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edition are very beautiful, particularly the Winter Night, the Address to Edinburgh, Green grow
tbe Rasbes, and the two songs immediately following; the latter of which is exquisite. By the way, I imagine, you have a peculiar talent for such compositions, which you ought to indulge.* No kind of poetry demands more delicacy or higher polishing. Horace is more admired on account of his Odes than all his other writings. But nothing now added is equal to your Vision, and Cotler's Saturday Night. In these are united fine imagery, natural and pathetic description, with sublimity of language and thought. It is evident that you already possess a great variety of expression and command of the English language, you ought therefore to deal more sparingly, for the future in the provincial dialect--why should you, by using that, limit the number of
admirers to those who understand the Scottish, when you can extend it to all persons of taste who understand the English language. In my opinion you should plan some larger work than any you have as yet attempted. I mean reflect upon some proper subject, and arrange the
* The fourth volume will bear testimony to the accuracy of Dr. Moore's judgment.
plan in your mind, without beginning to execute any part of it till you have studied most of the best English poets, and read a little more of history:--The Greek and Roman stories you can read in some abridgment, and soon become master of the most brilliant facts, which must highly delight a poetical mind. You should also, and very soon may become master of the heathen mythology, to which there are everlasting allusions in all the poets, and which in itself is charmingly fanciful. What will require to be studied with more attention, is modern history ; that is the history of France and Great Britain, from the beginning of Henry the seventh's reign. I know very well you have a mind capable of attaining knowledge by a shorter process than is commonly used, and I am certain you are capable of making a better use of it, when attained, than is generally done.
I beg you will not give yourself the trouble of writing to me when it is inconvenient, and make no apology when you do write for having postponed it-be assured of this however, that I shall always be happy to hear from you. I think my friend Mr. told me that you had some poems in manuscript by you, of a satirical and humorous nature, (in which by the way I think you very strong) which your prudent friends prevailed on you to omit; particularly one called Somebody's
Confession ; if
you will entrust me with a sight of any of these, I will pawn my word to give no copies, and will be obliged to you for a perusal of them.
I understand you intend to take a farm, and make the useful and respectable business of husbandry your chief occupation : this I hope will not prevent your making occasional addresses to the nine ladies who have shewn you such favour, one of whom visited you in the auld clay biggin. Virgil, before you, proved to the world that there is nothing in the business of husbandry inimical to poetry; and I sincerely hope that you may afford an example of a good poet being a success ful farmer. I fear it will not be in my power to visit Scotland this season ; when I do, I'll endeavour to find you out, for I heartily wish to see and converse with you. If ever your occasions call you to this place, I make no doubt of your paying me a visit, and you may depend on a very cordial welcome from this family.
Your friend and obedient servant,
Jamaica, St. Anns, 14th June, 1787.
I RECEIVED yours dated Edinburgh, 2d January, 1787, wherein you acquaint me you were engaged with Mr. Douglas of Port Antonio, for three years, at thirty pounds sterling a year ; and I am happy some unexpected accidents intervened that prevented your sailing with the vessel, as I have great reason to think Mr. Douglas's employ would by no means have answered your expectations. I received a copy of your publications, for which I return you my thanks, and it is my own opinion, as well as that of such of
my friends as have seen them, they are most excellent in their kind; although some could have wished they had been in the English style, as they alledge the Scottish dialect is now becoming obsolete, and
thereby thereby the elegance and beauties of your poems are in a great measure lost to far the greater part of the community. Nevertheless there is no doubt you had sufficient reasons for your conduct, perhaps the wishes of some of the Scottish nobility and gentry, your patrons, who will always relish their own old country style ; and your own inclinations for the same. It is evident from several passages in your works, you are as capable of writing in the English as in the Scottish dialect, and I am in great hopes your genius for poetry, from the specimen you have already given, will turn out both for profit and honour to yourself and country. I can by no means advise you now to think of coming to the West Indies, as, I assure you, there is no encouragement for a man of learning and genius here; and am very confident you can do far better in Great Britain, than in Jamaica. I am glad to hear my friends are well, and shall always be happy to hear from you at all convenient opportunities, wishing you success in all your undertakings. I will esteem it a particular favor if you will send me a copy of the other edition you are now printing.