. + His birth-day.
sball, at noontide of the day, put into the said wretch's merciless hands the said copy of the said nefarious and wicked Song, to be consumed by fire in the presence of all Beholders, in abhorrence of, and terrorem to, all such Compositions and composers. And this in nowise ye leave undone, but have it executed in every point as this Our Mandate bears, before the twenty-fourth current, when in person We hope to applaud your faithfulness and zeal,
Given at Mauchline, this twentieth day of November, Anno D one thousand seven hundr and eighty-six*.
God save the Bard.
To the REVEREND Mr. G. LAWRIE.
Reverend and dear sir,
nly as a testimony of your kind remembrance, but as it gave me an opportunity of sharing one of the finest, and, perhaps, one of the most genuine entertainments, of which the human mind is susceptible. A number of avocations retarded my progress in reading the poems; at last, however, I have finished that pleasing perusal. Many instances have I seen of nature's force and beneficence, exerted under numerous and formidable disadvantages; but none equal to that, with which you have been kind enough to present me. There is a pathos and delicacy in his serious poems; a vein of wit and humour in those of a more festive turn, which cannot be too much admired, nor too
* Inclosed was the ballad, probably Holy Willie's prayer.
warmly approved ; and I think I shall never open the book without feeling my astonishment renewed and increased. It was my wish to have expressed my approbation in verse; but whether from declining life, or a temporary depression of spirits, it is at present out of my power to accomplish that agreeable intention.
Mr. Stewart, professor of morals in this university, had formerly read me three of the
and I had desired him to get my name inserted among the subscribers : but whether this was done or not I never could learn. I have little intercourse with Dr. Blair, but will take care to have the poems communicated to him by the intervention of some mutual friend. " It has been told me by a gentleman, to whom I shewed the performances, and who sought a copy with diligence and ardour, that the whole impression is already exhausted. It were therefore much to be wished, for the sake of the young man, that a second edition, more numerous than the former, could immediately be printed; as it appears certain that its intrinsic merit, and the exertion of the author's friends, might give it a more universal cireulation than any thing of the kind, which has been published within my me. mory..
The reader will perceive that this is the letter which produced the determination of our bard to give up his scheme of going to the West-Indies, and to try the fate of a new edition of his poems in Edinburgh. A copy of this letter was sent by Mr. Lawrie to Mr. G. Hamilton, and by him communicated to Burns, among whose papers it was found. E.
From the REVEREND Mr. LAWRIE.
220 December, 1786. I last week received a letter from Dr. Black lock, in which he expresses a desire of seeing you. I write this to you, that you may lose no time in waiting upon him, should you not yet have seen him.
I rejoice to hear, from all corners, of your riso ing fame, and I wish and expect it may tower still higher by the new publication. But, as a friend, I warn you to prepare to meet with your share of detraction and envy-a train, that always accompany great men. For your comfort I am in great hopes that the number of your friends and admir. ers will increase, and that you have some chance «f ministerial, or even * * * *
patronage. Now, my friend, such rapid success is very uncommon, and do you think yourself in no danger of suffering by applause and a full purse ? Remember So. lomon's advice, which he spoke from experience,
stronger is he that conquers," &c. Keep fast hold of your rural simplicity and purity, like Te. lemachus, by Mentor's aid, in Calypso's isle, or even in that of Cyprus. I hope you have also Minerva with you. I need not tell you how much a modest diffidence and invincible temperance adorn the most shining talents, and elevate the mind, and exalt and refine the imagination even of a poet.
I hope you will not imagine I speak from suspicion or evil report. I assure you I speak from love and good report, and good opinion, and a strong desire to see you shine as much in the sunshine as you have done in the shade ; and in the practice as you do in the theory of virtue. This is my prayer in return for your elegant composi..
tion in verse. All here join in compliments and good wishes for your further prosperity.
To Mr. CHALMERS.
Edinburgh, 27th December, 1786. My dear friend,
I confess I have sinned the sin for which there is hardly any forgiveness, ingratitude to friendship, in not writing you sooner; but of all men living. I had intended to send you an entertaining letter, and by all the plodding, stupid powers,
that in nodding, conceited majesty preside over the dull routine of business-a heavily-solemn oath this !-I am, and have been, ever since I came to Edinburgh, as unfit to write a letter of humour as to write a commentary on the Revelations.
To make you some amends for what, before you reach this paragraph, you will have suffered, I inclose you two poems I have carded and spun since I past Glenbuck. One blank in the address to Edinburgh, “ Fair B-" is the heavenly Miss Burnet, daughter to lord Monboddo, at whose house I have had the honour to be more than once.
There has not been any thing nearly like her, in all the combinations of beauty, grace, and goodness, the great Creator has formed, since Milton's Eve on the first day of her existence.
I have sent you a parcel of subscription-bills, and have written to Mr. Ballantine and Mr. Aiken to call on you for some of them, if they want them. My direction is, care of Andrew Bruce, merchant, Bridge-street.