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magistraey and council,
but particularly you have much to say with a reverend gentleman, to whom you have the honour of being very nearly related, and whom this country and age have had the honour to produce. I need not name the historian of Charles V.* I tell him through the me dium of his nephew's influence, that Mr. Clarke is a gentleman who will not disgrace even his patronage. I know the merits of the cause thoroughly, and say it that my friend is falling a sacrifice to prejudiced ignorance, and ***** **. God help the children of dependence! Hated and persecuted by their enemies, and too often, alas ! al. most unexceptionably received by their friends with disrespect and reproach, under the thin disguise of cold civility and humiliating advice. O to be a sturdy savage, stalking in the pride of his independende, amid the solitary wilds of his desarts, rather than in civilized life, helplessly to tremble for a subsistence, precarious as the caprice of a fellow-creature! Every man has his virtues, and no man is without his failings ; and curse on that privileged plain dealing of friendship, which, in the hour of my calamity, cannot reach forth the helping hand, without at the same time pointing out those failings, and apportioning them their share in procuring my present distress. My friends, for such the world calls ye, and such ye think yourselves to be, pass by my virtues if you please, but do, also, spare my follies : the first will witness in my breast for themselves, and the last will give pain enough to the ingenuous mind without you. And, since deviating more or less from the paths of propriety and rectitude, must be incident to human nature, do thou, fortune, put it in my power, always from myself, and of myself, to bear the consequences of those errors. I do not want to be independent that I may sin, but I want to be independent in my sinning.
* Dr. Robertson was uncle to Mr. Cunningham.
To return in this rambling letter to the subject I set out with, let me recommend my friend, Mr. Clarke, to your acquaintance and good offices ; his worth entitles him to the one, and his gratitude will merit the other. I long much to hear from you. Adieu !
From THE EARL of BUCHAN.
Dryburgh Abbey, 17th June, 1701. Lord Buchan has the pleasure to invite Mr. Burns to make one at the coronation of the bust of Thomson, on Ednam Hill, on the 22d of September; for which day perhaps his muse may inspire an ode suited to the occasion. Suppose Mr. Burns should, leaving the Nith, go across the country, and meet the Tweed at the nearest point from his farm-and, wandering along the pastoral banks of Thomson's pure parent stream, catch inspiration on the devious walk, till he finds lord Buchan sitting on the ruins of Dryburgh. There the commendator will give him a hearty welcome, and try to light his lamp at the pure flanne of native genius, upon the altar of Caledonian virtue. This poetical perambulation of the Tweed, is a thought of the late sir Gilbert Elliot's, and of lord Minto's, followed out by his accomplished grandson, the present sir Gilbert, who having been with lord Buchan lately, the project was renewed, and will, they hope, be executed in the manner proposedo
TO THE EARL of BUCHAN.
Language sinks under the ardour of my feelings when I would thank your lordship for the honour you have done me in inviting me to make one at the coronation of the bust of Thomson. In my first enthusiasm in reading the card you did me the honour to write me, I overlooked every obstacle, and determined to go; but I fear it will not be in my power. A week or two's absence, in the very middle of my harvest, is what I much doubt I dare not venture on.
Your lordship hints at an ode for the occasion : but who would write after Collins? I read over his verses to the memory of Thomson, and des paired. I got indeed to the length of three or four stanzas, in the way of address to the shade of the bard, on crowning his bust. I shall trouble your lordship with the subjoined copy of them, which, I am afraid, will be but too convincing a proof, how unequal I am to the task. However, it affords me an opportunity of approaching your lordship, and declaring how sincerely and gratePully I have the honour to be, &c.
From THE SAME.
Dryburgh Abbey, 16th Sept. 1797. Your address to the shade of Thomson has been well received by the public; and though I should disapprove of your allowing Pegasus to ride with you off the field of your honourable and useful
profession, yet I cannot resist an impulse which I feel at this moment, to suggest to your muse Har. vest Home, as an excellent subject for her grateful song, in which the peculiar aspect and manners of our country, might furnish an excellent portrait and landscape of Scotland, for the employment of happy moments of leisure and recess, from your more important occupations.
Your Halloween, and Saturday Night, will re. main to distant posterity as interesting pictures of rural innocence and happiness in your native country, and were happily written in the dialect of the people; but Harvest Home being suited to descriptive poetry, except where colloquial, may escape the disguise of a dialect which admits of no elegance or dignity of expression. Without the assistance of any god or goddess, and without the invocation of any foreign muse, you may convey, in epistolary form, the description of a scene so gladdening and picturesque, with all the concomitant local position, landscape, and costume, contrasting the peace, improvement, and happiness of the borders of the once hostile nations of Britain, with their former oppression and misery, and showing, in lively and beautiful colours, the beau. ties and joys of a rural life. And as the unvitiated heart is naturally disposed to overflow in gratitude in the moment of prosperity, such a subject would furnish you with an amiable opportunity of perpetuating the names of Glencairn, Miller, and your other eminent benefactors; which, from what I know of your spirit, and have seen of your poems and letters, will not deviate from the chastity of praise, that is so uniformly united to true taste and genius.
I am, sir, &c.
To LADY E. CUNNINGHAM.
I would, as usual, have availed myself of the privilege your goodness has allowed me, of sending you any thing I compose in my poetical way; but as I had resolved, so soon as the shock of my irreparable loss would allow me, to pay a tribute to my late benefactor, I determined to make that the first piece I should do myself the honour of sending you. Had the wing of my fancy been equal to the ardour of my heart, the inclosed had been much more worthy your perusal: as it is, I beg leave to lay it at your ladyship's feet. As all the world knows my obligations to the late earl of Glencairn, I would wish to shew as openly that my heart glows, and shall ever glow, with the most grateful sense and remembrance of his lordship's goodness. The sables I did myself the honour to wear to his lordship's memory, were
not the * mockery of woe.” Nor shall my gratitude perish with me!-If, among my children, I shall have a son that has a heart, he shall hand it down to his child as a family honour, and a family debt, that my dearest existence I owe to the noble house of Glencairn!
I was about to say, my lady, that if you think the poem may venture to see the light, I would, in some way or other, give it to the world".
* The poem enclosed, is The Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn. See vol. iii,