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PREFACE

TO THE GLASGOW EDITION.

THE foll wing letters were, with the exception of one only, written by Robert Burns before his marriage. They are printed verbatim from the originals, and where any of them are torn, which unfortunately is the case with two or three, the deficiencies are marked by asterisks.

The lady to whom they are addressed, seems to have encouraged a friendly correspondence with the poet, whose fascinating powers of mind inust necessarily have produced, on her part, esteem and admiration.

Yet, although he was forbidden to indulge in the more tender affections of the heart, it was natural to expect from the strong sensibility and de. licate feelings of the bard, that, in his correspondence with a young and amiable woman, love must be a principal theme.

We are happy, that, from the condescension of the proprietor, we are enabled to favour the public with an additional portion of the writings of our favourite poet; nor is this condescension the effect of vanity, as from the letters themselves this lady can never be discovered, although, like Swift's Vanessa, she is, under a fictitious name, ushered into immortality, by an author equally celebrated.

As these letters, on perusal, will be found to possess every mark of the strong and vigorous mind of Burns, they will in no degree diminish that celebrity he has so justly merited by his epistolary compositions. Should any person suspect that they are not the genuine produetions of the bard, he may have his doubts removed by applying to the publisher, in whose possession the originals are permitted to remain for one month after publication.

Glasgow, March 1st, 1802.

LETTERS

ADDRESSED TO

CLARINDA, &C.

LETTER I.

Saturday evening. I can say with truth, madam, that I never met with a person in my life whom I more anxiously wished to meet again than yourself. To-night I was to have had that very great pleasure. I was intoxicated with the idea. But an unlucky fall from a coach has so bruised one of my knees, that I can't stir my leg: so if I don't see you again, I shall not rest in my grave for chagrin. I was vexed to the soul I had not seen you sooner; I determined to cultivate your friendship with the enthusiasm of religion ; but thus has fortune ever serv. ed me. I cannot bear the idea of leaving Edinburgh withoui seeing you; I know not how to account for it; I am strangely taken with some people; nor am I often mistaken.

You are a stranger to me; but I am an odd being; some yet unnamed feelings, things not principles, but better than whims, carry me farther than boasted reason ever did a philosopher. Farewel! Every happiness be yours!

*****

M

LETTER II.

Thursday evening. adam,

I had set no small store by my tea-drinking tonight, and have not often been so disappointed. Saturday evening I shall embrace the opportunity with the greatest pleasure. I leave this town this day se’ennight, 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 welfare I shall ever be warmly interested.

Our worthy common friend, in her usual pleasant way, rallied me a good deal on my new acquaintance, and, in the humour of her ideas, I wrote some lines, which I enclose you, as I think they have a good deal of poetic merit; and miss -teils nie you are not only a critic, but a poetess. Fiction, you know, is the native region of poetry; and I hope you will pardon my vanity in sending you the bagatelle as a tolerable off-hand jeu-d'es. prit. I have several poetie trijles which I shall gladly leave with miss - or you, if they were worth house-room; as there are scaretly two people on earth by whom it would mortify me more to be forgotten, though at the distance of ninescore miles.

I am, madam, with the highest respect, your very humble servant.

*****

LETTER III.

Friday evening. I beg your pardon, my dear “ Clarinda,” for the fragment scrawl I sent you yesterday. I really do not know what I wrote, A gentleman, for whose character, abilities, and critical knowledge

I have the highest veneration, called in just as I had begun the second sentence, and I would not make the porter wait. I read to my much respected friend several of my own bagatelles, and, among others, your lines which I had copied out. He began some criticismis on them as on the other pieces, when I informed him they were the work of a young lady in this town; which I assure you made hinn stare. My learned friend seriously protested, that he did not believe any young woman in Edinburgh was capable of such lines; and if you know any thing of professor Gregory, you will neither doubt of his abilities nor his sincerity. I do love you, if possible, suill better for having so fine a taste and turn for poesy. I have again gone wrong in my usual unguarded way, but you may erase the word, and put esteem, respect, or any other tame Dutch expression you please in its place. I believe there is no holding converse, or carrying on correspondence, with an amiable woman, much less a gloriously amiable fine woman, without some mixture of that delicious passion, whose most devoted slave I have more than once had the honour of being: but why be hurt or of. fended on that account? Can no honest man have a prepossession for a fine woman, but he mist run his head against an intrigue? Take a little of the tender witcheraft of love, and add it to the generous, the honourable sentiments of manly friend. ship; and I know but one more delightful morsel, which füw, few in any rank ever taste.

Such a composition is like adding cream to strawberries; it not only gives the fruit a more elegant richness, but has a peculiar deliciousness of its own.

I inclose you a few lines I composed on a late melancholy occasion. I will not give above five or six copies of it at all, and I would be hurt if any friend should give any copies without my consant.

You cannot imagine, Clarinda (I like the idea of Arcadian names in a commerce of this kind) how much store I have set by tbe hopes of yoin

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