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pression on your imagination, that I am not without hopes it will beget something to delight the
TO improve both air and soil,
I love to wander,
Here, if it pleases Almighty God,
Near that transparent fountain,
Contented with a competency,
And happy with my lot.
Ye trees and friends,
public in due time. And no doubt the circumstances of this little tale, might be varied or extended, so as to make part of a pastoral comedy. Age or wounds might have kept Omeron at home, whilst his countrymen were in the field. His
Above the door of the bouse, written in 1775.
MIHI meisque utinam contingat,
Avito in agello,
On the banks of the Teith,
Of my fathers,
And die in joyful hope!
These inscriptions, and the translations are in the hand-writing of Mr. R*****.
This gentleman, if still alive, will it is hoped excuse the liberty taken by the unknown editor, in enriching the correspondence of Burns with his excellent letter, and with inscriptions so classical and so interesting.
station may be somewhat varied, without losing his simplicity and kindness * * * *. A group of characters male and female connected with the plot, might be formed from his family, or some neighbouring one of rank. It is not indispensable that the guest should be a man of high station; nor is the political quarrel in which he is engaged of much importance, unless to call forth the exercise of generosity and faithfulness, grafted on patriarchal hospitality. To introduce state affairs would raise the style above comedy, though a small spice of them would season the converse of swains. Upon this head I cannot say more than to recommend the study of the character of Eumæus in the Odyssey, which in Mr. Pope's translation is an exquisite and invaluable drawing from nature, that would suit some of our country Elders of the present day.
There must be love in the plot, and a happy discovery ; and peace and pardon may be the reward of hospitality, and honest attachment to misguided principles. When you have once thought of a plot, and brought the story into form, Dr. Blacklock, or Mr. H. M‘Kenzie may be useful in dividing it into acts and scenes; for in these matters one must pay some attention to certain rules of the drama. These you could afterwards fill up at your leisure ; but whilst I presume to give a few
well meant hints, let me advise you to study the spirit of my name-sake's dialogue, * which is natural without being low, and under the trammels of verse, is such as country people in these situations speak every day. You have only to bring down your own strain a very little. A great plan such as this would concenter all your ideas, which facilitates the execution and makes it a part of ones pleasure. I approve of your plan of retiring from din and dissipation to a farm of very moderate size, sufficient to find exercise for mind and body, but not so great as to absorb better things. And if some intellectual pursuit be well chosen and steadily pursued, it will be more lucrative than most farms in this age of rapid improvement. Upon this subject, as your well-wisher and admirer, permit me to go a step further. Let those bright talents, which the Almighty has bestowed on you, be henceforth employed to the noble purpose of supporting the cause of truth and virtue. An imagination so varied and forcible as yours, may do this in many different modes; nor is it necessary to be always serious, which you have been to good purpose ; good morals may be recommended in a comedy, or even in a song. Great
* Allan Ramsay in the gentle Shepherd.
allowances are due to the heat and inexperience of youth, and few poets can boast, like Thomson, of never having written a line which dying they would wish to blot. In particular I wish you to keep clear of the thorny walks of satire, which makes a man an hundred enemies for one friend, and is doubly dangerous when one is supposed to extend the slips and weaknesses of individuals to their sect or party. About modes of faith, serious and excellent men have always differed, and there are certain curious questions, which may afford scope to men of metaphysical heads, but seldom mend the heart or temper. Whilst these points are beyond human ken, it is sufficient that all our sects concur in their views of morals. You will forgive me for these hints.
Well! what think you of good lady C.? It is a pity she is so deaf and speaks so indistincly. Her house is a specimen of the mansions of our gentry of the last age, when hospitality and elevation of mind were conspicuous amidst plain fare and plain furniture. I shall be glad to hear from you at times, if it were no more than to shew that you take the effusions of an obscure man like me