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Against the day of battle and of war"

spoken of religion.

""Tis this, my friend, that streaks our morning bright,
""Tis this that gilds the horror of our night,

"When wealth forsakes us, and when friends are few;
"When friends are faithless, or when foes pursue;
'Tis this that wards the blow, or stills the smart,
"Disarms affliction, or repels his dart;

"Within the breast bids purest raptures rise,
"Bids smiling conscience spread her cloudless skies."

I have been very busy with Zeluco. The Doctor is so obliging as to request my opinion of it; and I have been revolving in my mind some kind of criticisms on novel-writing, but it is a I shall however depth beyond my research.

digest my thoughts on the subject as well as I can. Zeluco is a most sterling performance. Farewell! A Dieu, le bon Dieu, je vous commende!


No. 80.


9th. December, 1789.

I HAVE a good while had a wish to trouble you with a letter, and had certainly done it long ere now-but for a humiliating something that throws cold water on the resolu

tion; as if one should say, "You have found "Mr. Graham a very powerful and kind friend "indeed, and that interest he is so kindly taking “in your concerns, you ought by every thing " in your power to keep alive and cherish.". Now, though since God has thought proper to make one powerful and another helpless, the connexion of obliger and obliged is all fair; and though my being under your patronage is to me highly honourable, yet, Sir, allow me to flatter myself, that, as a Poet and an honest man, you first interested yourself in my welfare, and principally as such still, you permit me to approach you.

I have found the excise business go on a great deal smoother with me than I expected; owing a good deal to the generous friendship of Mr. Mitchel, my collector, and the kind assistance of Mr. Findlater, my supervisor. I dare to be honest, and I fear no labour. Nor do I find my hurried life greatly inimical to my correspondence with the Muses. Their visits to me, indeed, and I believe to most of their acquaintance, like the visits of good angels, are short and far between; but I meet them now and then as I jog through the hills of Nithsdale, just as I used to do on the banks of Ayr. I take the liberty to enclose you a few bagatelles, all of them the productions of my leisure thoughts in my excise rides.


you know or have ever seen Capt. Grose, the antiquarian, you will enter into my humour that is in the verses on him. Perhaps you have seen them before, as I sent them to a London newspaper. Though I dare say you have none of the solemn-league-and-covenant fire, which shone so conspicuous in Lord George Gordon, and the Kilmarnock weavers, yet I think you must have heard of Dr. M'Gill, one of the clergymen of Ayr, and his heretical book. God help him, poor man! Though he is one of the worthiest, as well as one of the ablest of the whole priesthood of the Kirk of Scotland, in every sense of that ambiguous term, yet the poor Doctor and his numerous family are in imminent danger of being thrown out to the mercy of the winter-winds. The inclosed ballad on that business is I confess too local, but I laughed myself at some conceits in it, though I am convinced in my conscience that there are a good many heavy stanzas in it too.

The election ballad, as you will see, alludes to the present canvass in our string of boroughs. I do not believe there will be such a hard run match in the whole general election.*

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This alludes to the contest for the borough of Dumfries, between the Duke of Queensberry's interest and that of Sir

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I am too little a man to have any political attachments; I am deeply indebted to, and have the warmest veneration for, individuals of both parties, but a man who has it in his power to be the father of a country, and who

is a character that one cannot speak

of with patience.

Sir J. J. does "what man can do," but yet

I doubt his fate.


No. 81.


Ellisland, 13th. December, 1789.

MANY thanks, dear Madam, for your sheet-full of rhymes. Though at present I am below the veriest prose, yet from you every thing pleases. I am groaning under the miseries of a diseased nervous system; a system the state of which is most conducive to our happiness-or the most productive of our misery. For now near three weeks I have been so ill with a nervous head-ache, that I have been obliged to give up for a time my excise-books, being scarce able to lift up my head, much less to ride once a week over ten muir parishes. What is Man! To-day, in the luxuriance of

health, exulting in the enjoyment of existence; in a few days, perhaps in a few hours, loaded with conscious painful being, counting the tardy pace of the lingering moments by the repercussions of anguish, and refusing or denied a comforter. Day follows night, and night comes after day, only to curse him with life which gives him no pleasure; and yet the awful, dark termination of that life, is a something at which he recoils.

"Tell us, ye dead; will none of you in pity "Disclose the secret

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"A little time will make us learn'd as you are."

Can it be possible, that when I resign this frail, feverish being, I shall still find myself in conscious existence! When the last gasp of agony has announced, that I am no more'to those that knew me, and the few who loved me; when the cold, stiffened, unconscious, ghastly corse is resigned into the earth, to be the prey of unsightly reptiles, and to become in time a trodden clod, shall I yet be warm in life, secing and seen, enjoying and enjoyed? Ye venerable sages, and holy flamens, is there probability in your conjectures, truth in your stories, of another world beyond death? or are they all alike, baseless visions and fabricated fables? If there is another life, it must be only for the just, the benevolent,

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