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in the country. Go out with Mr. Ker, one of the club, and a friend of Mr. Ainslie's, to sleep. In his mind and manners, Mr. Ker is astonishingly like my dear old friend Robert MuirEvery thing in his house elegant. He offers to accompany me in my English tour.
Tuesday. Dine with Sir Alexander Don; a very wet day. Sleep at Mr. Ker's again, and set out next day for Melross-visit Dryburgh, a fine old ruined abbey by the way. Cross the Leader and come up the Tweed to Melross. Dine there, and visit that far-famed glorious ruin-Come to Selkirk up the banks of Ettrick. The whole country hereabouts, both on Tweed and Ettrick, remarkably stoney.*
The intentions of the Poet in procuring this book, were very imperfectly executed. He has inserted in it few or no incidents, but several observations and reflections, of which the greater part that are proper for the public eye, will be found interwoven in his Letters. The most curious particulars in the book are the delineations of the characters he met with.These are not numerous; but they are chiefly of persons of distinction in the republic of letters, and nothing but the delicacy and respect due to living characters, prevents us from committing them to the press. Though it appears that in his conversation he was sometimes disposed to sarcastic remarks on the men with whom he lived, nothing of this kind is discoverable in these more deliberate efforts of his understanding, which, while they exhibit great clearness of discrimination, manifest also the wish, as well as the power, to bestow high and generous praise.
REVEREND DR. HUGH BLAIR.
Laren-market, Edinburgh, 3d. May, 1787. REV. AND MUCH RESPECTED SIR,
I LEAVE Edinburgh to-morrow mornning, but could not go without troubling you with half a line, sincerely to thank you for the kindness, patronage, and friendship, you have shewn me. I often felt the embarrassment of my singular situation; drawn forth from the veriest shades of life to the glare of remark; and honoured by the notice of those illustrious names of my country, whose works, while they are applauded to the end of time, will ever instruct and mend the heart. However the meteor-like novelty of my appearance in the world might attract notice, and honour me with the accquaintance of the permanent lights of genius and literature, those who are truly benefactors of the immortal nature of man; I knew very well, that my utmost merit was far unequal to the task of preserving that character when once the novelty was over: I have made up my mind that abuse, or almost even neglect will not surprize me in my quarters.
I have sent you a proof impression of Beugo's work for me, done on Indian paper, as a trifling but sincere testimony with what heart-warm gratitude I am, &c.
FROM DR. BLAIR.
Argyle-square, Edinburgh, 4th. May, 1787.
I WAS favoured this forenoon with your very obliging letter, together with an impression of your portrait, for which I return you my best thanks. The success you have met with I do not think was beyond your merits; and if I have had any small hand in contributing to it, it gives me great pleasure. I know no way in which literary persons who are advanced in years can do more service to the world, than in forwarding the efforts of rising genius, or bringing forth unknown merit from obscurity. I was the first person who brought out to the notice of the world the poems of Ossian; first, by the Fragments of ancient Poetry, which I published, and afterwards, by my setting on foot the undertaking for collecting and publishing the Works of Ossian; and I have always considered this as a meritorious action of my life.
Your situation,as you say, was indeed very sinqalar; and in being brought out all at once from
e shades of deepest privacy to so great a share public notice and observation, you had to tand a severe trial. I am happy that you have tood it so well; and, as far as I have known or !eard, though in the midst of many temptations, without reproach to your character and behajour.
You are now I presume to retire to a more rivate walk of life; and I trust will conduct ourself there with industry, prudence and hoour. You have laid the foundation for just ublic esteem. In the midst of those employents, which your situation will render proper, ou will not I hope neglect to promote that steem, by cultivating your genius, and attend
g to such productions of it as may raise your Character still higher. At the same time be not
too great a haste to come forward. Take me and leisure to improve and mature your idents. For on any second production you ive the world, your fate, as a Poet, will very uch depend. There is no doubt a gloss of ovelty, which time wears off. As you very operly hint yourself, you are not to be surpriz1, if in your rural retreat you do not find yourIf surrounded with that glare of notice and plause which here shone upon you. No man can be a good Poet without being somewhat of a
philosopher. He must lay his account, that an one, who exposes himself to public observatio. will occasionally meet with the attacks of illib... al censure, which it is always best to overlo and despise. He will be inclined sometimes court retreat, and to disappear from public vie He will not affect to shine always; that he m at proper seasons come forth with more adv.... tage and energy. He will not think hims neglected if he be not always praised. . I ha taken the liberty you see of an old man to giv advice and make reflections, which your o.1 good sense will I dare say render unnecessa
you mention your being just about leave town, you are going, I should suppose. Dumfries-shire to look at some of Mr. Mill. farms. I heartily wish the offers to be m you there may answer; as I am persuaded: will not easily find a more generous and bet hearted proprietor to live under, than Mr. ler. When you return, if you come this w I will be happy to see you, and to know c. cerning your future plans of life. You will
me by the 22d. of this month, not in my ho.. in Argyle-square, but at a country hous Restalrig, about a mile east from Edinbur near the Musselburgh road. Wishing you success and prosperity, I am, with real re and esteem, Dear Sir, Yours sincerely,