« PreviousContinue »
a fairer character, or perhaps in more studied language. In the chaos of his manuscripts, some of the original sketches were found, and as these sketches, though less perfect, are fairly to be considered as the offspring of his mind, where they have seemed in themselves worthy of a place in this volume, we have not hesitated to insert them, though they may not always correspond exactly with the letters transmitted, which have been lost, or withheld.
Our author appears at one time to have formed an intention of making a collection of his letters, for the amusement of a friend. Accordingly, he copied an inconsiderable number of them into a book, which he presented to Robert Riddell, of Glenriddell, Esq. Among these was the account * of his life, addressed to Dr. Moore, and printed in the first volume. In copying from his imperfect sketches (it does not appear that he had the a 2
letters actually sent to his correspondents before him) he seems to have occasionally enlarged his observations, and altered his expressions. In such instances his emendations have been adopted ; but in truth there are but five of the letters thus selected by the poet, to be found in the present volume, the rest being thought of inferior merit, or otherwise unfit for the public eye.
In printing this volume, the editor has found some corrections of grammar necessary; but these have been very few, and such as may be supposed to occur in the careless effusions, even of literary characters, who have not been in the habit of carrying their compositions to the press. These corrections have never been extended to any habitual modes of expression of the poet, even where his phraseology may seem to violate the delicacies of taste, or the idiom of our language, which he wrote in general with great accuracy. Some difference will indeed be found in this respect in his earlier, and in his later compositions ; and this volume will exhibit the progress of his stile, as well as the history of his mind.
To diversify the volume, and to illustrate the character or the history of the poet, a few of the letters of his correspondents have been introduced. In general, this has been done with the permission of the writers ; in one or two instances, it has been done without leave, for which the editor begs pardon ; trusting that the liberal minds of the per
sons concerned will overlook an omission, arising
from the pressure of important engagements, which
prevented the error from being discovered until it was too late.
In the eleventh page of this volume, the reader will find an apology offered on this subject to Mr. Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, if still alive. Since that sheet was printed, the editor has heard from that respectable gentleman and elegant scholar, and has ob
tained his consent to the publication of his letters.
“ Fortunatus et ille, Deos qui novit agrestes,
“ Panaque, Sylvanumque senem, Nymphasque sorores !
“ Illum non populi fasces, non purpura regum
6 Aut conjurato descendens Dacus ab Istro.
Had the whole of the letters of Burns been
IN VOL. II.
1. TO A FEMALE FRIEND. 1780,
1783. Burns' former teacher; giving an
mind, . . . . . . . 12
various subjects, · · · · 16
. . . . 27
VIII. TO MRS. DUNLOP. Thanks for her no-
tice. Praise of her ancestor, Sir William
Wallace, · · · · · ·
closing a poem on Miss A - . .