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ous wish of benevolence, by all the powers and feelings which compose the magnanimous mind, do not deny me this petition.* I owe much to your Lordship; and what has not in some other instances always been the case with me, the weight of the obligation is a pleasing load. I trust I have a heart as independent as your Lordship's, than which I can say nothing more; and I would not be beholden to favours that
would crucify my feelings. Your dignified character in life, and manner of supporting that character, are flatiering to my pride; and I would be jealous of the purity of my grateful attachment, where I was under the patronage of one of the much favoured sons of fortune.
Almost every Poet has celebrated his patrons, particularly when they were names dear to fame, and illustrious in their country; allow me then, my Lord, if you think the verses have intrinsie merit, to tell the world how much I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's highly indebted,
And ever grateful, humble servant.
* It does not appear that the Earl granted this request, nor have the verses alluded to been found among the manuscript,
TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN.
THE honour your Lordship has done me, by your notice and advice, in yours of the 1st. instant, I shall ever gratefully remember.
Praise from thy lips 'tis mine with joy to boast,
They best can give it who deserve it most."
Your Lordship touches the darling chord of my heart, when you advise me to fire my muse at Scottish story and Scottish scenes. I wish for nothing more than to make a leisurely pilgrimage through my native country; to sit and muse on those once hard-contended fields, where Caledonia, rejoicing, saw her bloody lion borne through broken ranks to victory and fame; and catching the inspiration to pour the deathless names in song. But, my Lord, in the midst of these enthusiastic reveries, a long visaged, dry, moral-looking phantom strides across my imagination, and pronounces these emphatic words, I, wisdom, dwell with prudence.
This, my Lord, is unanswerable. I must return to my humble station, and woo my rustic muse in my wonted way at the plough-tail.—
Still my Lord, while the drops of life warm my heart, gratitude to that dear-loved country in which boast my birth, and gratitude to those her distinguished sons, who have honoured me so much with their patronage and approbation, shall, while stealing through my humble shades, ever distend my bosom, and at times draw forth the swelling tear.
Ext. Property in favour of Mr. Robert Burne, to erect and keep up a Headstone, in memory of Poet Fergusson, 1787.
Session-house, within the Kirk of Canongate, the twenty second day of February, one thousand seven hundred eighty seven years.
Sederunt of the Managers of the Kirk and Kirk Yard funds of Canongate.
WHICH day, the treasurer to the said funds produced a letter from Mr. Robert Burns, of date the sixth current, which was read and appointed to be engrossed in their sederunt book, and of which letter the tenor follows."To the honourable baillies of Canongate,
“told that the remains of Robert Fergusson, the
so justly celebrated Poet, a man whose talents "for ages to come will do honour to our Caledonian name, lie in your church-yard among "the ignoble dead, unnoticed and unknown. "Some memorial to direct the steps of the lovers of Scottish song, when they wish to "shed a tear over the "narrow house" of the "bard who is no more, is surely a tribute due "to Fergusson's memory: a tribute I wish to "have the honour of paying.
"I petition you then, gentlemen, to permit me to lay a simple stone over his reverend "ashes, to remain an unalienable property to his deathless fame. I have the honour to be, gentlemen, your very humble servant, (sic "subscribitur)
Thereafter the said managers, in consideration of the laudable and disinterested motion of Mr. Burns, and the picpriety of his request, did, and hereby do, unanimously, grant power and liberty to the said Robert Burns, to erect a headstone at the grave of the said Robert Fergusson, and to keep up and preserve the same to his memory in all time coming. Extracted forth of the records of the managers by
WILLIAM SPROTT, Clerk.
You may think, and too justly, that I am a selfish, ungrateful fellow, having received so many repeated instances of kindness from you, and yet never putting pen to paper to say, thank you; but if you knew what a devil of a life my conscience has led me on that account, your good heart would think yourself too much avenged. By the bye, there is nothing in the whole frame of man, which seems to me so unaccountable as that thing called conscience. Had the troublesome yelping cur powers efficient to prevent a mischief, he might be of use; but at the beginning of the business, his feeble efforts are to the workings of passion as the infant frosts of an autumnal morning to the unclouded fervour of the rising sun:. and no sooner are the tumultuous doings of the wicked deed over, than, amidst the bitter native consequences of folly, in the very vortex of our horrors, up starts conscience and harrows us with the feelings of the d*****.
I have inclosed you, by way of expiation, some verse and prose, that if they merit a place