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part to you when I have the pleasure of meeting with you; which, if you are then in Edinburgh, I shall have about the beginning of March.
That acquaintance, worthy Sir, with which you were pleased to honour me, you must still allow me to challenge; for with whatever unconcern I give up my transient connexion with the merely Great, I cannot lose the patronizing notice of the learned and the good, without the bitterest regret.
To MRS. DUNLOP.
Ellisland, 4th. March, 1789.
HERE am I, my honoured friend, returned safe from the capital. To a man, who has a home, however humble or remote-if that home is like mine, the scene of domestic comfort -the bustle of Edinburgh will soon be a business of sickening disgust.
"Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate you!"
When I must skulk into a corner, lest the rattling equipage of some gaping blockhead should mangle me in the mire, I am tempted to exclaim-" What merits has he had, or what "demerit have I had, in some state of pre-ex
«istence, that he is ushered into this state of
being with the sceptre of rule, and the key of
riches, in his puny fist, and I am kicked into "the world, the sport of folly, or the victim of pride?" I have read somewhere of a monarch, (in Spain I think it was) who was so out of humour with the Ptolomean system of astronomy, that he said, had he been of the CREATOR'S council, he could have saved him a great deal of labour and absurdity. I will not defend this blasphemous speech; but often, as I have glided with humble stealth through the pomp of Princes' street, it has suggested itself to me, as an improvement on the present human figure, that a man, in proportion to his own conceit of his consequence in the world, could have pushed out the longitude of his common size, as a snail pushes out his horns, or as we draw out a perspective. This trifling alteration, not to mention the prodigious saving it would be in the tear and wear of the neck and limb-sinews of many of his majesty's liege subjects, in the way of tossing the head and tiptoe strutting,, would evidently turn out a vast advantage, in enabling us at once to adjust the ceremonials in making a bow, or making way to a great man, and that too within a second of the precise spherical angle of reverence, or an inch of the particular point of respectful distance, which the important creature itself requires; as a measur
ing-glanee at its towering altitude would determine the affair like instinct.
You are right, madam, in your idea of poor Mylne's poem, which he has addressed to me. The piece has a good deal of merit, but it has one great fault-it is, by far, too long. Besides my success has encouraged such a shoal of illspawned monsters to crawl into public notice, under the title of Scottish Poets, that the very term Scottish Poetry borders on the burlesque. When I write to Mr. C******, I shall advise him rather to try one of his deceased friend's English pieces. I am prodigiously hurried with my own matters, else I would have requested a perusal of all Mylne's poetic performances; and would have offered his friends my assistance in either selecting or correcting what would be proper for the press. What it is that occupies me so much, and perhaps a little oppresses my present spirits, shall fill up a paragraph in some future letter. In the mean time allow me to close this epistle with a few lines done by a friend of mine I give you them, that, as you have seen the ori ginal, you may guess whether one or two alter ations I have. ventured to make in them, be any real improvement,
Like the fair plant that from our touch withdraws,
Be all a mother's fondest hope can dream,
Your form shall be the image of your mind;
TO THE REV. P. CARFRAE.
I DO not recollect that I have ever felt
a severer pang of shame, than on looking at the date of your obliging letter, which accompanied Mr. Mylne's poem.
I am much to blame: the honour Mr. Mylne has done me, greatly enchanced in its value by the endearing, though melancholy circumstance, of its being the last production of his muse, deserved a better return.
I have, as you hint, thought of sending a copy of the poem to some periodical publica
These beautiful lines, it is believed, are the production of the lady to whom this letter is addressed.
tion; but, on second thoughts, I am afraid that, in the present case, it would be an improper step. My success, perhaps as much accidental as merited, has brought an inundation of nonsense under the name of Scottish poetry. Subscription-bills for Scottish poems, have so dunned, and daily do dun the public, that the very name is in danger of contempt. For these reasons, if publishing any of Mr. M.'s poems in a magazine, &c. be at all prudent, in my opinion it certainly should not be a Scottish poem. The profits of the labours of a man of genius, are, I hope, as honourable as any profits whatever; and Mr. Mylne's relations are most justly entitled to that honest harvest, which fate has denied himself to reap. But let the friends of Mr. Mylne's fame (among whom I crave the honour of ranking myself,) always keep in eye his respectability as a man and as a Poet, and take no measure that, before the world knows any thing about him, would risk his name and character being classed with the fools of the times.
I have, Sir, some experience of publishing; and the way in which I would proceed with Mr. Mylne's poems, is this:-I would publish, in two or three English and Scottish public papers, any one of his English poems which should, by private judges, be thought the most excellent, and mention it, at the same time, as one of the productions of a Lothian farmer, of respect