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JOCKEY'S TAEN THE PARTING KISS.
TUNE-Jockey's taen the parting Kiss. Jockey's taen the parting kiss,
O’er the mountains he is gane; And with him is a' my bliss,
Nought but griefs with me remain. Spare my luve, ye winds that blaw,
Plashy sleets and beating rain! Spare my luve, thou feathery snaw,
Drifting o'er the frozen plain. When the shades of evening creep
O’er the day's fair, gladsome ee, Sound and safely may he sleep,
Sweetly bļithe his waukening be! He will think on her he loves,
Fondly, he'll repeat her name; For where'er he distant roves,
Jockey's heart is still at hamo.
It were mair meet that those fine feet
Were weel laced up in silken shoon;
Within yon chariot gilt aboon.
Comes trinkling down her swan-like neck;
Would keep a sinking ship frae wreck.
It is not of course to be supposed that Burns was to mend his breach with the family at Woodley Park by lampooning the lady.
DEATH OF GLENRIDDEL.
Nor could the scandal of this quarrel, and of its sequel of coarse invectives, be expected to extenuate the more general odium in which politics had involved him. Nor did the evil stop here. Very naturally, the good couple at Carse, by whose fireside he had spent so many happy evenings, took part with their friends at Woodley; and most sad it is to relate, that 'the worthy Glenriddel, deep read in old coins,' adopted sentiments of reprobation and aversion towards the Bard of the Whistle. It cannot be doubted that this was a feeling which would pervade all within the Riddel influence, as well as many unconcerned persons who, having to judge between a pretty woman of fashion, and clever Mr Burns-once a ploughman, and now an exciseman-would not perhaps take much trouble to ascertain the extent to which the lady had given provocation to so ungallant a muse.
In April, the Laird of Carse died, unreconciled to our poet, who, remembering only his worth and former kindness, immediately penned an elegiac sonnet on the sad event. This must be admitted as a magnanimous act on Burns's part, under the circumstances ; and its merit is the greater, that it was done on the spur of a first impulse-the sonnet being completed so early as to appear in the local newspaper, beneath the announcement of Glenriddel's death.
[SONNET ON THE DEATH OP GLENRIDDEL.] No more, ye warblers of the wood, no more;
Nor pour your descant grating on my soul:
Thou young-eyed Spring, gay in thy verdant stole
Ye blow upon the sod that wraps my friend!
How can I to the tuneful strain attend?
And soothe the Virtues weeping o'er his bier:
The Man of Worth, and hath not left his peer,
Thee, Spring, again with joy shall others greet;
Burns, besides giving Glenriddel an interleaved copy of the Musical Museum, enriched with many manuscript notes, had lent him a private manuscript volume, in which he kept such of his minor occasional compositions as he deemed unworthy of being printed. This volume not being returned before Glenriddel's death, Burns, after a decent interval, bethought him of reclaiming it-a task rendered difficult by the relation in which he now stood regarding the family. He adopted the resolution of seeking the good offices of a sister of Mrs Riddel; and the letter which he wrote to that lady fortunately survives, to reveal to us his sentiments respecting the odium which had been cast upon him. It fully appears that he was at this time suffering reproach for 'imputed improprieties,' but considered himself as a victim of prejudice and caprice.
[DUMFRIES, May or June 1794 ?] Madam-Nothing short of a kind of absolute necessity could have made me trouble you with this letter. Except my ardent and just esteem for your sense, taste, and worth, every sentiment arising in my breast, as I put pen to paper to you, is painful. The scenes I have passed with the friend of my soul, and his amiable connections ! the wrench at my heart to think that he is gone, for ever gone from me, never more to meet in the wanderings of a weary world! and the cutting reflection of all, that I had most unfortunately, though most undeservedly, lost the confidence of that soul of worth, ere it took its flight!- these, madam, are sensations of no ordinary anguish. However you also may be offended with some imputed improprieties of mine, sensibility you know I possess, and sincerity none will deny me.
To oppose those prejudices which have been raised against me, is not the business of this letter. Indeed, it is a warfare I know not how to wage. The powers of positive vice I can in some degree calculate, and against direct malevolence I can be on my guard; but who can estimate the fatuity of giddy caprice, or ward off the unthinking mischief of precipitate folly?
I have a favour to request of you, madam; and of your sister, Mrs [Riddel), through your means. You know that, at the wish of my late friend, I made a collection of all my trifles in verse which I had ever written. They are many of them local, some of them puerile and silly, and all of them unfit for the public eye. As I have some little fame at stake-a fame that I trust may live when the hate of those who watch for my halting,' and the contumelious sneer of those whom accident has made my superiors, will, with themselves, be gone to the regions of oblivion--I am uneasy now for the fate of those manuscripts. Will Mrs (Riddel] have the goodness to destroy them, or return them to me? As a pledge of friendship they were bestowed; and that circumstance, indeed, was all their merit. Most unhappily for me, that merit they no longer possess; and I hope that Mrs (Riddel]'s goodness, which I well know, and ever will revere, GLOOMY SPRING OF 1794.
will not refuse this favour to a man whom she once held in some degree of estimation. With the sincerest esteem, I have the honour to be, madam, &c.
The fact that the sonnet on Glenriddel stands almost alone as a composition of Burns during the first half of 1794,' is tolerably expressive evidence of the wretchedness which he then endured. During this dismal period, even the favourite pursuit into which he had been drawn by Mr Thomson was nearly at a stand — the following being the only portions of the corresponderice which belong to it :
MR THOMSON TO BURNS.
EDINBURGH, 17th April 1794. MY DEAR SIR-Owing to the distress of our friend for the loss, of his child, at the time of his receiving your admirable but melancholy letter, I had not an opportunity, till lately, of perusing it.? How sorry I am to find Burns saying: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased ?' while he is delighting others from one end of the island to the other. Like the hypochondriac who went to consult a physician upon his case-—-Go,' says the doctor, and see the famous Carlini, who keeps all Paris in good-humour.' 'Alas! sir,' replied the patient, 'I am that unhappy Carlini !'
Your plan for our meeting together pleases me greatly, and I trust that by some means or other it will soon take place; but your bacchanalian challenge almost frightens me, for I am a miserably weak drinker !
Allan is much gratified by your good opinion of his talents. He has just begun a sketch from your Cotter's Saturday Night, and, if it pleaseth himself in the design, he will probably etch or engrave it. În subjects of the pastoral and humorous kind he is, perhaps, unrivalled by any artist living. He fails a little in giving beauty and grace to his females, and his colouring is sombre, otherwise his paintings and drawings would be in greater request.
I like the music of the Sutor's Dochter, and will consider whether it shall be added to the last volume: your verses to it are pretty; but your humorous English song, to suit Jo Janet, is inimitable. What think you of the air, Within a Mile of Edinburgh ? It has always struck me as a modern English imitation ; but it is said to be Oswald's, and is so much liked, that I believe I must include it. The verses are little better than namby-pamby. Do you consider it worth a stanza or two?
Mr Walter Riddel soon after inherited Friars Carse from his brother, and that estate was in like manner advertised in June.
I On the 1st April 1794, Woodley Park was advertised for sale.
9 The letter to Mr Cunningham, dated 25th February.