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of devotion, for breaking in on that habituated | conversation with the Rhodian Colossus, that routine of life and thought, which is so apt to my mind misgives me, and the affair always reduce our existence to a kind of instinct, or miscarries somewhere between purpose and even sometimes, and with some minds, to a resolve. I have, at last, got some business state very little superior to mere machinery. with you, and business-letters are written by This day; the first Sunday of May; a the style-book.-I say my business is with breezy, blue-skyed noon some time about the you, sir, for you never had any with me, except beginning, and a hoary morning and calm sunny the business that benevolence has in the manday about the end, of autumn; these, time out sion of poverty. of mind, have been with me a kind of holiday.

I believe I owe this to that glorious paper in the Spectator, "The Vision of Mirza;" a piece that struck my young fancy before I was capable of fixing an idea to a word of three syllables: "On the 5th day of the moon, which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hill of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer."

The character and employment of a poet were formerly my pleasure, but are now my pride. I know that a very great deal of my late eclat was owing to the singularity of my situation, and the honest prejudice of Scotsmen; but still, as I said in the preface to my first edition, I do look upon myself as having some pretensions from Nature to the poetic character. I have not a doubt but the knack, the aptitude, to learn the muses' trade, is a gift bestowed by Him "who forms the secret bias of the soul;"--but as I firmly believe, that excellence in the profession is the fruit of industry, labour, attention, and pains. At least I am resolved to try my doctrine by the test of We know nothing, or next to nothing, of experience. Another appearance from the the substance or structure of our souls, so press I put off to a very distant day, a day that cannot account for those seeming caprices, in may never arrive--but poesy I am determined them, that one should be particularly pleased to prosecute with all my vigour. Nature has with this thing, or struck with that, which, on given very few, if any, of the profession, th minds of a different cast, makes no extraordi- talents of shining in every species of composinary impression. I have some favourite tion. I shall try (for until trial it is impossiflowers in spring, among which are the moun-ble to know) whether she has qualified me to tain daisy, the hare-bell, the fox-glove, the shine in any one. The worst of it is, by the wild-brier rose, the budding birch, and the time one has finished a piece, it has been so hoary hawthorn, that I view and hang over often viewed and reviewed before the mental with particular delight. I never hear the loud, eye, that one loses, in a good measure, the solitary whistle of the curlew, in a summer powers of critical discrimination. Here the noon, or the wild mixing cadence of a troop of best criterion I know is a friend-not only of grey plover, in an autumnal morning, without abilities to judge, but with good nature enough, feeling an elevation of soul like the enthusiasm like a prudent teacher with a young learner, to of devotion or poetry. Tell me, my dear praise perhaps a little more than is exactly friend, to what can this be owing? Are we just, lest the thin-skinned animal fall into that a piece of machinery, which, like the Eolian most deplorable of all poetic diseases-heartharp, passive, takes the impression of the pas- breaking despondency of himself. Dare I, sir, sing accident? Or do these workings argue already immensely indebted to your goodness, something within us above the trodden clod? ask the additional obligation of your being that I own myself partial to such proofs of those friend to me? I enclose you an essay of mine, awful and important realities-a GOD that in a walk of poesy to me entirely new; I mean made all things-man's immaterial and im- the epistle addressed to R. G. Esq. or Robert mortal nature and a world of weal or woe Graham, of Fintry, Esq. a gentleman of unbeyond death and the grave. common worth, to whom I lie under very great obligations. The story of the poem, like most of my poems, is connected with my own story, and to give you the one, I must give you something of the other. I cannot boast of




Ellisland, near Dumfries, 4th Jan. 1789.

As often as I think of writing to you, which has been three or four times every week these six months, it gives me something so like the idea of an ordinary-sized statue offering at a

I believe I shall, in whole, £100 copy-right included, clear about £400 some little odds; and even part of this depends upon what the gentleman has yet to settle with me. I give you this information, because you did me the honour to interest yourself much in my wel. fare.

To give the rest of my story in brief, I have married "my Jean," and taken a farm; with the first step I have every day more and more reason to be satisfied; with the last, it is rather the reverse. I have a younger brother, who supports my aged mother; another still younger brother, and three sisters, in a farm. On my last return from Edinburgh, it cost me about £180 to save them from ruin. Not that I have lost so much-I only interposed between my brother and his impending fate by the loan of so much. I give myself no airs on this, for it was mere selfishness on my part; I was conscious that the wrong scale of the balance was pretty heavily charged, and I thought that throwing a little filial piety, and traternal affection, into the scale in my favour, might help to smooth matters at the grand reckoning. There is still one thing would make my circumstances quite easy; I have an excise officer's commission, and I live in the midst of a country division. My request to Mr Graham, who is one of the commissioners of excise, was, if in his power, to procure me that division. If I were very sanguine, I might hope that some of my great patrons might procure me a treasury warrant for su pervisor, surveyor-general, &c.

