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" he told me, when I was admiring a distant prospect in “one of our morning walks, that the sight of so many “ smoking cottages gave a pleasure to his mind, which “none could understand who had not witnessed, like “himself, the happiness and the worth which they “ contained.”
Burns went to Edinburgh not to compose poetry, but to publish what he had already written, and had much to occupy his time and attention besides. But there he wrote the
ADDRESS TO EDINBURGH.
“Edina! Scotia's darling seat !
All hail thy palaces and tow’rs,
Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs !
As on the banks of Ayr I stray’d,
I shelter in thy honour'd shade.
Here wealth still swells the golden tide,
As busy Trade his labour plies;
Bids elegance and splendour rise ;
High wields her balance and her rod;
Seeks Science in her coy abode.
Thy sons, Edina, social, kind,
With open arms the stranger hail ;
Or modest merit's silent claim :
And never envy blot their name!
Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn,
Gay as the gilded summer sky,
Dear as the raptur'd thrill of joy!
Heav'n's beauties on my fancy shine;
And own his work indeed divine!
There watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough rude fortress gleams afar:
And mark'd with many a seamy scar:
Grim-rising o'er the rugged rock,
And oft repelld th' invader's shock.
With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears,
I view that noble, stately dome,
Fam'd heroes, had their royal home :
Their royal name low in the dust!
Tho' rigid law cries out, 'twas just!
Wild beats my heart, to trace your steps,
Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
Old Scotia's bloody lion bore:
Haply my sires have left their shed,
Bold-following where your fathers led !
* Daughter of Lord Monboddo. Burns said there had not been anything like her, in beauty, grace, and goodness, since Eve on the first day of her existence. But, in 1791, he wrote her elegy, for she died early, of consumption, about six months before.
Edina! Scotia's darling seat !
All hail thy palaces and tow'rs,
Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs!
As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd,
I shelter in thy honour'd shade.”
The successful publication of the second edition of his poems by Creech, the bookseller, in April, 1787, enabled him to gratify his wish to visit places memorable in the history of Scotland, or celebrated in Scottish song, or remarkable for beauty and grandeur. With Mr. Robert Ainslie for a companion, he travelled for three weeks in the South of Scotland, visiting Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh, the rivers, hills, and dales between the metropolis and the border, and a part of Northumberland. He took an excursion with Mr. Adair, of Harrowgate, between the Forth and the Highlands, when he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Bruce at Dunfermline, to Bannockburn and Stirling; and in August of the same year, with his clever, but in several respects undesirable, companion, Mr. Nicol, he took his most extensive journey, which he thus describes in a letter from Edinburgh, 16th September, 1787, to his brother Gilbert :
“I arrived here safe yesterday evening, after a tour of “twenty-two days, and travelling near six hundred miles, “windings included. My farthest stretch was about “ten miles beyond Inverness. I went through the “heart of the Highlands, by Crieff, Taymouth, the “ famous seat of Lord Breadalbane, down the Tay, “among cascades and druidical circles of stones to “Dunkeld, a seat of the Duke of Athole; thence across “ Tay, and up one of his tributary streams to Blair of “Athole, another of the Duke's seats, where I had the “honour of spending nearly two days with his Grace “and family; thence many miles through a wild country. 38 TRAVELS IN THE HIGHLANDS AND LOWLANDS.
“ among cliffs grey with eternal snows, and gloomy “savage glens, till I crossed Spey and went down the “stream through Strathspey, so famous in Scottish “music, Badenoch, &c., till I reached Grant Castle, “where I spent half a day with Sir James Grant and “family ; and then crossed the country for Fort George, “but called by the way at Cawdor, the ancient seat of “Macbeth; there I saw the identical bed in which, “tradition says, King Duncan was murdered : lastly, “from Fort George to Inverness.
“I returned by the coast, through Nairn, Forres, and “so on, to Aberdeen; thence to Stonehive, where James “ Burns, from Montrose, met me by appointment. I “spent two days among our relations, and found our “aunts, Jean and Isabel, still alive, and hale old women. “ John Caird, though born the same year with our “father, walks as vigorously as I can; they have had • several letters from his son in New York. William “ Brand is likewise a stout old fellow: but further par“ticulars I delay till I see you, which will be in two or “three weeks. The rest of my stages are not worth re“hearsing: warm as I was from Ossian's country, where “I had seen his very grave, what cared I for fishing “ towns or fertile carses? I slept at the famous Brodie “ of Brodie's one night, and dined at Gordon Castle next • day with the Duke, Duchess, and family. I am think“ing to cause my old mare to meet me, by means of “ John Ronald, at Glasgow; but you shall hear farther “ from me before I leave Edinburgh. My duty, and “many compliments from the north, to my mother, and “my brotherly compliments to the rest. I have been “trying for a berth for William, but am not likely to be “successful.—Farewell.”
When Burns and his companion Nicol were at Banff, they visited the Master of the Grammar School there, Dr. Chapman. A boy of thirteen, his favourite pupil, many years afterwards related that when Nicol asked him which of the poems of Burns he preferred, he replied, “I like best by far the “Cotter's Saturday
“Night,' although it made me greet (cry) when my “ father had me to read it to my mother.” Burns suddenly started and said, “Weel, my callant, I don't “wonder at your greeting at reading the poem, for “it made me greet more than once when I was writing “it at my father's fireside." Such exquisite sensibility was one great source of his power.
During his second visit to Edinburgh, in 1788, he was confined to his room for six weeks, the drunken driver of a hackney coach having overturned him; and he lay “with a bruised limb, extended on a cushion, and “the tints of my mind vying with the livid horrors pre“ceding a midnight thunderstorm.”
“I have taken tooth and nail to the Bible, and have “ got through the five Books of Moses, and half way in “ Joshua. It is really a glorious Book. I sent for my "bookbinder to-day, and ordered him to get an 8vo, “ Bible in sheets, the best paper and print in town, “and bind it with all the elegance of his craft.” In another letter, which opens gaily enough, he reverts to the same prevailing darkness of mood. “I ca’nt say I “ am altogether at my ease when I see anywhere in “my path that meagre, squalid, famine-faced spectre, “ Poverty, attended, as he always is, by iron-fisted Op“pression, and leering Contempt. But I have sturdily “ withstood his buffetings many a hard-laboured day, “ and still my motto is, I dare. My worst enemy is “ moi meme. There are just two creatures that I would “ envy—a horse in his wild state traversing the forests “of Asia, or an oyster on some of the desert shores of “ Europe, The one has not a wish without enjoyment ; “the other has neither wish nor fear.”
“These have been six horrible weeks. Anguish and “ low spirits have made me very unfit to read, write, or “think. I have a hundred times wished that one could “resign life as an officer does a commission; for I “ would not take in any poor ignorant wretch by selling