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and from its daring turrets bid defiance to the storms of fate. And is not this a "consummation devoutly to be wished?"
Thy spirit, Independence, let me share;
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
"Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky!" Are not these noble verses? They are the introduction of Smollet's Ode to Independence: If you have not seen the poem, I will send it to you. How wretched is the man that hangs on by the favours of the great. To shrink from every dignity of man, at the approach of a lordly piece of self-consequence, who amid all his tinsel glitter, and stately hauteur, is but a creature formed as thou art--and perhaps not so well formed as thou art-came into the world a puling infant as thou didst, and must go out of it, as all men must, a naked corse!
To MRS. DUNLOP.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is
good news from a far country."
Fate has long owed me a letter of good news
from you, in return for the many tidings of sor
row which I have received. In this instance I most cordially obey the apostle-" Rejoice with them that do rejoice"-for me, to sing for joy is no new thing; but to preach for joy, as I have done in the commencement of this epistle, is a pitch of extravagant rapture, to which I never rose before.
I read your letter-I literally jumped for joy -How could such a mercurial creature as a poet, lumpishly keep his seat on the receipt of the best news from his best friend. I seized my giltheaded Wangee rod, an instrument indispensably necessary in my left hand, in the moment of inspiration and rapture; and stride, stride—quick and quicker-out skipt I among the broomy banks of Nith, to muse over my joy by retail. To keep within the bounds of prose was impossible. Mrs. Little's is a more elegant, but not a more sincere compliment to the sweet little fellow, than I extempore almost poured out to him, in the following verses. See Poems, p. 246.—On the Birth of a Posthumous Child.
I am much flattered by your approbation of my Tam o' Shanter, which you express you express in your former letter; though, by the bye, you load me in that said letter with accusations heavy and many; to all which I plead, not guilty! Your book is, I hear, on the road to reach me. As to printing of poetry, when you prepare it for the
press, you have only to spell it right, and place
the capital letters properly: as to the punctuation, the printers do that themselves.
I have a copy of Tam o Shanter ready to send you by the first opportunity: it is too hea vy to send by post.
I heard of Mr. Corbet lately. He, in consequence of your recommendation, is most zealous Please favour me soon with an account of your good folks; if Mrs. H. is recovering, and the young gentleman doing well..
to serve me.
To MR. CUNNINGHAM.
Ellisland, 23d. January, 1791.
MANY happy returns of the season to you, my dear friend! As many of the good things of this life, as is consistent with the usual mixture of good and evil in the cup of being!
I have just finished a poem, which you will receive enclosed. It is my first essay in the way
I have these several months been hammering at an elegy on the amiable and accomplished Miss Burnet. I have got, and can get, no farther than the following fragment, on which please give me your strictures. In all kinds of poetic composition, I set great store by your
opinion; but in sentimental verses, in the poetry of the heart, no Roman Catholic ever set more value on the infallibility of the Holy Father, than I do on yours.
I mean the introductory couplets as text verses. Life ne'er exulted in so rich a prize, &c. See Poems, p. 296 Let me hear from you soon. Adieu!
To MR. PETER HILL.
17th. January, 1791.
TAKE these two guineas, and place
cules; not all the
them over against that ****** account of yours! which has gagged my mouth these five or six months! I can as little write good things as apologies to the man I owe money to. O the supreme curse of making three guincas do the business of five! Not all the labours of HerHebrews' three centuries of Egyptian bondage, were such an insuperable business, such an ******** task!! Poverty! thou half-sister of death, thou cousin-german of hell! where shall I find force of execration equal to the amplitude of thy demerits? Oppressed by thee, the venerable ancient, grown hoary in the practice of every virtue, laden with years
and wretchedness, implores a little-little aid to support his existence, from a stony-hearted son of Mammon, whose sun of prosperity never knew a cloud; and is by him denied and insulted. Oppressed by thee, the man of sentiment, whose heart glows with independence, and melts with sensibility, inly pines under the neglect, or writhes in bitterness of soul, under the contumely of arrogant, unfeeling wealth. Oppressed by thee, the son of genius, whose illstarred ambition plants him at the tables of the fashionable and polite, must see in suffering silence, his remark neglected, and his person despised, while shallow greatness, in his idiot attempts at wit, shall meet with countenance and applause. Nor is it only the family of worth that have reason to complain of thee: the children of folly and vice, though in common with thee the offspring of evil, smart equally under thy rod. Owing to thee, the man of unfortunate disposition and neglected education, is condemned as a fool for his dissipation, despised and shunned as a needy wretch, when his follies as usual bring him to want; and when his unprincipled necessities drive him to dishonest practices, he is abhorred as a miscreant, and perishes by the justice of his country. But far otherwise is the lot of the man of family and fortune. His early follies and extravagance, are spirit and fire; his consequent wants, are