« PreviousContinue »
To MR. CHALMERS.
Edinburgh, 27th December, 1786.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I CONFESS I have sinned the sin for which there is hardly any forgiveness, ingratitude to friendship, in not writing you sooner ; but of all men living I had intended to send you an entertaining letter, and by all the plodding, stupid, powers, that in nodding, conceited, majesty preside over the dull routine of business—A heavily-solemn oath this ! I am, and have been, ever since I came to Edinburgh, as unfit to write a letter of humour as to write a commentary on the Revelations. * * * * * * * * * *
To make you some amends for what, before you reach this paragraph, you will have suffered, I inclose you two poems I have carded and spun since I past Glenbuck. One blank in the address to Edinburgh, « Fair B- ” is the heavenly Miss Burnet, daughter to Lord Monboddo, at whose house I have had the honour to be more than once. There has not been any thing nearly like her, in all the combination of beauty, grace, and goodness, the great Creator has formed, since Milton's Eve on the first day of her existence.
I have sent you a parcel of subscription-bills, and have written to Mr. Ballentine and Mr. Aiken to call on you for some of them, if they want them. My direction is, care of Andrew Bruce, merchant, Bridge-street.
TO THE EARL OF EGLINTON.
Edinburgh, January 1787.
As I have but slender pretensions to philosophy, I cannot rise to the exalted ideas of a citizen of the world ; but have all those national prejudices, which I believe glow peculiarly strong in the breast of a Scotchman. There is scarcely any thing, to which I am so feelingly alive as the honor and welfare of my country; and, as a poet, I have no higher enjoyment than singing her sons and daughters. Fate had cast my station in the veriest shades of life; but never did a heart pant more ardently, than mine, to be distinguished :
though, till very lately, I looked in vain on every side for a ray of light. It is easy then to guess how much I was gratified with the countenance and approbation of one of my country's most illustrious sons, when Mr. Wauchope called on me yesterday on the part of your lordship. Your munificence, my lord, certainly deserves my very grateful acknowledgments; but your patronage is a bounty peculiarly suited to my feelings. I am not master enough of the etiquette of life to know, whether there be not some impropriety in troubling your lordship with my thanks, but my heart whispered me to do it. From the emotions of my inmost soul I do it. Selfish ingratitude I hope I am incapable of; and mercenary servility, I trust I shall ever have so much honest pride as to detest.
To Mrs. DUNLOP.
Edinburgh 15th January, 1787.
YOURS of the 9th current, which I am this moment honor'd with, is a deep reproach to me for ungrateful neglect. I will tell you the real truth, for I am miserably aukward at a fibI wished to have written to Dr. Moore before I wrote to you ; but, though every day since I received yours of Dec. 30th, the idea, the wish, to write to him has constantly pressed on my thoughts, yet I could not for my soul set about it. I know his fame and character, and I am one of “ the sons