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This will be delivered by a Mr. Lewars, a young

fellow of uncommon merit. As he will be a day or two in town, you will have leisure, if you

choose to write me by him: and if you have a spare half hour to spend with him, I shall place your kindness to my account.

I have no copies of the songs I have sent you, and I have taken a fancy to review them all, and possibly may mend some of them ; so when you have complete leisure, I will thank you for either the originals or copies.* I had rather be the author of five well-written songs, than of ten otherwise. I have great hopes that the genial influence of the approaching summer will set me to rights, but as yet I cannot boast of returning health. I have now reason to believe that my complaint is a flying gout: a sad business!


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* It is needless to say, that this revisal Burns did not live to perform.


Do let me know how Cleghorn is, and remember me to him.

This should have been delivered to you a month ago. I am still very poorly, but should

like much to hear from you.



Brow, on the Solway-frith, 12th July, 1796.

AFTER all my boasted independence, curst necessity compels me to implore you for five pounds. A cruel ***** of a haberdasher, to whom I owe an account, taking it into his head that I am dying, has commenced a process, and will infallibly put me into jail. Do for

, God's sake, send me that sum, and that by return of post. Forgive me this earnestness, but the horrors of a jail have made me half distracted.

I do

I do not ask all this gratuitously; for, upon 'returning health, I hereby promise and engage to furnish

you with five pounds worth of the neatest song genius you have seen. I tried my hand on Rothemurche this morning. The measure is so difficult, that it is impossible to infuse much genius into the lines ; they are on the other side. Forgive, forgive me !

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Fairest maid on Devon banks,

Crystal Devon, winding Devon, Wilt thou lay that frown aside,

And smile as thou were wont to do?

Full well thou know'st I love thee dear,
Couldst thou to malice lend an ear!
O, did not love exclaim, Forbear,
Nor use a faithful lover so."

Fairest maid, &c.


Then come, thou fairest of the fair,
• Those wonted smiles, O let me share;
And by thy beauteous self I swear,
No love but thine my heart shall know.

Fairest maid, &c.*



* These verses, and the letter enclosing them, are written iu a character that marks the very feeble state of Burns's bodily strength. Mr. Syme is of opinion that he could not have been in any danger of a jail at Dumfries, where certainly he had many firm friends, nor under any such necessity of imploring aid from Edinburgh. But about this time his reason began to be at times unsettled, and the horrors of a jail perpetually haunted his imagination. He died on the 21st of this month.

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Ever since I received your melancholy letter, by Mrs. Hyslop, I have been ruminating in what manner I could endeavour to alleviate your sufferings. Again and again I thought of a pecuniary offer, but the recollection of one of your letters on this subject, and the fear of offending your independent spirit, checked my resolution. I thank you heartily therefore for the frankness of your letter of the 12th, and with great pleasure enclose a draft for the very sum I proposed sending. Would I were Chancellor of the Exchequer but for one day, for

your sake!

Pray, my good Sir, is it not possible for you to muster a volume of poetry? If too much


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