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any intention, to return to my old acquaintance, the plough, and, if I can meet with a lease by which I can live, to commence farmer. I do not intend to give up poetry: being bred to labour secures me independence, and the muses are my chief, sometimes have been my only, enjoyment. If my practice second my resolution, I shall have principally at heart the serious business of life; but while following my plough, or building up my shocks, I shall cast a leisure glance to that dear, that only feature of my character, which gave me the notice of my country, and the patronage of a Wallace.
Thus, honoured madam, I have given you the bard, his situation, and his views, native as they are in his own bosom.
TO THE SAME.
Edinburgh, 15th. April, 1787.
THERE is an affectation of gratitude which I dislike. The periods of Johnson and the pauses of Sterne may hide a selfish heart. For my part, madam, I trust I have too much pride for servility, and too little prudence for
selfishness. I have this moment broken open
your letter, but
"Rude am I in speech,
"And therefore little can I grace my cause
"In speaking for myself—”
so I shall not trouble you with any fine speeches and hunted figures. I shall just lay my hand on my heart, and say, I hope I shall ever have the truest, the warmest, sense of your goodness.
I come abroad, in print, for certain, on Wednesday. Your orders I shall punctually attend to; only by the way, I must tell you that I was paid before for Dr. Moore's and Miss W.'s copies, through the medium of Commissioner Cochrane in this place, but that we can settle when I have the honour of waiting on you.
Dr. Smith* was just gone to London the morning before I received your letter to him.
To DR. MOORE.
Edinburgh, 23d. April, 1787.
I RECEIVED the books, and sent the one you mentioned to Mrs. Dunlop. I am ill skilled in beating the coverts of imagination for metaphors of gratitude. I thank you, sir, for
* Dr. Adam Smith.
the honour you have done me; and to my latest hour will warmly remember it. To be highly pleased with your book is what I have in common with the world; but to regard these volumes as a mark of the author's friendly esteem, is a still more supreme gratification.
I leave Edinburgh in the course of ten days or a fortnight, and, after a few pilgrimages over some of the classic ground of Caledonia, Cowden Knowes, Banks of Yarrow, Tweed, &c. I shall return to my rural shades, in all likelihood never more to quit them. I have formed many intimacies and friendships here, but I am afraid they are all of too tender a construction to bear carriage a hundred and fifty miles. To the rich, the great, the fashionable, the polite, I have no equivalent to offer; and I am afraid my meteor appearance will by no means entitle me to a settled correspondence with any of you, who are the permanent lights of genius and literature.
My most respectful compliments to Miss W.. If once this tangent flight of mine were over, and I were returned to my wonted leisurely motion in my old circle, I may probably endeavour to return her poetic compliment in kind
EXTRACT OF A LETTER
To MRS. DUNLOP.
Edinburgh, 30th. April, 1787
YOUR criticisms, madam, I understand
very well, and could have wished to have pleas
ed you better.
You are right in your guess
that I am not very amenable to counsel. Poets, much my superiors, have so flattered those, who possessed the adventitious qualities of wealth and power, that I am determined to flatter no created being, either in prose or in verse.
I set as little by *****, Lords, Clergy, Critics, &c. as all these respective gentry do by my bardship. I know what I may expect from the world, by and bye; illiberal abuse, and perhaps contemptuous neglect.
I am happy, madam, that some of my own favourite pieces are distinguished by your particular approbation. For my Dream, which has unfortunately incurred your loyal displeasure, I hope in four weeks, or less, to have the honour of appearing at Dunlop, in its defence, in person.
Edinburgh, April, 9th. 1787.
As I have seen a good deal of human life in Edinburgh, a great many characters which are new, to one bred up in the shades of life as I have been, I am determined to take down my remarks on the spot. Gray observes, in a letter to Mr. Palgrave, that "half a word "fixed, upon or near the spot, is worth a cart "load of recollection." I don't know how it is with the world in general, but with me, making my remarks, is by no means a solitary pleasure. I want some one to laugh with me, some one to be grave with me, some one to please me and help my discrimination with his or her own remark; and at times, no doubt, to admire my acuteness and penetration. The world are so busied with selfish pursuits, ambition, vanity, interest, or pleasure, that very few think it worth their while to make any observation on what passes around them, except where that observation is a sucker, or branch of the darling plant they are rearing
*The following are Extracts from a book which our Author procured in the spring of 1787, for the purpose, as he himself informs us, of recording in it whatever seemed worthy of obe servation.