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declare every artery runs cold at the thought. I shall try, however, to write to him to-morrow or next day. His kind interposition in my half I have already experienced, as a gentleman waited on me the other day, on the part of Lord Eglinton, with ten guineas, by way of subscription for two copies of my next edition.
The word you object to in the mention I have made of my glorious countryman and your immortal ancestor, is indeed borrowed from Thomson; but it does not strike me as an improper epithet. I distrusted my own judgment on your finding fault with it, and applied for the opinion of some of the literati here, who honour me with their critical strictures, and they all allow it to be proper. The song you ask I cannot recollect, and I have not a copy of it. I have not composed any thing on the great Wallace, except what you have seen in print; and the inclosed, which I will print in this edition.* You will see I have mentioned some others of the name. When I composed my Vision, long ago, I had attempted a description of Koyle; of which the additional stanzas are a part, as it originally stood. My heart glows with a wish to be able to do justice to the merits of the Saviour of his Country, which sooner or later I shall at least attempt.
Stanzas in The Vision, beginning "By stately tower or palace fair," and ending with the first Duan. See Poems, p. 91.
You are afraid I shall
my prosperity as a Poet: alas, madam, I know myself and the world too well. I do not mean any airs of affected modesty; I am willing to believe that my abilities deserved some notice; but in a most enlightened, informed age and nation, when poetry is and has been the study of men of the first natural genius, aided with all the powers of polite learning, polite books, and polite company-to be dragged forth to the full glare of learned and polite observation, with all my imperfections of aukward rusticity, and crude unpolished ideas on my head-I assure you, madam, I do not dissemble when I tell you, I tremble for the consequences. The novelty of a Poet in my obscure situation, without any of those advantages which are reckoned necessary for that character, at least at this time of day, has raised a partial tide of public notice, which has borne me to a height, where I am absolutely, feelingly certain, my abilities are inadequate to support me; and too surely do I see that time when the same tide will leave me, and recede perhaps as far below the mark of truth.
Your patronising me and interesting yourself in my fame and character as a Poet, I rejoice in; it exalts me in my own idea; and whether you can or cannot aid me in my subscription is a
trifle. Has a paltry subscription-bill any charms to the heart of a bard, compared with the patronage of the descendant of the immortal Wallace?
To DR. MOORE.
MRS. DUNLOP has been so kind as
to send me extracts of letters she has had from you, where you do the rustic bard the honour of noticing him and his works. Those who have felt the anxieties and solicitudes of authorship can only know what pleasure it gives to be noticed in such a manner, by judges of the first character. Your criticisms, sir, I receive with reverence; only I am sorry they mostly came too late: a peccant passage or two that I would certainly have altered were gone to the press.
in by far
The hope to be admired for ages is, the greatest part of those even who are authors of repute, an unsubstantial dream. For my
part, my first ambition was, and still my strongest wish is, to please my compeers, the rustic inmates of the hamlet, while ever-changing lauguage and manners shall allow me to be relished and understood. I am very willing to admit
that I have some poetical abilities; and as few if any writers, either moral or poetical, are intimately acquainted with the classes of mankind among whom I have chiefly mingled, I may have seen men and manners in a different phasis from what is common, which may assist originality of thought. Still I know very well the novelty of my character has by far the greatest share in the learned and polite notice I have lately had and in a language where Pope and Churchill have raised the laugh, and Shenstone and Gray drawn the tear; where Thomson and Beattie have painted the landscape, and Lyttleton and Collins described the heart, I am not vain enough to hope for distinguished poetic fame.
FROM DR. MOORE.
Clifford-strect, January 23d. 1787.
I HAVE just received your letter, by which I find I have reason to complain of my friend Mrs. Dunlop, for transmitting to you extracts from my letters to her, by much too freely and too carelessly written for your perusal. I must forgive her, however, in consideration of her good intention, as you will forgive me, I
hope, for the freedom I use with certain expressions, in consideration of my adıniration of the poems in general. If I may judge of the author's disposition from his works, with all the other good qualities of a poet, he has not the irritable temper ascribed to that race of men by one of their own number, whom you have the happiness to resemble in ease and curious felicity of expression. Indeed the poetical beauties, however original and brilliant, and lavishly scattered, are not all I admire in your works; the love of your native country, that feeling sensibility to all the objects of humanity, and the independent spirit which breathes through the whole, give me a most favourable impression of the Poet, and have made me often regret that I did not see the poems, the certain effect of which would have been my seeing the author, last summer, when I was longer in Scotland than I have been for many years.
I rejoice very sincerely at the encouragement you receive at Edinburgh, and I think you pceuliarly fortunate in the patronage of Dr. Blair, who I am informed interests himself very much for you. I beg to be remembered to him; nobody can have a warmer regard for that gentleman than I have, which, independent of the worth of his character, would be kept alive by the memory of our common friend, the late Mr. George Be.