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out effect. The task was beset with considerable difficulties; and men of established reputation naturally declined an undertaking, to the performance of which it was scarcely to be hoped that general approbation could be obtained, by any exertion of judgment or temper.
To such an office, my place of residence, my accustomed studies, and my occupation, were certainly little suited; but the partiality of Mr Syme thought me in other respects not unqualified; and his solicitations, joined to those of our excellent friend and relation Mrs Dunlop, and of other friends of the family of the poet, I have not been able to resist. To remove difficulties which would otherwise have been insurmountable, Mr Syme and Mr Gilbert Burns made a journey to Liverpool, where they explained and arranged the manuscripts, and arranged such as seemed worthy of the press. From this visit I derived a degree of pleasure which has compensated much of my labour. I had the satis faction of renewing my personal intercourse with a much valued friend, and of forming an acquaintance with a man closely allied to Burns in talents as well as in blood, in whose future fortunes the friends of virtue will not, I trust, be uninterested.
The publication of these volumes has been delayed by obstacles which these gentlemen could neither remove nor foresee, and which it would be tedious to enumerate. At length the task is finished. If the part which I have taken, shall serve the interest of the family, and receive the approbation of good men, I shall have my recompense. The errors into which I have fallen are not, I hope, very important; and they will be easily accounted for by those who know the circumstances under which this undertaking has been performed. Generous minds will receive the posthumous works of Burns with candour, and even partiality, as the remains of an unfortunate man of genius, published for the benefit of his family, as the stay of the widow, and the hope of the fatherless.
To secure the suffrages of such minds, all topics are omitted in the writings, and avoided in the life of Burns, that have a tendency to awaken the animosity of party. In perusing the following volumes, no offence will be received, except by those to whom the natural erect aspect of genius is offensive; characters that will scarcely be found among those who are educated to the profession of arms. Such men do not court situations of danger, nor tread in the paths of glory. They will not be found in your service, which in our own days, emu lates on another element, the superior fame of the Macedonian phalanx, or of the Roman legion, and which has lately made the shores of Europe and of Africa, resound with the shouts of victory, from the Texel to the Tagus, and from the Tagus to the Nile!
The works of Burns will be received favourably by one who stands in the foremost rank of this noble service, and who deserves his station. On the land or on the sea, I know no man more capable of judging of the character or of the writings of this original genius Homer, and Shakspeare, and Ossian, cannot always oc
cupy your leisure. These volumes may sometimes engage your attention, while the steady breezes of the tropic swell your sails, and in another quarter of the earth, charm you with the strains of nature, or awake in your memory the scenes of your early days Suffer me to hope that they may sometimes recall to your mind the friend who addresses you, and who bids you most affectionately adieu!
Liverpool, 1st May, 1800.
It is impossible to dismiss this Volume* of the Correspondence of our Bard, without some anxiety as to the reception it may meet with. The experiment we are making has not often been tried; perhaps on no occasion has so large a portion of the recent and unpremeditated effusions of a man of genius been committed to the press.
of his mind, where they have seemed in themselves worthy of a place in this volume, we have not hesitated to insert them, though they may not always correspond exactly with the letters transmitted, which have been lost or withheld.
Our author appears at one time to have formed an intention of making a collection of his letters for the amusement of a friend. Acconsid-cordingly he copied an inconsiderable number of them into a book, which he presented to Robert Riddel, of Glenriddel, Esq. Among these was the account of his life, addressed to Dr Moore, and printed in the first volume. In copying from his imperfect sketches (it does not appear that he had the letters actually sent to his correspondents before him) he seems to have occasionally enlarged his observations, and altered his expressions. In such instances hi emendations have been adopted; but in truth there are but five of the letters thus selected by the poet, to be found in the present volume, the rest being thought of inferior merit, or otherwise unfit for the public eye.
Of the following letters of Burns, a erable number were transmitted for publication, by the individuals to whom they were addressed; but very few have been printed entire. It will easily be believed, that in a series of letters written without the least view to publication, various passages were found unfit for the press, from different considerations. It will also be readily supposed, that our Poet, writing nearly at the same time, and under the same feelings to different individuals, would sometimes fall into the same train of sentiment and forms of expression. To avoid, therefore, the tediousness of such repetitions, it has been found necessary to mutilate many of the individual letters, and sometimes to exscind parts of great delicacy-the unbridled effusions of panegyric and regard. But though many of the letters are printed from originals furnished by the persons to whom they were addressed, others are printed from first draughts, or sketches, found among the papers of our Bard. Though in general no man committed his thoughts to his correspondents with less consideration or effort than Burns, yet it appears that in some instances he was dissatisfied with his first essays, and wrote out his com-idiom of our language, which he wrote in genemunications in a fairer character, or perhaps in ral with great accuracy. Some difference will more studied language. In the chaos of his indeed be found in this respect in his earlier and manuscripts, some of the original sketches were in his later compositions; and this volume will found; and as these sketches, though less per- exhibit the progress of his style, as well as the fect, are fairly to be considered as the offspring history of his mind. In the Fourth Edition, several new letters were introduced, and some of inferior importance were omitted.
Occupying from page xxvi to page xxxii of this
Dr Currie's edition of Burns' Works was origin. ally publi-hed in four volumes, of which the following Correspondence formed the second
In printing this volume, the Editor has found some corrections of grammar necessary; but these have been very few, and such as may be supposed to occur in the careless effusions, even of literary characters, who have not been in the habit of carrying their compositions to the press. These corrections have never been extended to any habitual modes of expression of the Poet, even where his phraseology may seem to violate the delicacies of taste; or the
Narrative of his infancy and youth, by himself--
18. To Dr Moore, 15th February 1787
19. From Dr Moore, 28th February 1787. Sends
ib. 26. To the same, 15th April 1787. On the same
his becoming a poet. Praise of Lord Glen-
60. To R. Graham, Esq. of Fintry. A petition in
61. To Mr P. Hill, 1st Oct. 1788. Criticism on a
67. From Mr G. Burns, 1st Jan. 1789. Reflections
21 69. To Dr Moore, 4th Jan. Account of his situa-
62. To Mrs Dunlop, at Moreham Maines, 13th No-
63. To ****, 8th Nov. Defence of the family of
ib. 71. From the Rev. P. Carfrae, 2d January 1789.
72. To Mrs Dunlop, 4th March. Reflections after a
25 78. From Dr Gregory. Criticism of the poem on a
ib. 79. To Mr M'Auley of Dumbarton.
Some account of Ferguson
Praise of Zeluco
A poetess in humble life,
ib. 90. To Sir John Sinclair. Account of a book society
28 91. To Mr Gilbert Burns. With a Prologue spoken
ib. 92. To Mrs Dunlop. Some account of Falconer,
An epistle in verse
34 102. Extract from Mr Cunningham, 14th October.
35 103. To Mr Dunlop, November 1790. Congratula-