Thus secure of a livelihood, "to thee, sweet poetry, delightful maid,” I would consecrate my future days.

No. LXX.


tical infidelity would, to me, ever justify, I must have been a fool to have hesitated, and a madman to have made another choice.

In the affair of a livelihood, I think myself tolerably secure: I have good hopes of my farm; but should they fail, I have an excise commission, which on my simple petition, will, at any time, procure me bread. There is a certain stigma affixed to the character of an excise officer, but I do not intend to borrow honour from any profession; and though the salary be comparatively small, it is great to any thing that the first twenty-five years of my life taught me to expect.

Thus, with a rational aim and method in life, you may easily guess, my reverend and much-honoured friend, that my characteristical trade is not forgotten. I am, if possible, more than ever an enthusiast to the muses. I am determined to study man and nature, and in that view incessantly; and to try if the ripening and corrections of years can enable me to produce something worth preserving.

You will see in your book, which I beg your pardon for detaining so long, that I have been tuning my lyre on the banks of Nith. Some larger poetic plans that are floating in my imagination, or partly put in execution, I shall impart to you when I have the pleasure of meeting with you, which, if you are then in Edinburgh, I shall have about the beginning of March.

That acquaintance, worthy sir, with which you were pleased to honour me, you must still allow me to challenge; for with whatever unconcern I give up my transient connection with the merely great, I cannot lose the pa

Ellistand, near Dumfries, 3d Feb. 1789. tronizing notice of the learned and the good,


As I am conscious that wherever I am you do me the honour to interest yourself in my welfare, it gives me pleasure to inform you, that I am here at last, stationary in the serious business of life, and have now not only the retired leisure, but the hearty inclination, to attend to those great and important questions-what I am? where I am? and for what I am destined? In that first concern, the conduct of the man, there was ever but one side on which I was habitually blameable, and there I have secured myself in the way pointed out by Nature and Nature's God. I was sensible that, to so helpless a creature as a poor poet, a wife and family were incumbrances, which a species of prudence would bid him shun; but when the alternative was, being at eternal warfare with myself, on account of habitual follies, to give them no worse name, which no general example, no licentious wit, no sophis

without the bitterest regret.




2d January, 1789. IF you have lately seen Mrs Dunlop, of Dunlop, you have certainly heard of the author of the verses which accompany this letter. He was a man highly respectable for every accomplishment and virtue which adorns the character of a man or a Christian. To a great degree of literature, of taste, and poetic genius, was added an invincible modesty of temper, which prevented, in a great degree, his figuring in life, and confined the perfect knowledge of his character and talents to the small circle of his chosen friends. He was untimely taken from us, a few weeks ago, by an inflammatory

fever, in the prime of life-beloved by all, who enjoyed his acquaintance, and lamented by all, who have any regard for virtue or genius. There is a woe pronounced in Scripture against the person whom all men speak well of; if ever that woe fell upon the head of mortal man, it fell upon him. He has left behind him a considerable number of compositions, 'chiefly poetical; sufficient, I imagine, to make a large octavo volume. In particular, two complete and regular tragedies, a farce of three acts, and some smaller poems on different subjects. It falls to my share, who have lived in the most intimate and uninterrupted friendship with him from my youth upwards, to transmit to you the verses he wrote on the publication of your incomparable poems. It is probable they were his last, as they were found in his scrutoire, folded up with the form of a letter addressed to you, and I imagine, were only prevented from being sent by himself, by that melancholy dispensation which we still bemoan. The verses themselves I will not pretend to criticise when writing to a gentleman whom I consider as entirely qualified to judge of their merit. They are the only verses he seems to have attempted in the Scottish style; and I hesitate not to say, in general, that they will bring no dishonour on the Scottish muse; and allow me to add, that if it is your opinion they are not unworthy of the author, and will be no discredit to you, it is the inclination of Mr Mylne's friends that they should be immediately published in some periodical work, to give the world a specimen of what may be expected from his performances in the poetic line, which, perhaps, will be afterwards published for the advantage of his family.

