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TO DR. BLACKLOCK.*

Ellisland, 21st Oct. 1789.
AZOW, but your letter made me vauntie !
AV And are ye hale, and weel, and cantie?
VAN I kenn'd it still your wee bit jauntie

Wad bring ye to:
Lord send you aye as weel's I want ye,

And then ye'll do.

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* In answer to the following Poetical Epistle from Dr. Blacklock.

Edinburgh, 24th August, 1789.
“Dear Burns, thou brother of my heart,
Both for thy virtues and thy art:
If art it may be call'd in thee,
Which Nature's bounty, large and free,
With pleasure on thy breast diffuses,
And warms thy soul with all the Muses;
Whether to laugh with easy grace,
Thy numbers move the sage's face,
Or bid the softer passions rise,
And ruthless souls with grief surprise,
'Tis Nature's voice distinctly felt,
Thro' thee, her organ, thus to melt.

Most anxiously I wish to know
With thee of late how matters go;
How keeps thy much-lov'd Jean her health?
What promises thy farm of wealth?
Whether the Muse persists to smile,
And all thy anxious cares beguile?
Whether bright fancy keeps alive?
And how thy darling infants thrive ?

For me, with grief and sickness spent,
Since I my journey homeward bent,
Spirits depress'd no more I mourn,
But vigour, life, and health return.

The ill-thief blaw the Heron* south !
And never drink be near his drouth!
He tald mysel by word o' mouth,

He'd tak my letter;
I lippen'd to the chiel in trouth,

And bade nae better.

10

But aiblins honest Master Heron,
Had at the time some dainty fair one,
To ware his theologic care on,

And holy study;
And tir'd o'sauls to waste his lear on,

E'en tried the body.

20

But what d’ye think, my trusty fier,
I'm turn'd a gauger—Peace be here !
Parnassian queens, I fear, I fear

Ye'll now disdain me!
And then my fifty pounds a year

Will little gain me.

No more to gloomy thoughts a prey,
I sleep all night, and live all day;
By turns my book and friend enjoy,
And thus my circling hours employ;
Happy while yet these hours remain,
If Burns could join the cheerful train,
With wonted zeal, sincere and fervent,
Salute once more his humble servant,

“ Tho. BLACKLOCK."

It was through Dr. Blacklock's exertions that the Poet was induced to abandon his intention of going to Jamaica, in 1786.

* Robert Heron, author of a History of Scotland, and of a Life of Burns.

Ye glaiket, gleesome, dainty damies,
Wha by Castalia's wimplin' streamies,
Lowp, sing, and lave your pretty limbies,

Ye ken, ye ken,
That strang necessity supreme is

'Mang sons o' men.

I hae a wife and twa wee laddies,
They maun hae brose and brats o'duddies ;
Ye ken yoursels my heart right proud is-

I need na vaunt,
But I'll sned besoms—thraw saugh woodies,

Before they want.

Lord help me thro’ this warld o' care !
I'm weary sick o't late and air !
Not but I hae a richer share

Than monie ithers;
But why should ae man better fare,

And a' men brithers ?

40

Come, Firm Resolve, take thou the van,
Thou stalk o'carl-hemp in man!
And let us mind, faint heart ne'er wan

A lady fair ;
Wha does the utmost that he can,

Will whyles do mair.

But to conclude my silly rhyme,
(I'm scant o’verse, and scant o'time),
To make a happy fire-side clime

To weans and wife,
That's the true pathos and sublime

Of human life.

My compliments to sister Beckie ;
And eke the same to honest Lucky,
I wat she is a daintie chuckie,

. As e'er tread clay!
And gratefully, my guid auld cockie,

I'm yours for ay.

ROBERT BURNS.

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PROLOGUE, SPOKEN AT THE THEATRE,

ELLISLAND.*

po yo song nor dance I bring from yon

great city SRPNS That queens it o’er our taste—the

as more's the pity; Tho', by-the-by, abroad why will you roam ? Good sense and taste are natives here at home: But not for panegyric I appear, I come to wish you all a good new-year ! Old Father Time deputes me here before ye, Not for to preach, but tell his simple story:

* In a letter from Ellisland, 11th January, 1790, Burns says, “We have gotten a set of very decent players here just now. I have seen them an evening or two. David Campbell, in Ayr, wrote to me by the manager of the company, a Mr. Sutherland, who is a man of apparent worth. On Newyear's-day evening I gave him the following Prologue, which he spouted to his audience with applause;" and on the 9th of the next month he said, “I have given Mr. Sutherland two Prologues, one of which was delivered last week."

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The sage grave ancient cough’d, and bade me say,
You're one year older this important day.” 10
If wiser too--he hinted some suggestion,
But 'twould be rude, you know, to ask the question;
And with a would-be roguish leer and wink,
He bade me on you press this one word—“think !”
Ye sprightly youths, quite flushed with hope

and spirit,
Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
To you the dotard has a deal to say,
In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way;
He bids you mind, amid your thoughtless rattle,
That the first blow is ever half the battle; 20
That tho’some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
Yet by the forelock is the hold to catch him ;
That whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
You may do miracles by persevering

Last, tho' not least in love, ye youthful fair, Angelic forms, high Heaven's peculiar care ! To you old Bald-pate smooths his wrinkled brow, And humbly begs you'll mind the important now! To crown your happiness he asks your leave, And offers bliss to give and to receive.

30 For our sincere, tho' haply weak endeavours, With grateful pride we own your many favours ; And howsoe'er our tongues may ill reveal it, Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.

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