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Mr. BURNS to MR. THOMSON.
MY DEAR SIR,
I RETURN you the plates, with which I am highly pleased; I would humbly propose, instead of the younker knitting stockings, to put a stock and horn into his hands. A friend of mine, who is positively the ablest judge on the subject I have ever met with, and though an unknown, is yet a superior artist with the Burin, is quite charmed with Allan's manner, I
got him a peep of the Gentle Shepherd; and he pronounces Allan a most original artist of great excellence.
For my part, I look on Mr. Allan's choosing my favourite poem for his subject, to be one of the highest compliments I have ever received.
I am quite vexed at Pleyel's being cooped up in France, as it will put an entire stop to our work. Now, and for six or seven months, I shall be quite in song, as you shall see by-andby. I got an air, pretty enough, composed by Lady Elizabeth Heron of Heron, which she calls The Banks of Cree. Cree is a beautiful romantic stream; and as her Ladyship is a particular friend of mine, I have written the following song to it.
BANKS OF CREE.
HERE is the glen, and here the bower,
All underneath the birchen shade; The village-bell has told the hour,
O what can stay my lovely maid ?
'Tis not Maria's whispering call;
'Tis but the balmy-breathing gale, Mixt with some warbler's dying fall,
The dewy star of eve to hail.
It is Maria's voice I hear!
So calls the woodlark in the grove,
At once 'tis music and 'tis love.
And And art thou come! and art thou true!
O welcome dear to love and me!
Along the flowery banks of Cree.
MR. BURNS to MR. THOMSON.
July, 1794. Is there no news yet of Pleyel? Or is your work to be at a dead stop, until the allies set our modern Orpheus at liberty from the savage thraldom of democratic discords ? Alas the day! And woe is me! That auspicious period, pregnant with the happiness of millions.*
I have presented a copy of your songs to the daughter of a much-valued and much-honoured
* A portion of this letter has been left out, for reasons that will be easily imagined,
friend of mine, Mr. Graham, of Fintry. I wrote on the blank side of the title-page the following address to the young lady..,
HERE, where the Scottish Muse immortal lives,
In sacred strains and tuneful numbers join'd, Accept the gift; tho' humble he who gives,
Rich is the tribute of the grateful mind.
So may no ruffian-feeling* in thy breast,
Discordant jar thy bosom-chords among; But peace attune thy gentle soul to rest,
Or love ecstatic wake his seraph song,
Or pity's notes, in luxury of tears,
As modest want the tale of woe reveals; While conscious virtue all the strain endears,
And heaven-born piety her sanction seals.
* It were to have been wished, that instead of ruffianfeeling, the bard had used a less rugged epithet, e. g. ruder.
Edinburgh, 10th August, 1794. MY DEAR SIR,
I owe you an apology for having so long delayed to acknowledge the favour of your last. I fear it will be as you say, I shall have no more songs from Pleyel till France and we are friends; but nevertheless, I am very desirous to be prepared with the poetry; and as the season approaches in which your muse of Coila visits you,
I trust I shall, as formerly, be frequently gratified with the result of your amorous and tender interviews !