I must beg the favour of a letter from you, acknowledging the receipt of this, and to be allowed to subscribe myself with great regard, Sir, your most obedient servant, P. C

to exclaim-" What merits has he had, or what demerit have I had, in some state of preexistence, that he is ushered into this state of being with the sceptre of rule, and the key of riches, in his puny fist, and I am kicked into the world, the sport of folly, or the victim of pride ?" I have read somewhere of a monarch (in Spain I think it was,) who was so out of humour with the Ptolemean system of astronomy, that he said, had he been of the CREATOR's council, he could have saved him a great deal of labour and absurdity. I will not defend this blasphemous speech; but often, as I have glided with humble stealth through the pomp of Prince's Street, it has suggested itself to me, as an improvement on the present human figure, that a man, in proportion to his own conceit of his consequence in the world, could have pushed out the longitude of his common size, as a snail pushes out his horns, or as we draw out a perspective. This trifling alteration, not to mention the prodigious saving it would be in the tear and wear of the neck and limb-sinews of many of his Majesty's liege subjects in the way of tossing the head and tiptoe strutting, would evidently turn out a vast advantage, in enabling us at once to adjust the ceremonials in making a bow, or making way to a great man, and that too within a second of the precise spherical angle of reverence, or an inch of the particular point of respectful distance, which the important creature itself requires; as a measuring-glance at its towering altitude would determine the affair like instinct.

You are right, madam, in your idea of poor Mylne's poem, which he has addressed to me. The piece has a good deal of merit, but it has one great fault-it is, by far, too long. Besides, my success has encouraged such a shoal of ill-spawned monsters to crawl into public notice, under the title of Scottish Poets, that the very term of Scottish Poetry borders on the burlesque. When I write to Mr C-, I shall advise him rather to try one of his deceased friend's English pieces. I am prodigiously hurried with my own matters, else I would have requested a perusal of all Mylne's poetic performances; and would have offered his friends my assistance in either selecting or correcting what would be proper for the press. What it is that occupies me so much, and perhaps a little oppresses my present spirits, Ellisland, 4th March, 1789. shall fill up a paragraph in some future letter. HERE am I, my honoured friend, returned In the meantime allow me to close this epistle safe from the capital. To a man, who has a with a few lines done by a friend of mine.. home, however humble or remote-if that... I give you them, that as you have seen home is like mine, the scene of domestic comfort-the bustle of Edinburgh will soon be a business of sickening disgust.



"Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate you!"

When I must skuik into a corner, lest the rattling equipage of some gaping blockhead should mangle me in the mire, I am tempted

the original, you may guess whether one or
two alterations I have ventured to make in
them, be any real improvement.

Like the fair plant that from our touch withdraws,
Shrink mildly fearful even from applause,
Be all a mother's fondest hope can dream,
And all you are, my charming -, seem.
Straight as the fox-glove, ere her bells disclose,
Mild as the maiden-blushing hawthorn blows,

Fair as the fairest of each lovely kind,
Your form shall be the image of your mind:
Your manners shall so true your soul express,
That all shall long to know the worth they guess;
Congenial hearts shall greet with kindred love,
And even sick'ning envy must approve.*

merous family:-not in pity to that family, but in justice to what his friends think the in the most effectual manner, to those tender poetic merits of the deceased; and to secure, connexions, whose right it is, the pecuniary reward of those merits.



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I am much to blame the honour Mr Mylne has done me, greatly enhanced in its value by the endearing, though melancholy circumstance, of its being the last production of his muse, deserved a better return.

I have, as you hint, thought of sending a copy of the poem to some periodical publication; but, on second thoughts, I am afraid that, in the present case, it would be an improper step. My success, perhaps as much accidental as merited, has brought an inundation of nonsense under the name of Scottish poetry. Subscription bills for Scottish poems have so dunned, and daily do dun the public, that the very name is in danger of contempt. For these reasons, if publishing any of Mr M.'s poems in a magazine, &c. be at all prudent, in my opinion it certainly should not be a Scottish The profits of the labours of a man of genius, are, I hope, as honourable as any profits whatever; and Mr Mylne's relations are most justly entitled to that honest harvest, which fate has denied himself to reap. But let the friends of Mr Mylne's fame (among whom I crave the honour of ranking myself), always keep in eye his respectability as a man and as a poet, and take no measure that, before the world knows any thing about him, would risk his name and character being classed with the fools of the times.


I have, sir, some experience of publishing; and the way in which I would proceed with Mr Mylne's poems, is this:-I would publish, in two or three English and Scottish public papers, any one of his English poems which should, by private judges, be thought the most excellent, and mention it at the same time, as one of the productions of a Lothian farmer, of respectable character, lately deceased, whose poems his friends had it in idea to publish, soon, by subscription, for the sake of his nu

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SIR, Ellisland, 23d March, 1789. Mr Nielson, a worthy clergyman in my neighTHE gentleman who will deliver you this is a bourhood, and a very particular acquaintance of mine. As I have troubled him with this packet, I must turn him over to your goodness, to recompense him for it in a way in which he can effectually serve him:-Mr Nielson is on much needs your assistance, and where you his way for France, to wait on his Grace of Queensberry, on some little business of a good deal of importance to him, and he wishes for mode of travelling, &c. for him, when he has your instructions respecting the most eligible crossed the Channel. I should not have dared to take this liberty with you, but that I am told, by those who have the honour of your personal acquaintance, that to be a poor honest Scotchman is a letter of recommendation to you, and that to have it in your power to serve such a character, gives you much pleasure.

