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in your truly entertaining miscellany, you are welcome to. The prose extract is litorally as Mr. Sprott sent it me.

The Inscription on the stone is as follows:

HERE LIES ROBERT FERGUSSON, POET. Born September 5th. 1751-Died 16th. October, 17.

No sculptur'd marble here, nor pompous liy,
"No storied urn, nor animated bust,"

This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way
To pour her sorrows o'er her Poet's dust.

On the other side of the stone is as follows:


By special grant of the managers to Ro"bert Burns, who erected this stone, this burial


place is to remain for ever sacred to the memory of Robert Fergusson."

No. 25.

Extract of a Letter from

8th. March, 1787.

I AM truly happy to know you have found a friend in *********; his patronage of you does him great honour. He is truly a good man. By far the best I ever knew, or perhaps eyer shall know in this world. But I must not speak all I think of him, lest I should be thought partial

So you have obtained liberty from the ma gistrates to erect a stone over Fergusson's grave? I do not doubt it; such things have been, as Shakespeare says, "in the olden-time."

"The Poet's fate is here in emblem shewn,

"He ask'd for bread, and he received a stone."

It is I believe upon poor Butler's tomb that this is written. But how many brothers of Parnassus, as well as poor Butler and poor Fergusson, have asked for bread, and been served with the same sauce.

The magistrates gave you liberty, did they? Oh, generous magistrates! * celebrated over the three kingdoms for his public spirit, gives a poor Poet liberty to raise a tomb to a poor Poet's memory! most generous! ** once upon a time gave that same Poet the mighty sum of eighteen pence for a copy of his works. But then it must be considered that the Poet was at this time absolutely starving, and besought his aid with all the earnestness of hunger. And over and above he received a * *** worth at least one third of the value, in exchange, but which I believe the Poet afterwards very ungratefully expunged.

Next week I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you in Edinburgh, and, as my stay will be for eight or ten days, I wish you or * * * * would take a snug well aired bed-room for me,

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where I may have the pleasure of seeing you over a morning cup of tea. But by all accounts it will be a matter of some difficulty to see you at all, unless your company is bespoke a week before hand. There is a great rumour here concerning your great intimacy with the Dutchess of and other ladies of distinction. I am really told that "cards to invite fly by thousands "each night;" and if you had one, 1 suppose there would also be "bribes to your old secretary." It seems you are resolved to make hay while the sun shines, and avoid if possible the fate of poor Fergusson, * * *

** Quærenda pecunia primum est, virtus post nummos, is a good maxim to thrive by: you seemed to despise it while in this country, but probably some philosopher in Edinburgh has taught you better sense.

Pray are you yet engraving as well as printing? are you yet seized

"With itch of picture in the front,

"With bays and wicked rhyme upon't."

But I must give up this trifling and attend to matters that more concern myself; so as the Aberdeen wit says, Adieu dryly, we sal drink phan we meet.

*The writer is mistaken in supposing the magistrates of Edinburgh had any share in the transaction respecting the monument erected for Fergusson: this, it is evident, passed between Burns and the Kirk Session of the Canongate.


No. 26.


Edinburgh, March 22d. 1787.

I READ your letter with watery eyes. A little, very little while ago, I had scarce a friend but the stubborn pride of my own bosom; now I am distinguished, patronised, befriended by you. Your friendly advices, I will not give them the cold name of criticisms, I receive with reverence. I have made some small alterations in what I before had printed. I have the advice of some very judicious friends among the literati here, but with them I sometimes find it necessary to claim the privilege of thinking for myself. The noble Earl of Glencairn, to whom I owe more than to any man, does me the honour of giving me his strictures: his hints, with respect to impropriety or indelicacy, I follow implicitly.

You kindly interest yourself in my future views and prospects; there I can give you ne light. It is all

"Dark as was Chaos ere the infant sun

"Was roll'd together, or had try'd his beams
"Athwart the gloom profound."

The appellation of a Scottish bard, is by far my highest pride; to continue to deserve it is my most exalted ambition. Scottish scenes and Scottish story are the themes I could wish to sing. I have no dearer aim than to have it in my power, unplagued with the routine of business, for which heaven knows I am unfit enough, to make leisurely pilgrimages through Caledonia; to sit on the fields of her battles; to wander on the romantic banks of her rivers; and to muse by the stately towers or venerable ruins, once the honoured abodes of her heroes.

But these are all Utopian thoughts: I have dallied long enough with life; 'tis time to be in earnest. I have a fond, an aged mother to care for; and some other bosom ties perhaps equally tender. Where the individual only suffers by the consequences of his own thoughtlessness, indolence, or folly, he may be excusable; nay shining abilities, and some of the nobler virtues, may half sanctify a heedless character; but where God and nature have entrusted the welfare of others to his care; where the trust is sacred, and the ties are dear, that man must be far gone in selfishness, or strangely lost to reflection, whom these connexions will not rouse to exertion.

I guess that I shall clear between two and three hundred pounds by my authorship; with that sum I intend, so far as I may be said to have

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