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I had written you on that subject; but, one of these days, I shall trouble you with a commission for “The Monkland Friendly Society”— a copy of The Spectator, Mirror, and Lounger; Man of Feeling, Man of the World, Guthrie's Geographical Grammar, with some religious pieces, will likely be our first order.

When I grow richer, I will write to you on gilt post, to make amends for this sheet. At present, every guinea has a five guinea errand with,

My dear Sir,

Your faithful, poor, but honest friend

R. B.

No. 71.


Eilisland, 4th. April, 1789.

I NO sooner hit on any poetic plan or fancy, but I wish to send it to you; and if knowing and reading these give half the pleasure to you, that communiacting them to you gives to me, I am satisfied.

I have a poetic whim in my head, which I at present dedicate, or rather inscribe, to the Right Hon. C. J. Fox; but how long that fancy may

hold, I cannot say. A few of the first lines I have just rough-sketched as follows:

"How wisdom and folly meet, mix, and unite," &c.—

See Poems, p. 269.

On the 20th. current I hope to have the honour of assuring you, in person, how sincerely

I am,

No. 72.


Ellisland, 4th. May, 1789.


YOUR duty free favour of the 26th. April I received two days ago; I will not say I perused it with pleasure; that is the cold compliment of ceremony; I perused it, Sir, with delicious satisfaction-In short it is such a letter, that not you, nor your friend, but the legislature, by express proviso in their postage laws, should frank. A letter informed with the soul of friendship is such an honour to human nature, that they should order it free ingress and egress to and from their bags, and mails, as an

encouragement and mark of distinction to supereminent virtue.

I have just put the last hand to a little poem which I think will be something to your taste.

One morning lately, as I was out pretty early in the fields sowing some grass seeds, I heard the burst of a shot from a neighbouring plantation, and presently a poor little wounded hare came crippling by me. You will guess my indignation at the inhuman fellow who could shoot a hare at this season, when they all of them have young ones. Indeed there is something in that business of destroying for our sport individuals in the animal creation that do not injure us materially, which I could never reconcile to my ideas of virtue.

"Inhuman man! curse on thy barb'rous art," &c.— See Poems, p. 154. Let me know how you like my poem. I am doubtful whether it would not be an improvement to keep out the last stanza but one altogether.

C is a glorious production of the author of man. You, he, and the noble Colonel of the CF are to me

"Dear as the ruddy drops which warm the breast." I have a good mind to make verses on you all, to the tune of Three gude fellowes ayont the glen."


No. 73%



4th. June, 1789.

THOUGH I am not without my fears respecting my fate, at that grand, universal inquest of right and wrong, commonly called The Last Day, yet I trust there is one sin, which that arch-vagabond, Satan, who I understand is to be king's evidence, cannot throw in my teeth, I mean ingratitude. There is a certain pretty large quantum of kindness for which I remain, and from inability, I fear must still remain, your debtor; but though unable to repay the debt, 1 assure you, sir, I shall ever warmly remember the obligation. It give me the sincerest pleasure to hear, by my old acquaintance, Mr. Kennedy, that you are, in immortal Allan's language," Hale and weel, and living;" and that your charming family are well, and promising to be an amiable and respectful addition to the company of performers, whom the Great Manager of the Drama of Man is bringing into action for the succeeding age.

With respect to my welfare, a subject in whics you once warmly and effectively interested yourself, I am here in my old way, holding my plough,

marking the growth of my corn, or the health of my dairy; and at times sauntering by the delightful windings of the Nith, on the margin of which I have built my humble domicile, praying for seasonable weather, or holding an intrigue with the Muses; the only gipseys with whom I have now any intercourse. As I am entered into the holy state of matrimony, I trust my face is turned completely Zion-ward; and as it is a rule with all honest fellows, to repeat no grievances, I hope that the little poetic licences of former days, will of course fall under the oblivious influence of some good-natured statute of celestial proscription. In my family devotion, which like a good presbyterian, I occasionally give to my household folks, I am extremely fond of the psalm,. "Let not the errors of my youth, &c." and that other, "Lo, children are God's heritage, &c." in which last Mrs. Burns, who by the bye, has a glorious "wood-note wild" at either old song or psalmody, joins me with the pathos of Handel's Messiah.

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