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up starts conscience and harrows us with the feelings of the d*****.
I have inclosed you, by way of expiation, some verse and prose, that if they merit a place in your truly entertaining miscellany, you are welcome to. The prose extract is literally as Mr. Sprott sent
The Inscription on the stone is as follows:
HERE LIES ROBERT FERGUSSON, POET, Born, September 5th, 1751-Died, 16th October, 1774.
No sculptur'd marble here, nor pompous lay,
“ No storied urn nor animated bust, This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way
pour her sorrows o'er her poet's dust.
On the otber side of the stone is as follows:
“ By special grant of the managers to Robert “Burns, who erected this stone, this burial-place “ is to remain for ever sacred to the memory of “ Robert Fergusson.
Extract of a Letter from
8th March, 1787.
I AM truly happy to know you have found a friend in ********* ; his patronage of you does him great honor. He is truly a good man. By far the best I ever knew, or perhaps ever shall know in this world. But I must not speak all I think of him lest I should be thought partial.
So you have obtained liberty from the magistrates to erect a stone over Fergusson's grave ? I do not doubt it ; such things have been as Shakespeare says “ in the olden-time.”
“ The poet's fate is here in emblem shewn,
It is I believe upon poor Butler's tomb that this is written. But how many brothers of Parnassus, as well as poor Butler and poor Fergusson, have asked for bread, and been served with the
* * *
The magistrates gave you liberty, did they? Oh generous magistrates !
* * celebrated over the three kingdoms for his public spirit, gives a poor poet liberty to raise a tomb to a poor poet's memory! most generous! ******* once upon a time gave that same poet the mighty sum of eighteen pence for a copy of his works. But then it must be considered that the poet was at this time absolutely starving, and besought his aid with all the earnestness of hunger. And over and above he received a
* worth at least one third of the value, in exchange, but which I believe the poet afterwards very ungratefully expunged.
Next week I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you in Edinburgh, and, as my stay will be for eight or ten days, I wish you or ***** would take a snug well aired bed-room for me, where I may have the pleasure of seeing you over a morning cup of tea.
of tea. But by all accounts it will be a matter of some difficulty to see you at all, unless your company is bespoke a week before hand.
There is a great rumour here concerning your great intimacy with the Dutchess of
and other ladies of distinction. I am really told that “ cards to invite fly by thousands each night ;" and if you had one, I suppose there would also be “ bribes to your old secretary.” It seems you are resolved to make hay while the sun shines, and avoid if possible the fate of poor Fergusson, * * *
** Quærenda pecunia primum est, virtus post nummos, is a good maxim to thrive by: you seemed to despise it while in this country, but probably some philosopher in Edinburgh has taught you better sense.
Pray are you yet engraving as well as printing--are you yet seized
“ With itch of picture in the front,
But I must give up this trifling and attend to matters that more concern myself ; so as the Aberdeen wit says, adieu dryly, we sal drink phar we meet.*
* The above extract is from a letter of one of the ablest ofour poet's correspondents, which contains some interesting anecdotes of Fergusson, that we should have been happy to have inserted, if they could have been
authenticated. The writer is mistaken in supposing the magistrates of Edinburgh had any share in the transaction respecting the monument erected for Fergusson by our bard; this, it is evident, passed between Burns and the Kirk Session of the Canongate. Neither at Edinburgh, nor anywhere else, do magistrates usually trouble themselves to inquire how the house of a poor poet is furnished, or how his grave is adorned.