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I have now given so many tales of perfect truth to the public, many of them with not one word of truth in them, that I know I shall not be believed in this, and that people will say, “Oho! this is a mere subterfuge of the Shepherd's to get off, in case of any unsound tenets or instances of bad taste.” It is, nevertheless, literally true; and I shall tell you how it came to my hand, which was not in a very fair way.
In 1801 I sent a MS. volume of songs, ballads, &c. to a bookseller in Edinburgh (many years since deceased) to publish for me, which he had promised to do. A long time after, he returned a parcel, with a letter, saying the work would not do, and for my own credit he had abstained from publishing it. It was this translation which he returned me, and being greatly chagrined I kept it. I cared not for the loss of my own, for I had it all either in scraps or by heart; so I retained the parcel sent me, which was never more inquired after.
It has now been in my possession for three and thirty years; but there were so many corrections on the margin, and French notes, that I never ventured to look into it till last winter, when I thought I perceived many observations far too valuable to be lost, and I have mixed a part of them up with my own.
ALTRIVE, March 31, 1834.