The enclosed ode is a compliment to the memory of the late Mrs, of You probably knew her personally, an honour of which I cannot boast; but I spent my early years in her neighbourhood, and among her servants and tenants. I know that she was detested with the most heartfelt cordiality. However, in the particular part of her conduct which roused my poetic wrath, she was much less blameable. În January last, on my road to Ayrshire, I had put up at Bailie Wigham's in Sanquhar, the only tolerable inn in the place. The frost was keen, and the grim night of snow and drift. My horse and I were evening and howling wind were ushering in a both much fatigued with the labours of the day, and just as my friend the Bailie and I were bidding defiance to the storm, over a smoking bowl, in wheels the funeral pageantry of the late great Mrs forced to brave all the horrors of the tempes, and poor I am tuous night, and jade my horse, my young favourite horse, whom I had just christened Pegasus, twelve miles farther on, through the wildest muirs and hills of Ayrshire, to New Cumnock, the next inn. The powers of poesy and prose sink under me, when I would describe what I felt. Suffice it to say, that when a good fire, at New Cumnock, had so far re

covered my frozen sinews, I sat down and wrote the enclosed ode.

I was at Edinburgh lately, and settled finally with Mr Creech; and I must own, that, at last, he has been amicable and fair with me.

merits! Pledge yourself for me, that, for the glorious cause of LUCRE, I will do any thing, be any thing-but the horse-leech of private oppression, or the vulture of public robbery !



Ellisland, 2d April, 1789. I WILL make no excuses, my dear Bibliopolus, (GOD forgive me for murdering language!) that I have sat down to write you on this vile paper.

It is economy, sir; it is that cardinal virtue, prudence; so I beg you will sit down, and either compose or borrow a panegyric. If you are going to borrow, apply to

to compose, or rather to compound, something very clever on my remarkable frugality; that I write to one of my most esteemed friends on this wretched paper, which was originally intended for the venal fist of some drunken exciseman, to take dirty notes in a miserable vault of an ale-cellar.

O Frugality! thou mother of ten thousand blessings-thou cook of fat beef and dainty greens!-thou manufacturer of warm Shetland hose, and comfortable surtouts !-thou old housewife, darning thy decayed stockings with thy ancient spectacles on thy aged nose ;lead me, hand me in thy clutching palsied fist, up those heights, and through those thickets, hitherto inaccessible, and impervious to my anxious weary feet:-not those Parnassian craggs, bleak and barren, where the hungry worshippers of fame are, breathless, clambering, hanging between heaven and hell; but those glittering cliffs of Potosi, where the allsufficient, all-powerful deity, Wealth, holds his immediate court of joys and pleasures; where the sunny exposure of plenty, and the hot walls of profusion, produce those blissful fruits of luxury, exotics in this world, and natives of paradise!-Thou withered sybil, my sage conductress, usher me into the refulgent, adored presence!-The power, splendid and potent as he now is, was once the puling nurs ling of thy faithful care, and tender arms! Call me thy son, thy cousin, thy kinsman, or favourite, and adjure the god, by the scenes of his infant years, no longer to repulse me as a stranger, or an alien, but to favour me with his peculiar countenance and protection! He daily bestows his greatest kindness on the undeserving and the worthless-assure him, that I bring ample documents of meritorious de

But to descend from heroics,

I want a Shakspeare; I want likewise an Eng lish dictionary-Johnson's, I suppose, is best. In these and all my prose commissions, the cheapest is always the best for me. There is a small debt of honour that I owe Mr Robert Cleghorn, in Saughton Mills, my worthy friend, and your well-wisher. Please give him, and urge him to take it, the first time you see him, ten shillings worth of any thing you have to sell, and place it to my account.

The library scheme that I mentioned to you is already begun, under the direction of Captain Riddel. There is another in emulation of it going on at Closeburn, under the auspices of Mr Monteith, of Closeburn, which will be on a greater scale than ours. Capt. R. gave his infant society a great many of his old books, else I had written you on that subject; but, one of these days, I shall trouble you with a commission for "The Monkland Friendly Society"-a copy of The Spectator, Mirror, and Lounger; Man of Feeling, Man of the World, Guthrie's Geographical Grammar, with some religious pieces, will likely be our first order.

When I grow richer, I will write to you on gilt post, to make amends for this sheet. At present, every guinea has a five guinea errand with

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